Driving to France? You're risking a £117 fine if you don't display this sticker

A new emissions system being introduced in cities across France could see British drivers hit with fines of up to £117 if they don’t display a special sticker that can be bought for just £3.20.

The Crit’Air vignette was introduced in Lyon and Grenoble on 1 January, with Paris following on Sunday 22 January.

It puts vehicles into six categories based on their emissions: from the cleanest electric or hydrogen-powered cars (Crit’Air 1), to the dirtiest (Crit’Air 6). The categories correspond to the six European Union emission standards for cars – dating back to 1992 when Euro 1 was introduced.

Drivers in Paris failing to display a sticker could be hit with an on-the-spot fine of between €68-135 (£58 to £117).

There’s a catch, though – the website where you can buy the vignette is only available in French, making it difficult for British holidaymakers to comply with the regulations. An English language website is expected in the near future.

The RAC’s European breakdown spokesman Simon Williams said: “Anyone caught without a sticker risks a fine of up to £117, although we understand the French police are likely to be lenient in the early days.”

If you’re expecting to drive through Grenoble, Lyon or Paris you’ll need to know the European emissions standard of your vehicle to apply for the sticker. If your car is a modern Euro 5 or 6 standard vehicle (including all cars registered since September 2009), you’ll be able to find its category in section D2 of the V5.

The ultimate aim is to ban the highest emitting vehicles from cities across France – particularly on days where pollution is particularly high.

Vehicles that are too old to be given a vignette (including cars registered before 1997) are already banned from being driven in Paris between 8am on 8pm on weekdays.