General overview of LEZ-schemas
A Low-Emission zone (LEZ) is a common measure that many cities implement to improve the air quality. In practice, LEZs are defined areas with regulated access for vehicles. The regulation is usually connected to the vehicles EURO standard (exhaust emission level). Non-compliant vehicles are either not allowed to enter the zone, or charged by a higher entry-fee.
Where are low-emission zones?
There are more than 250 cities across Europe with different layouts of LEZ areas. Each country has its own national framework to set up the LEZ based on local needs. In graphic below the main concepts for each country are outlined.
Overview of low-emission-zones in Europe
Can I drive in the LEZ?
In general, your vehicle should meet the minimum emissions standard given by the local LEZ scheme. LEZ compliance is usually verified by attaching a special sticker to the windshield. In camera-based zones, the controll proccess is automated by scanning the vehicle's plate. The purchase of an emission sticker or an online registration is always linked to proof of the required emission class.
LEZ stickers vs online registration
How to check the EURO standard of my vehicle?
The European emission standards define the acceptable limits of exhaust emissions of vehicles sold in Europe. The level of EURO standard is determined by the first registration date. The information about emission standard should be noted in the vehicles registration document either under explicit norm or under equivalent EHS/ES group. Eventually the first registration date will be taken into account. Be aware of slight differences among different vehicle groups (relevant for VANs and CAMPERS).
Find out the emission class of your vehicle
Case My car is not compliant
This is a very individual issue. Therefore always make sure how the LEZ is defined. The non-compliance could lead to high penalties (up to 300€). In generall, the following options should be examined.
- Check if the exhaust system of your car has been retrofited (by DPF filter or SCR cat)
- Apply for exemption (oldtimer, camper, delivery, emergency, etc.)
- Purchase the "ONE-DAY ACCESS"
- Find a time slot when LEZ is not active
- Choose an alternative routing or suitable P+R combination
Case I have forgotten to buy a sticker / register
The emission stickers should be available at all TÜV stations or in the local car clubs. Note that driving in LEZ without a valid sticker or online registration can result in a penalty, even if your vehicle meets the required emission standards. In many camera controlled LEZs is also possible to process the registration with a short delay (max 24h) or a limited number of entries pro year is allowed.
Case Entering LEZ in forein country
So far there is no harmonization mechanism that would take into account the different LEZ approaches accross Europe. In particular, drivers in border regions has to pay more attention to different LEZ strategies. There is no general excuse for forein registered vehicles.