Brits driving abroad warned to bring one thing with them or risk a fine

Britons who plan on driving abroad have been warned of a crucial requirement they must fulfill, or else they could face fines. This summer, holidaymakers visiting France may be penalized if they fail to purchase a windscreen emissions sticker before embarking on their trip, according to a leading motoring services company. The RAC reported that the number of areas in the country that require drivers to display a Crit’Air sticker increased to 12 in July, with Bordeaux and Clermont-Ferrand being added to the list.

The Crit’Air stickers are available in six types, each based on the vehicle’s air pollutant emissions. These stickers cannot be bought locally and must be ordered in advance from the French government website. They cost €4.61 and help motorists avoid a fine of €68, which can rise to €180 if not paid within 45 days. However, starting next year, the cost will increase significantly to €750 when camera-based enforcement is implemented.

The RAC has cautioned drivers against falling prey to third-party websites that charge significantly higher prices than the official sticker. The cleanest electric and hydrogen vehicles are identified by a green “0” sticker, while the most polluting vehicles require a “5” sticker. Certain areas in France restrict vehicle movements based on a car’s sticker rating. For example, in Paris, certain roads are only open to cars with “0,” “1,” or “2” stickers during specific hours.

Additionally, other European countries like Spain and Switzerland are also enforcing stricter emissions regulations. However, stickers from one country are not valid in another. Since January 2023, all cars in Spain have been required to have an eco-sticker that classifies their emission rating. Blue stickers indicate the most efficient vehicles, while yellow stickers identify the least efficient and must be displayed in the lower-right corner of the windscreen. In Switzerland, as of January 2020, the most polluting vehicles have been banned from driving through the center of Geneva during pollution peaks. This is enforced using Stick’AIR stickers or vignettes as part of the city’s differentiated traffic scheme.

Rod Dennis, a spokesperson for the RAC, emphasized the importance of researching whether an emissions-based windscreen sticker is necessary when traveling to Europe. He warned that anyone without the correct sticker or driving a non-compliant vehicle into a low-emissions zone risks facing an on-the-spot fine. He highlighted that the regulations regarding emissions stickers have become stricter and that within a few years, almost all vehicles except zero-emission ones will be banned from certain city centers.

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