Crit’Air: Drivers face €750 fines in France’s new low-emission zones

France's environment minister has announced a major extension of the city low-emission zones controlled by Crit'Air stickers, plus an increase in fines up to a maximum of €750.

Crit'Air: Drivers face €750 fines in France's new low-emission zones
French Gendarmes check the Crit'Air sticker in a car in Lille. Photo by JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT / AFP

Eleven French cities already have low-emission zones where older, more polluting cars are either banned altogether or limited to certain hours, controlled through vehicle stickers known as Crit’Air.

But on Tuesday Environment minister Christophe Béchu announced two big expansions to the scheme;

  • By the end of 2025 it will be extended to 43 urban areas – in all big cities and larger towns.
  • Enforcement will be stepped up through the use of automated cameras, while fines will be increased from the current level of €68 up to a maximum of €750.

The Crit’Air system requires all drivers – including the drivers of foreign-registered vehicles – going to any of the low-emission zones to get a sticker for their vehicle. The sticker assigns the vehicle a number from 0 (all electric vehicles) to 5 (the most polluting).

Local authorities then set their own rules, with some banning vehicles with a 4 or 5 sticker altogether, while others only allow them during evenings or weekends. In some places bans are extended on days when pollution levels rise.

You can find how to get the sticker HERE

After a meeting of the first inter-ministerial committee to monitor the low-emission zones (zones à faible émission or ZFE in French) on Tuesday, the minister announced a nationwide project to standardise regulations and ban certain vehicles from the zones, which generally encompass city and town centres.

From January 1st, 2023, Crit’Air 5 vehicles (diesel vehicles produced before 2001) will be affected by the ban. This will be followed on January 1st, 2024 by Crit’Air 4 (diesel before 2006) and on January 1st 2025 by Crit’Air 3 (diesel before 2011 and petrol/gasoline before 2006).

At present enforcement of the scheme is patchy and depends on local police making traffic stops to pull over drivers who either don’t have the sticker, or who are driving in areas where they are not permitted. However Béchu said that this will move to an automated control system involving cameras, although he did not reveal the exact detail of how this will work.

Transport minister Clément Beaune added: “The ZFEs are a necessity for ecological and public health reasons. It is necessary to do the maximum so that the automated control sanction is developed as soon as possible.”

Crit’Air violations will become a class 4 traffic offence – which attracts a maximum penalty of €750. 

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France extends Covid tests for travellers from China

France on Saturday said it had extended until February 15th Covid tests for travellers arriving from China due to the "evolving situation".

France extends Covid tests for travellers from China

The tests had initially been decreed until January 31.

Since the start of this year, travellers aged over 11 and coming from China to France have had to present a negative test taken 48 hours before the flight to board the plane.

Random testing will be carried out and anyone testing positive will have to self-isolate, the French authorities said, adding that everyone above six years old would have to wear face masks on the plane.

Several countries had slapped fresh travel regulations on travellers from China after Beijing decided to relax strict virus restrictions.

China has said that the number of daily Covid-19 deaths has fallen by nearly 80 percent since the start of the month.

A wave of virus cases has washed over the world’s most populous nation since Beijing abruptly ended its zero-Covid policy last month.

Beijing’s figures are believed to only represent a fraction of the true toll, given China’s narrow definition of a Covid death and official estimates that swathes of the population have been infected.