One thing many drivers are unaware of is the emergence of Low Emission Zones across Europe. An LEZ is a traffic pollution charge scheme that aims to reduce the harmful exhaust emissions of highly polluting vehicles. Many such schemes are being introduced across European countries in a bid to reduce pollution, but driving in a designated zone with the wrong type of car or without the right permit could land you with a fine of more than £2000. Although many cities do not ban higher-emission vehicles from entering these LEZ zones, daily charges are often enforced and failure to pay these could result in heavy penalties.
Stickers are not universal and differ from country to country, so ensure you order the correct one in advance
Countries across Europe have different polices so it is worth doing your research of the places you are likely to visit, before you set off on your travels.
Spain, Denmark and Germany require a sticker to be on your car before entering into a LEZ or environmental zone.
And in France they have recently introduced a “clean air” windscreen sticker as a legal requirement in most of its cities, including Paris, Lille and Strasbourg.
If you are caught driving without the sticker in France, which costs just over €3 (£2.78), you could be given an on-the-spot fine of up to £117.
It is also worth planning ahead, as the air quality certificate, which is purchased online, can take as long as 10 days to arrive.
However, Moneybarn’s Charles Stubbings warns of the importance to check whether you need it for the country you are traveling to.
“Before purchasing a sticker, it’s important to check whether they are mandatory in the area(s) you’re travelling to,” he said.
“As unofficial websites may trick you into thinking you need them, and may even charge up to five times more than the cost of official stickers.
“Stickers are not universal and differ from country to country, so ensure you order the correct one in advance.”
For instance when driving in some areas of Austria, all foreign cars are required to display an environmental badge called an ‘Umwelt-Pickerl’.
These badges can be bought online for around €40 (£37) but if you are caught driving a foreign car without a badge you could face a fine of up to €2200 (£2042).
As European countries look to tackle harmful emissions new legislation is due to come into effect at the start of 2020, and vehicles that may have previously been exempt could no longer be.
“Stricter standards come into effect on 1st January 2020 for some countries, including Italy and Belgium,” Stubbings added.
“Which may make a previously acceptable vehicle exempt. So, check regulations regularly and before any trips so you don’t get caught out.”
Some European countries don’t have a sticker system and to make sure you won’t fall foul of the rules, it’s advised you register your car to make sure you can drive it without being hit with a fine.
“For countries without a sticker system, vehicles may need to be registered beforehand to ensure they meet European standards,” Stubbings said.
“As they won’t appear on the country’s vehicle database during your travel.
“In Belgium, the cities of Antwerp, Ghent and Mechelen are considered LEZs and have adopted the same approach as London.
“Before leaving for your trip, you’ll need to register your car to determine whether it can travel in the chosen destination without paying a charge.
“You’ll need to provide information on your vehicle, like licence plate number and registration date.”
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