Germany 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.
- 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 point of sale 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, Darmstadt, Dortmund, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, 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.
- More information can be found on the site of the German government (Umweltbundesamt) at umweltbundesamt.de/themen/luft/luftschadstoffe/feinstaub/umweltzonen-in-deutschland.
- For an up-to-date and complete overview of the places where a sticker is mandatory, visit gis.uba.de/website/umweltzonen. Click on ‘Karte’ for an overview map, on ‘Umweltzonen’ for a list of environmental zones, and on ‘Durchfahrtsbeschränkungen’ for a list of diesel bans.
- Motorways that run through environmental zones are not covered by the scheme. No environmental sticker is therefore required for a transit to Austria or Switzerland.
- Motorcycles, mopeds and mopeds are not covered by the scheme.
- Vehicles in which a valid European disabled parking card is clearly visible behind the windscreen do not require an environmental badge.
- It depends on the local regulations whether the exemption also applies in cities where a diesel ban is in force, see the site of the relevant municipality.
Vintage car Exemption
- An exemption applies to classic cars under certain conditions.
- Oldtimers with a German historical registration number do not need an environmental badge.
- Oldtimers with a foreign registration number are also exempt.
- An oldtimer is older than 30 years according to German rules and must be in good condition.
- When parking in an environmental zone, keep a copy of the registration certificate showing the age of the vehicle, and preferably a FIVA Identity Card clearly visible behind the windscreen. Information about the FIVA Identity Card can be found at fiva.org.
- Note: A diesel ban can also apply to old-timers. The rules differ per place, inquire at the municipality.
- More information: adac.de/rund-ums-fahrzeug/oldtimer-youngtimer/recht-tipps/oldtimer-umweltzone.
Diesel ban – Dieselfahrverbot
- Cities are not only allowed to set up an environmental zone, but also to take more far-reaching measures against diesel vehicles. Cities can determine themselves what the minimum required Euro emission standard is and which vehicles are banned (for example only trucks: LKW, Lastkraftwagen).
- A diesel ban also applies to foreign vehicles.
- The environmental sticker does not apply to a diesel ban.
- In some cities, highly polluting petrol vehicles are also banned in the zone where a diesel ban applies.
- Exemption from the diesel ban can differ per case, in many cases disabled vehicles are exempted. See the conditions on the website of the relevant municipality.
- The method of enforcement of the ban differs per city. Until now, random vehicle documents have been checked.
- There is a lot of opposition in Germany to the introduction of a diesel ban or a diesel / petrol ban, which is why the introduction has already been repeatedly postponed in a number of cities, for example in Bonn, Essen, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Cologne and Mainz.
Cities with a diesel ban
- Until now, only a few cities have introduced a diesel ban:
- Berlin: Prohibition of diesel vehicles up to Euro 5 – in a number of scattered streets. Those streets are signposted, for a map and a list, see berlin.de/special/auto-und-motor/nachrichten/4947848-2301467-drohende-fahrverbote-was-dieselfahrer-wi.html.
- Darmstadt: Prohibition of diesel vehicles up to Euro 5 and petrol vehicles up to Euro 2 – Hügelstraße and Heinrichstraße.
- Hamburg: 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. In Stresemannstraße, the prohibition does not apply to passenger cars. For current information see hamburg.de/luftreinhaltung and hamburg.de/durchfahrtsbeschraenkungen.
- Stuttgart: Prohibition of diesel vehicles up to Euro 4 – in the entire existing environmental zone, with the exception of some roads marked with ‘Zufahrt zu … frei’. Since 1 July 2020, diesel vehicles are prohibited up to and including Euro 5 – in a part of this zone, called the ‘small environmental zone’. For more information and maps of the zones, see stuttgart.de/diesel-verkehrsverbot. Extension of the measures is being studied.
- The intended introduction in Mainz of a ban on highly polluting diesel and petrol vehicles in a few streets has been discontinued for the time being. For more information see mainz.de/leben-und-arbeit/mobilitaet-und-verkehr/dieselfahrverbot-mainz.php.
- An overview map and a list of the places with diesel bans can be found at gis.uba.de/website/umweltzonen. Click on ‘Karte’ for the map, and on ‘Durchfahrtsbeschränkungen’ for the list.
- Where a ban on diesel cars is in force and to which vehicles the ban applies, is indicated on the aforementioned Karte (gis.uba.de/website/umweltzonen, red-rimmed white circle). It is possible that not all zones are listed on it yet.
- The zones are generally indicated by a prohibition sign with below which vehicles the prohibition does or does not apply.
Extensive information can be found at the ADAC: adac.de/verkehr/abgas-diesel-fahrverbote/umweltzone en adac.de/verkehr/abgas-diesel-fahrverbote/fahrverbote/dieselfahrverbot-faq.
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