Environmental zones in Europe

In recent years, local traffic restrictions and environmental zones have been introduced in various European cities. Here's an overview of existing regulations.

 

Countries with environmental zones

Belgium has 3 environmental zones(Low Emission Zones (LEZ)) :

If your vehicle does not meet the criteria, permission may be granted (up to 8 times a year), via a daily pass.

Any foreign-registered vehicle entering a LEZ without first being registered is liable to a €150 fine (even if the vehicle complies with the LEZ access conditions).

In 15 towns and cities in France, you need a Crit'air sticker (air quality certificate). This is compulsory if you want to drive during pollution peaks, or in certain defined areas. For more information, visit Home page | Official website for the Crit'Air sticker (certificat-air.gouv.fr), where you can also order this sticker indicating your car's pollution level.

 

To drive in certain German towns and cities, it is compulsory to have an environmental sticker ("Umweltplakette") on your windscreen.

 

Some Italian cities have set up limited traffic zones ("Zona Traffico Limitato") to ban cars from historic city centres.

 

In Spain, since January 2023, new low-emission zones (LEZ) have been introduced in 149 towns and cities. This concerns the major cities (Madrid, Barcelona, Cordoba, Seville...) but also all towns with more than 50,000 inhabitants.

Vehicles with French number plates cannot purchase a Spanish sticker. However, the French Crit'air sticker is recognised in Spain. There is therefore no need to buy a Spanish sticker. However, it's better to check the equivalence between the French classification and the Spanish classification.

In Barcelona, it is compulsory to register your vehicle before entering the city. If your vehicle meets the environmental criteria set by the city, you will be granted a long-term permit to drive in Barcelona. Otherwise, you will need to apply for occasional access limited to 24 days a year. The LEZ is active Monday to Friday from 7am to 8pm. You need to register online and pay a fee of 7 euros

There are eco-zones in most of Norway's major conurbations.

The cities of Stockholm, Malmö, Helsingborg, Göteborg, Lund, Mölndal, Umeå and Uppsala have set up environmental zones, banning heavy goods vehicles (>3.5 t) from these areas.

 

Since October 2023, the municipalities of Copenhagen, Frederiskberg, Aalbord, Odense and Aarhus have set up low emission zones with stricter rules for diesel-powered vehicles. Such cars must have a particulate filter for legal use in the low emission zones.

Older vehicles must register on Miljøzoner EN (miljoezoner.dk) no later than the day they enter the low emission zone. Otherwise, you will receive a fine.

When you enter a low emission zone, cameras carry out the control using automatic licence plate recognition.

A number of towns have chosen to introduce environmental zones in their centres, banning access to heavy goods and diesel vehicles.

These zones are monitored by video surveillance cameras.

The fine varies from €75 for a two-wheeler to €280 for a lorry (€110 for a light vehicle). 

For further information :

Two eco-zones in London

There are two eco-zones in Greater London:

Vehicles must be registered in advance, and checks are carried out using video surveillance cameras.

There is also a £15/day congestion charge.

To check whether you have to pay tax for these three zones, see :

Fines for non-payment are £180 for the ULEZ and between £250 and £2,000 for the LEZ.

Note ! A debt collection company has been appointed by the City of London to send out the requests for payment, Euro Parking Collection plc (epcplc.com).

How do I dispute the fine?

If it was not your vehicle or if you can prove that you paid the toll, appeal against the decision by writing directly to Transport for London (TfL) or on Euro Parking Collection (EPC).

What happens if I don't pay the fine?

If you do not challenge the fine, or if the challenge is unsuccessful, the fine must be paid in accordance with UK law.

If you fail to pay, you will be liable to reminders and surcharges.

Direct enforcement of the fine by EU authorities is no longer possible since the UK left the EU, but this does not affect the validity of the decision in the UK.

Countries where there are no eco-zones, with some exceptions

There are no environmental zones in Finland, with the exception of the city of Helsinki. The latter has created an eco-zone restricting access and traffic to buses and bin lorries in certain parts of the city.

 

There are no environmental zones in Greece, with the exception of the city of Athens.

The city has introduced a system of restricted traffic zones known as "three rings".

  • The "narrow ring": provides for an alternating traffic rule authorising drivers to drive or not to drive in the zone, depending on the last digits of the number plate and the day. On even-numbered days, only number plates ending in an even number are allowed to drive in this zone, and vice versa on odd-numbered days.  The zone is marked by signs (symbolised by "Δ" on a yellow background). 

Period: this measure applies from the 1st Monday in September to the 2nd or 3rd Friday in July of the following year.

Hours: Monday to Thursday between 7am and 8pm and Friday from 7am to 3pm.

Exception: this measure does not apply at weekends or on public holidays. Green vehicles are also excluded.

  • The "wider ring": if the pollution level exceeds a certain threshold (set by the local government), this zone applies the alternating traffic rules mentioned above. Conversely, traffic in the "narrow ring" zone is banned altogether.
  • The "green ring": allows access to all cars meeting European "Euro 5 and 6" standards, or all vehicles with CO2 emissions not exceeding 140g/km.

There are no environmental zones.

Visit the Irish Government's official website on their air quality policy.

There are no environmental zones in Iceland. However, some streets in town centres are closed to traffic during the summer months or at certain times of the day.

 

There are no environmental zones in Malta, with the exception of the city of Valletta, which has introduced a vehicle access control system in the city centre called City Vehicle Access (CVA).

This system uses cameras installed at entry and exit points in the city. You pay a fee based on the time you spend in the city centre, before or after you pass through.

Residents are not subject to this charge.

There are no environmental zones in Romania. However, some cities, such as Bucharest and Baia Mare, have banned vehicle traffic in the city's historic districts.

 

Countries without environmental zones

There are no environmental zones in the following countries: Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria and Cyprus.

 

No information

We currently have no information for the following countries: Latvia, Portugal, Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia.

 

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