Low emission zones in Europe

Will your motoring holiday be affected?

Low emission zones are in place in more than 200 cities in 10 countries across Europe

Low emission zones are in place in more than 200 cities in 10 countries across Europe

More than 200 cities and towns in 10 countries around Europe already have in place, or are preparing to launch, 'Low Emission Zones' (LEZ) - areas where the most polluting vehicles are regulated in some way. Vehicles may be banned or in some cases charged if they enter the LEZ when their emissions are over a set level.

If you're planning a motoring holiday in Europe in your own car it's important to know where these Low Emission Zones are, what kinds of vehicle are affected? What emissions standards are required? And whether registration is required or not.

Most zones affect only vans and lorries but some, including those in Germany and Italy, affect passenger cars too.

Low Emission Zones are also known as Environment Zones:

  • Umweltzonen (Germany)
  • Milieuzones (Netherlands)
  • Lavutslippssone (Norway)
  • Miljozone (Denmark)
  • Miljözon (Sweden)

For detailed information

'Urban Access Regulations in Europe' is a publicly funded website (in English), run on behalf of the European Commission.  The site is regularly updated to provide all the information drivers and operators will need on Low Emission Zones, Congestion Charging and other schemes where access to a city is regulated/restricted.

Besides Maps showing the location of all Low Emission Zones and other Urban Access Regulations and detailed requirements on a city-by-city basis 'Urban Access Regulations in Europe' also contains background information about the reasons for implementing Low Emission Zones.

AA Touring Tips for Germany include information about how owners of foreign registered vehicles can obtain the required windscreen sticker or 'plakette' prior to travel.

London Low Emission Zone

London's Low Emission Zone began operation on 4 February 2008 and initially affected only diesel-engined lorries over 12 tonnes.

The emissions standards that vehicles must meet and the types of vehicle affected by the scheme changed from 3 January 2012 with many additional vehicles having to pay a daily charge  or be modified, certified and registered with TfL from that date.

Urban road charging schemes

London isn't the only European city operating a wide-area road charging scheme.  Similar schemes are in place in towns and cities in Malta, Norway and Sweden with more likely to follow in the future.

Some urban road charging schemes apply to foreign registered vehicles while others do not.

Bergen - applies to all vehicles
Durham - applies to all vehicles
Gothenburg - only applies to vehicles registered in Sweden
London - applies to all vehicles including foreign-registered vehicles
Milan - applies to all vehicles including foreign-registered vehicles. Minimum emissions standards apply too.
Norway - applies to all vehicles including foreign-registered vehicles
Oslo - applies to all vehicles including foreign-registered vehicles
Stockholm - only applies to vehicles registered in Sweden
Trondheim - applies to all vehicles including foreign-registered vehicles
Valletta - applies to all vehicles including foreign-registered vehicles

The website 'Urban Access Regulations in Europe' also includes details of urban road charging schemes and other urban access regulations (traffic restrictions) throughout Europe.

(5 March 2015)

 

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