Environmental stickers: new rules per country (2022)
March, 1 2022
For some years now, environmental zones have been introduced on European roads and in (inner) cities. You can only drive there if you have a sticker or vignette. Many rules have recently changed to varying degrees. In which German cities do you need an environmental sticker in 2022? And which environmental vignette do you need for Paris? We have gone through the latest regulations for you and have made a handy list. One tip, buy your environmental sticker in time. Especially now that the holiday season is almost upon us, the delivery times can be longer than expected.
[The information in this article has been checked and updated in January 2022.]
Fortunately, most cities with environmental zones are easily accessible by public transport. In some cases, the campsites themselves even have shuttle buses to transport their guests to and from certain cities. But should you need your car or motorhome, here you can find the most important information for the following countries.
- Great Britain and Northern Ireland
France has very extensive legislation regarding environmental zones. There are a few cities where an environmental sticker is already required: Paris, Lille, Lyon and Strasbourg. The French sticker is called Crit’Air Ecovignet and is available here. It costs under five euros (including shipping costs within Europe) and the average delivery time is four to six weeks. The stickers can also be ordered from other websites, but please note, they often charge a higher price. Since the price of the environmental sticker is relatively low, it would be a shame to go to France without one. If you do, you risk a fine of at least €68. There are six different stickers: 0 (green), 1 (purple), 2 (yellow), 3 (orange), 4 (red) and 5 (grey).
- France has two types of environmental zones. You can only enter a low-emission zone (ZFE) with a valid sticker. This zone applies throughout the year. Additionally, temporary environmental zones are activated when there is extreme (lengthy) air pollution. In that case, you may also need a valid sticker outside a ZFE. These temporary rules are often stricter and can, for example, affect the maximum speed permitted.
- When temporary rules apply in a ZFE, they replace the standard rules that apply in that zone. Temporary environmental zones can come into effect at any time, even for entire departments, so keep an eye on the regional news.
- In low-emission zones, signs indicate the times when exceptions apply. For example, on workdays between 8am to 8pm, you can only enter Paris city centre with an environmental sticker. As it currently stands, only cars in the Crit’Air categories 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 are allowed. As of 1 July 2022, category 3 cars will no longer be allowed either.
- People with a European disabled badge can enter an environmental zone. Please note, the vehicle must have an environmental sticker.
- It is good to know that the most polluting vehicles are never allowed in an environmental zone in France. Consider cars registered before 1 January 1997. For motorbikes, the limit is 1 June 2000. These vehicles cannot get a sticker.
- Please note that most low-emission zones (ZFEs) in France currently only apply for large goods vehicles (poids lourds, PL) and commercial vehicles (véhicule utilitaire léger, VUL), and not for passenger cars (véhicule particulier, VP or véhicule léger, VL). For a motorhome, it depends on the category on the vehicle registration certificate. If the motorhome falls under category N, Pay extra attention (especially with older cars) because the strictest rules will apply to you!
- See the table below for the most important rules that apply in French cities in 2022.
|Environmental zones in France||No access for Crit’Air categories||For which vehicle?||Particulars|
|Paris||4, 5 and without a Crit’Air vignette||All vehicles||Category 3 will also be banned as of July 2022.|
|Reims||5 and without a Crit’Air vignette||All vehicles||New as of 1-1-22|
|Lille||4, 5 and without a Crit’Air vignette||All vehicles||New as of 1-1-22|
|Strasbourg||5 and without a Crit’Air vignette||All vehicles||2022 ‘test year’, fines from 2023|
|Rouen||4, 5 and without a Crit’Air vignette||Category N||From July 2022, the restrictions apply to all vehicles (so also passenger cars).|
|Lyon||5 and without a Crit’Air vignette||Category N||From July 2022, the restrictions apply to all vehicles (so also passenger cars).|
|Grenoble||4, 5 and without a Crit’Air vignette||Category N||From 1 July 2022, the Crit’Air 3 will also be banned for all category N vehicles.|
In some other cities, mainly in Southern France, they are currently considering introducing ZFEs. For example in Montpellier, Aix/Marseille, Toulon, Toulouse and Nice. It is highly probable that in most cases these zones will (initially) only apply to transport vehicles (category N).
Before departure, check this site for a current and handy overview per city.
On route to the south or on your way back home? Check out these French stopover campsites:
You must really pay attention when travelling to Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent, but rules are increasingly being introduced in other cities too.
- Antwerp’s entire city centre is an environmental zone. Read more about the conditions for admission.
- If you do not have access, you can request an exemption which will give you temporary admission. The second option is buying a LEZ day pass for €35 per day at a parking metre in the zone. Restrictions do apply – you can request a day pass for a maximum of eight days per year. You do not need to register cars with a Dutch number plate, but you must register cars with other foreign number plates.
- If you are going to Brussels, a low-emission zone has been in place since 1 January 2019 and it covers the entire Brussels-Capital Region. Foreign vehicles must register on this website before entering the zone. Just like in Antwerp, you can also buy a day pass in Brussels. However, this does not apply to all vehicles.
