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French air quality certificate

Do you need a French air quality certificate to drive in France? Read this FAQ to make sure you comply with the anti-pollution law when driving in France.

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What is Crit’Air?

Crit’Air is the commercial name for the Air Quality Certificate to reduce pollution in france.

How does Crit’Air work?

A Crit’Air score reflects a vehicle’s emission level, based on the engine energy system along with the year the vehicle was registered. You put a Crit’Air sticker on display in your vehicle.

What are the Crit’Air scores?

Crit’Air classifies vehicles according to the fine particles and levels of nitrogen oxide they emit. Scores go from 0 for electric and hydrogen vehicles, to 5 for highest emitters.

Crit’Air scores go from 0 to 5

How much does it cost to get a French air quality certificate?

Crit’Air only costs €3.11 per vehicle, plus additional shipping fees.

What documents do you need to order a Crit’Air certificate?

You only need your car registration and credit card to order your Crit’Air sticker. Before buying an air quality certificate, make sure your address is correct on your car registration because your Crit’Air sticker will be sent to this address.

Where can you buy a Crit’Air sticker?

Order your certificate online from the French official website. Click on EN at the top of the page to access the English version.

If you don’t have internet access, you can order your air quality certificate by regular mail instead. Fill out a Crit’Air application form and send it to the following address.

Service de délivrance des certificats qualité de l’air
BP 50637
59506 Douai Cedex

How long does it take to receive a Crit’Air sticker?

Once you ordered your Crit’Air sticker, you should receive it within ten days. If you need your certificate right away, you can use the validation email you receive less than 24 hours after you apply as a temporary certificate.

Where to put a Crit’Air sticker?

You should place your Crit’Air sticker in the lower right-hand corner of your car’s windshield. The Crit’Air score must be visible from the outside of the car.

The Crit'Air sticker should be put in the lower right corner of your car's windshield
Crit’Air stickers must be displayed in the lower right-hand corner of your windshield

Do you need a French air quality certificate?

Air Quality Certificates are mandatory to drive in low-emission zones in France. They are also mandatory when the French government sets temporary traffic restrictions during periods of high level pollution. On peak pollution days, only some categories of cars are allowed on the roads.

Do you need an air quality certificate if your vehicle is not registered in France?

You have to show a Crit’Air sticker to drive in low-emission zones in France, even with a foreign license plate. On the French official website, make sure you select the Vehicle Registered Abroad tab.

What is a low-emission zone?

A low-emission zone is a restricted traffic zone, exclusively accessible to low-emission vehicles. Low-emission zones in France are called ZFE-m for Zones à faibles émissions mobilité. The purpose of low-emission zones is to restrict access to big city centers to less polluting vehicles.

How do you know you’re entering a restricted zone?

A red circle traffic sign indicates that you’re entering a low-emission zone. Days and times when the restriction applies are specified on a separate sign below the main red circle sign.

An air quality certificate is mandatory to enter low-emission zones in France
A Crit’Air certificate is mandatory to drive in low-emission zones in France.

Read French road signs If you’re interested in learning more traffic signs.

Which traffic sign signals the end of a low-emission zone?

You know you’re exiting a low-emission zone when you see the following sign.End of low-emission zone French road sign
End of low-emission zone

Where are low-emission zones Located in France?

Most low-emission zones are located near big cities such as Paris, greater Paris and Ile de France, Lille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Toulouse, Chambéry, Annecy, Rouen, Reims, Saint-Etienne, Nice, Marseille and Rennes. 

A list of the low-emission zones in France is available on the Bison Futé website.

Where can you check the temporary traffic restrictions?

During pollution peaks, your local préfecture can set up temporary traffic restrictions. These temporary restrictions can either reduce the speed limit or limit the number of vehicles on the road, or both.

Traffic restrictions are in the news the day before they take effect.

You can check out the current temporary traffic restrictions on the Laboratoire Central de Surveillance de la Qualité de l’Air website. On the map, click on your department to see which traffic restrictions apply.

Do electric car owners need to buy a Crit’Air sticker?

Electric car owners need to display an air quality sticker like everyone else.

How long does a Crit’Air sticker last?

French air quality certificates don’t expire. They’re valid as long as the Crit’Air sticker is readable.

Are people with disabilities exempted?

People with disabilities or reduced mobility can access low-emission zones at any time with a reduced mobility parking card (Carte mobilité inclusion mention stationnement or CMI-S).

people with disabilities can be exempted from traffic restrictions due to pollution
People with a carte mobilité stationnement are exempted from traffic restrictions in low-emission zones

What if you need to change your windshield?

When you change your car windshield, you have to order a new air quality certificate.

Is Crit’Air exclusively for cars?

Air quality certificates apply to all motor vehicles in France, for individuals as well as public transportation vehicles.

What are the penalties for not having an air quality certificate?

You are subject to a €68 fine for driving or parking in a low-emission zone without a Crit’Air sticker. Driving without a Crit’Air sticker during temporary traffic restrictions can get you a €450 fine.

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Nathalie Nahmani

About Nathalie Nahmani

Nathalie is the creator of ma French Life. She moved back to France after living in Los Angeles for 20 years. She writes practical articles to help expats in France. Nathalie lives with her family in the French Alps near Grenoble.

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