Tourists in France face a £155 fine without the lesser-known permit

UK tourists looking to drive their vehicle to France this summer are being warned to apply for a key item at least 10 days before they leave – or face a €180 (£155) fine. Clean Air stickers (known as Crit’Air vignettes) are a lesser-known but critical piece of documentation that many drivers forget to apply for when traveling across the Channel.

The stickers, which cost just €3.72 and can be easily ordered online on the French government website, have been introduced to help reduce C02 emissions across the country. These identify your vehicle’s emissions based on the vehicle’s Euro emission standard.

Foreign drivers must display their Crit’Air sticker at all times while driving in Paris and many other areas including Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Toulouse, Nice, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rouen, Reims and Saint-Étienne .

Drivers who do not follow the rules will be fined up to €180 (£155). Crucially, Crit’Air stickers can take up to 10 days to arrive in the post – so it’s vital that tourists apply as soon as possible before driving their vehicle in France. The good news is that once a sticker has been obtained, it is valid for the life of that vehicle.

As well as a Crit’Air sticker, Ripe Caravan Insurance has outlined all the essential documents that drivers and anyone towing a caravan must have with them when traveling in Europe and beyond in 2024. This is alongside costs and deadlines required to replace each document. , if they need it.


It’s time to get or replace

A fully valid driving license and National Insurance Number.

Allow three weeks.

If you want to tow a caravan over 750kg abroad, you will also need to update your license to show you can drive category BE. This is free. More information can be found here.

A copy of your DVLA driving record and license verification code.

You can get this immediately on the government website, but each license verification code is only valid for three weeks.

V5C or vehicle logbook (original version, not a copy).

Usually within five working days, but this could be longer.

Proof of car insurance (don’t forget to check if your policy covers you abroad as some will only offer third party cover when driving in Europe. This means you won’t be covered for things like accidental damage).

Check whether you need to tell your insurer that you plan to drive abroad. This information should be found in your policy documents.

Up to four days.

Check if you need a green card.

Green cards are no longer required when driving in many European countries. However, drivers will need a green card for their vehicle AND their caravan in the following places:

  • Anywhere outside the European Economic Area
  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Moldavia
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

If you are traveling to other countries, you may need additional insurance for your caravan. Check with your supplier.

Up to six weeks.

An International Driving Permit (IDP) if you are driving outside of Europe.

You may also need an IDP to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have a paper driving license or a permit issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.

You can get an IDP over the counter at a post office. They cost £5.50. A 1926 or 1949 permit lasts 12 months. A 1968 license lasts for 3 years or until the UK driving license expires, whichever comes first.

your passports

Allow 3 weeks. You must not travel if your passport is less than six months old before it expires. Renewing or replacing a British passport costs £88.50 if you apply online or £100 if you complete a paper form.

Your travel insurance documents.

You should be able to access them right away by calling your insurance provider.

A visa if you are traveling outside designated visa-free countries.

This varies depending on the country you are traveling to. Check with the relevant embassy at least two months before travel.

A Crit’air “clean air” sticker if you drive in France.

10 days. It costs €3.72 for sticker and postage. You can check if you need one and apply here.

A UK number plate identification sticker. You will need two if you are towing a caravan.

These can be purchased over the counter in many UK stores.

John Woosey, founder of Ripe Caravan Insurance, said: “From passports to visas and travel insurance, there are a multitude of important documents that need to be arranged before a trip abroad. Also, frustratingly, the rules change regularly – so keeping up with the latest regulations can be a headache.

“So it’s understandable that the application for the Crit’Air sticker could be lost in the process. However, it would be worrying if your long-awaited holiday was tarnished because of such a small admin issue and the resulting fine. So we urge tourists to double-check that they are organized in time to avoid disappointment.”