- For 2022, various vehicles will no longer be allowed to enter the low-emission zone in Brussels. This regards diesel vehicles without Euro norm or with Euro 1, 2, 3 or 4 and petrol, LPG or CNG (natural gas) without Euro norm or with Euro 1 norm.
- As of recently, Ghent has new car-free zones. Since 1 January 2020, there is a low-emission zone within the R40 ring road. Here you can check whether your vehicle can enter the low-emission zone.
Campsites in Belgium rated as excellent:
This panoramic country only has rules for heavy diesel vehicles driving through some of the larger Danish cities, such as Aalborg, Aarhus, Copenhagen and Odense.
- The EcoSticker was abolished in July 2020. A registration obligation was introduced in its place. Please note that since 2020 there is a registration obligation for all vehicles (including foreign vehicles). The driving ban for diesel cars only applies to vans weighing over 3.5 tonnes, buses and large goods vehicles.
You can camp by the water in beautiful locations in the Central Denmark Region. See for yourself:
In Germany, many large cities have ‘Umweltzonen’. You can only enter those cities with an environmental sticker, which they call an ‘Umweltplakette’. There are three types of stickers (green, yellow and red). The colour is allocated to the vehicle depending on its emission levels. In 2022, you can only enter the Umweltzones with a green sticker. Vehicles with the red or yellow sticker are banned everywhere. Recently, they have been considering introducing a blue sticker for extremely fuel-efficient and electric vehicles. However, this is not expected to be introduced in the short term.
- The environmental sticker is valid as long as you drive with the number plate you registered when purchasing the sticker. So you need a separate environmental sticker for each vehicle.
- As it stands, electric cars do not require an environmental sticker because the law has not made an exception for emission free cars.
- Motorists with a European Disabled Parking Badge (placed in clear view behind the windscreen) do not need to purchase an environmental sticker.
- The German government website lists the cities where you require an environmental sticker. A few examples are Cologne, Bonn, Karlsruhe, Munich, Leipzig and Berlin. Often the city suburbs are also included in the environmental zone, so pay attention to where you park your car.
- You do not need an environmental sticker on motorways or provincial roads.
- It costs €5 to €10 to request the sticker. If you do not visibly display the sticker, you risk a fine ranging from €80 to €100.
- Since 2019, there is a ban on diesel cars in several German cities. Right now, you need to pay attention in Berlin, Darmstadt, Hamburg and Stuttgart. The ‘diesel ban’ will probably be introduced in other places in the course of 2022. As far as we know this regards the following cities: Bonn, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Cologne and Mainz. We must add that some plans are still subject to change, and some cities have postponed the date several times already. So before departing to Germany, always check this handy site.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In Great Britain and Northern Ireland there are only a few cities that impose a charge for vehicles driving into the city. If you are planning to drive to the capital London, you should be aware of a few things.
- There is a city toll in historic place such as Durham. It applies to all vehicles and must be paid from Monday to Saturday between 10am to 4pm. You can pay the toll in advance or on the spot at one of the Parking Shops.
- In London, you must pay a congestion charge to drive through the centre. This charge is levied on all vehicles, also cars and motorhomes with a foreign number plate. The zone is indicated by a sign and a camera registers your car. You can only pay for a full day, and it will cost you £15. The rule only applies on workdays from 7am to 8pm.
- Additional rules apply to motorhomes. If you want to drive into the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in London. The charge for driving in this zone depends on the weight and age of your motorhome. Foreign motorhomes must be registered in advance. Register two weeks before going to the city using this form.
- An Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is in effect in London. Vehicles that do not meet the strict requirements need to pay an additional charge of £12.50 on top of the congestion charge to drive into the zone. This government website clearly explains the rules regarding the ULEZ. Since March 2020, there is even a Zero Emission Zone (ZER). Only electric and hybrid vehicles are allowed to drive there.
- A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) came into effect in Birmingham from June 2021. There are also Clean Air Zones in the cities of Bath, Bradford (from 2022), Manchester (from 30 May 2022) and Portsmouth. Vehicles that exceed a certain emissions standard will have to pay a daily charge. Here you can check what the case is for your vehicle.
These campsites have excellent public transport connections to London:
By now, the Italians have quite a few cities with an environmental zone, which they call ‘Zona a Traffico Limitato’ (ZTL). Just a few of the cities with such as zone are Rome, Florence, Pisa, Verona, Bologna, Milan and Palermo. There is a big chance that one of these cities in on your holiday bucket list. So be sure to keep reading.
- For the above cities, the environmental zones are closed to motorised traffic at certain (busy) times. You do not have to pay, except if you take the risk of driving here at times when it is not permitted. If you do, you will get a hefty fine. The times when the ban applies are listed under the traffic signs that indicate the zones. You will see these signs when you drive into the environmental zone.
- Environmental zones are being introduced in more and more tourist areas. For example, you are not welcome within the city walls of Lucca or Pisa with a car or motorhome.
- Some cities charge city toll. Here, you need a vignette to enter the city centre. You can buy an entry pass for one or more days from tobacco shops and kiosks. The city toll in Milan applies on workdays from 7.30am to 7.30pm, in Palermo between 8am to 8pm and in Bologna between 7am to 8pm.
