Diesel vehicles are already facing some restrictions in French cities and are expected to increase in the months and years to come, due to their relatively higher emissions.
The EU is working towards a ban on all new vehicles with internal combustion engines (petrol or diesel) from 2030. Vehicles manufactured before this date will still be allowed to circulate, but in France diesel vehicles will be Probably banned in city centers.
There are already restrictions on the circulation of diesel cars in low emission zones, or ZFE-m (low emission zones – mobility) – these are usually in big cities and in these places, the Crit’Air sticker, which classifies the degree of pollution of your vehicle, is compulsory.
Crit’Air: How vehicle emissions zones work in France
The Crit’Air sticker is currently compulsory in 11 French cities: Paris and its inner suburbs, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Toulouse, Nice, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rouen, Reims and Saint-Etienne.
There are plans to expand the program to 43 cities by 2025.
Outside the low emission zones, there are no restrictions on diesel vehicles.
Diesel and Crit’Air
The Crit’Air ranking is based on your car’s registration number and takes into account both the type of vehicle (diesel, petrol/gas, hybrid or electric) and age.
Diesel vehicles from before 2001 count for Crit’Air 5, those from 2001 to 2006 are Crit’Air 4 and the models from 2006 to 2011 are Crit’Air 3.
Some newer diesel vehicles – after 2011 and compliant with Euro 5 and 6 standards – can benefit from the Crit’Air 2 sticker, but no diesel vehicle can benefit from Crit’Air 1 or 0 stickers.
READ MORE: Crit’Air: How vehicle emissions stickers work in France
Where can I currently drive a diesel vehicle in France?
This is where things get tricky, as local authorities have the power to decide their own rules within Crit’Air zones, so restrictions may be different in different cities.
Most cities have banned Crit’Air 4 and 5 vehicles – which include all pre-2006 diesel cars – from city centers.
Regarding the Crit’Air 3 (diesels 2006-2011), some cities, including Paris, ban them on days when pollution levels are high and plan to restrict them completely, while other cities have no restrictions.
When you enter a Crit’Air Restricted Zone, you will see signs telling you which vehicles are allowed.
Are any other restrictions coming?
Yes, in the next few years, French cities should gradually ban Crit’Air 3 labels (2006-2011 diesels) and eventually those with a Crit’Air 2 label (which would cover all remaining diesels).
Paris had originally planned to completely ban pre-2011 diesel cars in the summer of 2023, but local authorities announced in July that the infrastructure needed to enforce it was not ready and so they would delay the ban on Crit’Air 3 until January 1, 2025.
According to the City of Paris website, the goal is to eventually ban all Crit’Air 2 vehicles by 2030, which would imply a total ban on diesel vehicles.
As for Lyon, the city plans to ban pre-2011 diesel vehicles from January 2025, and eventually all diesel vehicles from January 2028.
Similarly, Marseille and Rouen are also expected to ban pre-2011 diesel vehicles from the start of 2025.
It’s likely that the smaller towns that become Crit’Air zones from 2025 will follow a similar path, although it’s unclear at this stage what they will do.
READ MORE: France to relax driving requirements in low-emission zones for certain regions
What about diesel vehicles that take AdBlue?
Newer models of diesel vehicles, usually those built after 2015, can use AdBlue, a solution to reduce emissions from a diesel car.
AdBlue allows diesel cars to meet Euro 6 emission standards, and drivers with some newer diesel car models will need to fill up with AdBlue (which is available at filling stations).
However, even diesel vehicles using AdBlue are still classified by France as Crit’Air 2, which means that they will not benefit from an exception in the event of a ban on Crit’Air 2 vehicles.