Ecological zones in France

Although the ecological zones in France were introduced as recently as 2016, France has still begun this environmental protection policy earlier than most European countries. French ecological zones also have several peculiarities that we do not know from e.g. Germany or Austria.


Please read the following text carefully about the French "Crit'Air":

Indicating the ecological zones in France

Ecological zones in France are called "Zones à Circulation Restreinte" or abbreviated ZCR. The environmental badge is called "Crit'Air" – you can find this inscription at the top of each environmental badge.

Ecological zones could begin to operate thanks to a Decree valid since June 2016. France’s ecological zones are, as are those in other countries, completely under the jurisdiction of the city which is considering their introduction. Each city determines whether drivers must or need not possess the appropriate environmental badge in order to enter the city and its surroundings, and what the minimum type of badge is deemed necessary. It is expected that after Paris, which introduced the ecological zones in July 2016, the number of other cities that you won´t be able to visit without an environmental sticker on the windscreen of your car, will increase.

The ecological zones in France are indicated by road signs. Driving accidentally into a zone and getting a heavy fine shouldn't happen to you, unlike in Austria where the beginning of the ecological zones is not marked.

Road signs indicating the beginning and end of the ecological zones in France:

The ecological zones in France apply to

Ecological Zones in France have several peculiarities that you might not know from, for example, the neighbouring countries of Germany and Austria, even if you visit them frequently. The first one is the validity of the French ecological zones. Right after the zones were introduced, the validity only concerned French drivers (i.e. all cars with French license plates). The ecological zones for foreign vehicles are valid from 1. 2. 2017. This means that from this date you will need an environmental sticker when visiting Paris and other French cities.

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The environmental sticker is required only in specific time

Another peculiarity of the ecological zones in France is their time limit. The traffic sign may, in addition to indicating the beginning of the ecological zone, provide information on its period of validity, e.g. „from 8 am to 8 pm." That means that at such indicated specific times, a car must be marked with the environmental sticker before entering the zone. Outside this period, however, you may drive through this area without the environmental badge!

Time slots are very typical for France. A similar situation has existed in Paris since 2015: buses and trucks over 3.5 tonnes and with a date of manufacture older than 1st October, 2001, are banned from entering the city, from 8 am to 8 pm. The environmental sticker is thus another means for reducing traffic congestion in cities.

Just as the introduction of ecological zones is fully under the jurisdiction of each city, it is the French town itself that decides the zone’s time limit.

Heavy fines

You may face a heavy fine if you enter the ecological zone without the environmental sticker. No matter whether it is your first time in France or you visit regularly, we recommend that you buy the appropriate environmental badge. Thanks to the badge’s unlimited validity, it will serve you forever.

After the introduction of the ecological zones in Paris, a transitional period was established. At first, the police only reminded drivers of the obligation to have the environmental sticker. Now, however, entry of an ecological zone without the environmental badge may turn out to be pretty costly. From October 2016, a fine of 35 Euros was imposed, but from January 2017 it has increased to 68 Euros. Penalties for drivers who ignore these laws will be gradually tightening.

You can find out more information about Crit Air environmental badges in the section French Environmental Badge.


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