…and now a new one. It’s Crit’Air, an air quality certificate for France. I got it because we’re planning holidays in France in the near future, and while it is not clear precisely how much this certification will be a day-to-day requirement, having it in advance is one less thing to worry about.
What is Crit’Air?
Crit’Air is a certification scheme designed to alleviate the effects of vehicle pollution. There are 6 levels of certification, ranging from fresh and clean green to sooty grey. A sticker is not mandatory everywhere in France, but it is required to enter locations where schemes are in place. This is a growing list comprising both localised areas of cities, and much broader zones covering whole départements.
Where does it apply?
The list is extensive and growing and can be seen on the Crit’Air website. At the moment, if you’re going to Brittany then, as long as you avoid Rennes, you’re probably OK. It might be possible to travel through France without entering any of these zones, but it would be a navigational challenge – and it’s only going to get worse.
What are the zones?
There are two types of zone:
- ZCR environmental zones – ‘zones à circulation restreinte’
- ZPA air protection zones – ‘zones de protection de l’air’
ZCR environmental zones
These zones are permanent, and a Crit’Air sticker is required for entry. The signs to would contain additional information relating to the types of vehicle allowed to enter the zone. Anyone entering a zone without a sticker would risk a fine.
ZPA air protection zones
ZPAs are rather complicated – restrictions in these zones are temporary, and only applied after elevated levels of pollution have been measured for a period of time. It’s not clear from the Crit’Air web site how this information is communicated to drivers, but a smartphone app is available, covering not just France but other European schemes.
How do I apply, and what does it cost?
This link to the Crit’Air website is in English, and you can start the application process from there. You will need your vehicle registration document to supply the required information for the application. In my case it proved straightforward.
The total cost, including postage, was €4.21. I received the sticker in less than 2 weeks. In theory the certification lasts as long as the vehicle, but I guess broken windscreens might prove a challenge.
This is an area where you would have thought it would be sensible to have a Europe-wide scheme, if only so that we don’t have to drive around with 27 different air quality stickers on our windscreens, but it looks as though governments are all doing their own thing. The best known of the other environmental badges is probably the German Umweltplakette. I don’t (yet) have direct experience of this, but I believe it is very similar to Crit’Air, with a cost of around €10.00. You will find information about Umweltplakette here. The same smartphone app that provides status information about Crit’Air also covers Umweltplakette.