- If you want to quickly drop someone off or unload something, you can but be aware that you will need a temporary permit for that in some places. If, for example, you have booked an apartment in a city centre, the apartment owner is responsible for requesting such a permit.
If you are in Italy and need cooling down, book a pitch at one of these campsites with leisure pool:
When there is a smog alarm in Budapest and in other large Hungarian cities, certain types of vehicles are banned.
- Often, vehicles with a lower emissions standard than Euro 5 are not allowed in the centre when there is a smog alarm. Do you know your car’s emissions standard? This site gives you more information. The smog alarm is often announced one or two days in advance.
- Owners of a vehicle that may not drive during a smog alarm can use public transport for free on presenting their vehicle registration certificate.
- In fact, it is not convenient to visit Budapest with your car or motorhome. In many streets in the historic city centre, no vehicles are allowed to enter at all. So stay at a campsite in the vicinity and take public transport into the city.
Camping in Hungary is becoming increasingly popular. And with such beautiful campsites, we understand why!
In Austria, six of the nine provinces have environmental zones. Since 2015, every van (N1), lorry (N2) and heavy goods vehicle (N3) must have an environmental sticker (UmweltPickerl). It is voluntary for passenger cars. Please note that motorhomes registered in vehicle class N require an environmental sticker. You can find more information about the class under which your motorhome falls on this website.
- There are environmental zones in the provinces of Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria, Tyrol and Burgenland.
- If you don’t have the required environmental sticker, you risk a fine of up to €2,180. The fine can be imposed on both the driver of the vehicle as well as the owner of the vehicle. According to EU guidelines, fines of €70 can be collected across borders in the home country.
- The maximum speed permitted on Austrian motorways is normally 130 km/h. On certain routes, there is an environmental speed limit (IG-L) of 100 km/h. Electric cars are exempt from this. These cars must have an ‘E’ on the number plate.
- There is a possibility that speed limit restrictions could be imposed in or around certain cities if the percentage of smog is high.
- Motorhomes heavier than 3,500 kilos pay a toll via an electric toll system with the GO-Box. You must purchase this before entering the country. That is instead of the vignette.
- Please note that you must charge the card that goes in the GO-Box with between €75 to €100. Moreover, this credit can be used for a maximum of two years.
There are environmental zones in several Spanish cities. In some zones, you can only drive with a sticker and in other zones, you cannot drive at all. The most well-known cities, Madrid and Barcelona, now have low-emission zones which you can only enter if your vehicle has a valid environmental sticker. The regulations are clear to the Spanish but unfortunately not so clear for foreigners. If you drive your vehicle in Barcelona or Madrid, pay attention to whether you drive into an environmental zone. That is indicated by signs. You can read the FAQ about this here.
- Environmental zones are indicated by signs with the text ‘Area de prioridad residencial’. With this, the government is considering the residents as well as the environment. Due to this rule, the number of cars in the city centres has drastically reduced.
- Cameras are used to check that the zones remain car-free. Anyone who violates the rules can expect a fine.
- Madrid is another city where you risk a fine if you drive your car into a designated zone in the centre. Only permits holders are granted an exemption for this. You can recognise the environmental zone through the signs with the name Madrid Central.
- The country’s second city, Barcelona, is one big environmental zone. This means every type of vehicle (e.g. hybrid, diesel, petrol) needs a specific sticker to drive into the city. The environmental zones are indicated by signs stating Zona Baixes Emissiones. Read more on this site.
- There are four types of environmental stickers: blue, green-blue, green and yellow. To allow foreign vehicles into the low emission zones, Barcelona has introduced a handy online registration system. For more information or to register your car right away, go here. Depending on the standard your car meets, you will get continuous access or the option to buy up to 10 day passes for access.
You can spend a lovely winter holiday at a Spanish campsite with indoor pool here:
In this stunning country filled with glaciers and mountains, you only have to pay attention to environmental zones in the capital city of Oslo and in the fjord city of Bergen.
- In this city, the authorities decides when the air quality is poor. If that is the case, they close the city centre for diesel vehicles. Exceptions are vehicles for transporting handicapped and disabled persons.
- The measure is announced a day in advance via the media. So keep an eye on the local websites. If you don’t want to run any risks, public transport is a perfect way to get to your destination.
If you like going on camping holidays with your dog or dogs, these campsites in Norway are highly recommended!
Car traffic is restricted on weekdays in the city centres of Stockholm and Gothenburg.
- If you visit one of these cities with a car or motorhome, you pay what they call a congestion tax. Only motor bikers do not pay the tax.
- In July and on public holidays, no tax is levied on any vehicle.
- The price of the tax depends on the time you drive into the zone. The costs are indicated when you drive into the zone.
- You do not have to buy a sticker because cameras register your number plate. The bill will be sent to your home address.
If you want to go on a lovely hike in Sweden, check out these campsites with great hiking routes that start right at the campsite:
There is always a possibility that regulations could still change per country (or even per city) in the course of 2022. So before departure always check whether the rules described above still apply. Have a lovely trip!