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Germany Environmental Zones

Environmental zones

In Germany, many cities have an environmental zone where an environmental sticker is mandatory. In addition, cities can set a diesel ban or a diesel and petrol ban on certain streets or neighbourhoods (ban on certain diesel or petrol vehicles). See below.

Environmental sticker

  • A large number of German city centers are only accessible with an environmental sticker (Umweltplakette or Feinstaubplakette). The environmental zones (Umweltzonen) are indicated by signs.
  • The purpose of this measure is to reduce the high particulate matter in the air and air pollution and to encourage the use of public transport.
  • All cars, motorhomes, buses, trucks, on all types of fuel (even electric), must have a sticker within the environmental zones. This also applies to cars with a foreign license plate.
  • There are three color stickers: green, yellow and red. The color assigned to the vehicle depends on the emissions. The award is made on the basis of the registration number. The yellow sticker is only valid in Neu-Ulm, the red sticker has now fallen into disuse in practice and is no longer allowed in any environmental zone.
  • A fourth color (blue) for very economical vehicles is being considered. The introduction of a blue sticker has been postponed until now and can not be expected in the short term. Official details are not yet available.
  • Driving in an Umwelt zone without a sticker or with an incorrect sticker can result in a fine of approximately € 80.
  • In general, diesel vehicles from before 2001 and petrol vehicles from before 1993 are no longer allowed in the environmental zones.

Availability of environmental sticker

  • The environmental sticker is available online and in Germany at garages, municipalities and TÜV inspection stations. This requires the registration certificate of the car. On the basis of the data (year of construction, weight, petrol or diesel engine) it is determined which sticker is required. The sticker is then immediately awarded. The costs for the sticker are determined by the drop point and can vary from € 5 to almost € 50.
  • The sticker must be stuck on the inside of the windscreen (seen from the inside). Failure to visibly apply the sticker can result in a fine of approximately € 80.

Cities with an environmental zone

  • Cities with an environmental zone include Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Dortmund, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt am Main, Gelsenkirchen, Hanover, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Cologne, Krefeld, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Mainz, Mannheim, Mönchengladbach, Munich, Münster , Neuss, Neu-Ulm, Oberhausen, Osnabrück, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Wuppertal.
  • A current and complete list of the places where a sticker is mandatory and which color, can be found at the German government (Umweltbundesamt) at umweltbundesamt.de/themen/luft/luftschadstoffe/feinstaub/umweltzonen-in-deutschland. Click on the link Karte: Umweltzonen in Deutschland or Liste der Umweltzonen in Deutschland or here on gis.uba.de/website/umweltzonen or on gis.uba.de/website/umweltzonen/umweltzonen.php to view the ticket or the list.

Exemption

  • Motorways running through environmental zones are excluded from the scheme. No environmental sticker is required for transit to Austria or Switzerland.
  • Engines, mopeds and mopeds are excluded from the scheme.
  • Old vehicles with a German historical license do not need an environmental sticker. Oldtimers with a foreign license plate are also exempt. When parking in an environmental zone, place a copy of the registration certificate and preferably a FIVA Identity Card clearly visible behind the windscreen. Information about the FIVA Identity Card can be found at fiva.org and fehac.nl.
  • Vehicles in which a valid European disabled parking card is clearly placed behind the windscreen are exempted. They do not need an environmental sticker. It depends on the local regulations or the exemption also applies in cities where a diesel ban is in force, see the site of the municipality concerned.

Diesel ban – Dieselfahrverbot

  • Cities may not only set up an environmental zone but also take more far-reaching measures against diesel vehicles. Cities can decide for themselves which is the minimum required euro emission standard and which vehicles – for example only trucks (German: LKW, Lastkraft car) – are barred.
  • A diesel ban also applies to foreign vehicles.
  • The environmental sticker does not apply to a diesel prohibition.
  • In some cities, heavily polluting petrol vehicles are also banned in the zone where a diesel ban applies.
  • Exemption from the diesel ban may vary from case to case, in many cases disabled people are exempted. See the conditions on the website of the municipality concerned.
  • The way in which the ban is enforced differs per city. Up to now, vehicle documents have been inspected randomly.

Cities with a diesel ban

Where a ban on diesel cars is in force and for which vehicles the ban applies, the aforementioned Karte (gis.uba.de/website/umweltzonen, red-rimmed white circle) and Liste (gis.uba.de/website/umweltzonen/umweltzonen) .php, under the heading ‘Local Durchfahrtsverbote / -beschränkungen’). The German Umweltbundesamt updates these websites, but depends on the information provided by the local authorities. It may happen that not all zones are listed on it. We try to supplement this as much as possible here.

So far, only a few cities have introduced a diesel ban:

  • Hamburg: 1 June 2018 – ban on diesel vehicles up to Euro 5 – Stresemannstrasse between Kaltenkircher Platz and Neuer Kamp, and Max-Brauer-Allee in Altona between Chemnitzstraße / Gerichtstraße / Julius-Leber-Straße and Holstenstraße. Signposted. The ban does not apply to passenger cars in Stresemannstraße. For current information see hamburg.de/luftreinhaltung and gis.uba.de/website/umweltzonen/pdf/Hamburg.pdf.
  • Stuttgart: 1 January 2019 – prohibition of diesel vehicles up to Euro 4 – within the entire existing environmental zone, with the exception of a few roads indicated with ‘Zufahrt zu … frei’.

Several other cities have decided whether to consider a diesel ban or a diesel and petrol ban. As far as is known, with reservation:

  • Berlin: 1 June 2019 – ban on diesel vehicles up to Euro 5 – eleven parts of eight streets.
  • Bonn: 1 April 2019 – prohibition of diesel vehicles up to Euro 4 and petrol vehicles up to Euro 2 – Reuterstraße and Belderberg.
  • Bonn: 1 September 2019 – extension ban diesel vehicles up to Euro 5 – Reuterstraße.
  • Darmstadt: mid-2019 – ban diesel vehicles up to Euro 5 and petrol vehicles up to Euro 2 – Hügelstraße and Heinrichstraße.
  • Essen: 1 July 2019 – ban on diesel vehicles up to and including Euro 4 – inner city and surroundings, in total 18 of the 50 districts including motorway 40.
  • Essen: 1 September 2019 – extension of the ban on diesel vehicles up to Euro 5.
  • Frankfurt am Main: postponed (initial date of introduction was 1 February 2019, new date unknown) – ban diesel vehicles up to Euro 4 and petrol vehicles up to Euro 2 – probably in the entire existing environmental zone.
  • Gelsenkirchen: 1 July 2019 – ban on diesel vehicles up to Euro 5 – Kurt-Schumacher-Straße (center).
  • Cologne: 1 April 2019 – prohibition of diesel vehicles up to Euro 4 – in the entire existing environmental zone.
  • Cologne: 1 September 2019 – extension of the ban on diesel vehicles up to Euro 5.
  • Mainz: 1 September 2019 – prohibition of diesel vehicles up to Euro 4 – in the entire existing environmental zone and up to Euro 5 in certain streets. Introduction is not 100% sure.

It is expected that more cities will follow cities, for example Düren, Hannover and Munich. Concrete plans are not yet known.