Travelers planning a European road trip this summer can avoid unwanted fines or penalty by diligently following the new rules for driving in Low Emission Zones across popular European cities.
More than 200 cities across 15 countries in Europe now operate low emission zones (LEZ), restricting vehicles with higher emissions from entering unless a fee is paid, or the vehicle is pre-registered with the necessary authority.
Half of the countries operate LEZ’s all year round, so drivers are advised to plan ahead and check the driving rules and regulations for their holiday destination or risk a fine, which can range from €45 ($47) in Madrid to a hefty €1,800 ($1,887) in Barcelona and €2,180 ($2,285) in Austria. Each of the eight most popular cities regulate different vehicles with the environmental ‘Pickerl’ sticker in Austria currently only obligatory for N-category vehicles (such as vans, trucks and heavy trucks) whereas the Crit’air vignette in France can be divided into six categories and colors, depending on the year of registration, energy efficiency and vehicle emissions.
For those visiting Belgium, drivers are required to have a valid registration which is available free of charge for all cities. However, if the vehicle does not meet the access requirements for entering the low emission zone, motorists must also purchase a LEZ Day Pass or pay an admission fee with costs dependent on the city and type of vehicle. For those visiting Antwerp by car, the fines increase for each offence including €150 ($157) for the first offence, €250 ($262) for the second offence and €350 ($367) for further offences within 12 months so having the correct paperwork is a must.
In Germany, there is a national framework of low emission zones affecting all vehicles (except motorcycles), 24 hours a day with some cities, including Berlin, Stuttgart and Hamburg, imposing a zonal diving ban on vehicles not reaching a minimum diesel Euro 6 standard. A sticker must be purchased and displayed in the windscreen before driving into the zone, costing approximately €6 ($6.29).
For summer staycationers, the UK has 11 cities planning to introduce LEZ’s in 2022, including Manchester, Oxford, Bristol and Birmingham. Greater London also expanded its low emission zone in March 2021 beyond the city center, requiring vehicles that don’t meet the emissions standards of Diesel Euro 3** and Diesel Euro 6*** to pay a daily fee of £12.50 ($15.21).
An increasing number of European countries are introducing low emission zones across cities and towns in a bid to reduce congestion and air pollution. With more destinations joining the list, it is important drivers are aware of the rules and regulations before arriving on holiday.