The car window sign of things to come


From 1 January 2008, the cities of Berlin, Cologne and Hanover introduced low emission zones to mitigate air pollution caused by fine particles.

In the near future, other German cities will follow the example.

Low emission zones are identified by traffic signs and additional signs. The Ordinance on the marking of vehicles stipulates that vehicles have to be marked with stickers (on the windscreen inside the vehicle) and lays down the criteria vehicles have to meet for the different kinds of stickers. Stickers are valid for all low emission zones in any city in Germany.

An overview of low emission zones - both existing and planned - has been drawn up by the Federal Environmental Agency.

Vehicles are divided into emissions groups according to their particulate emissions and they receive a sticker of the colour marking the respective emissions group -

  • red for emissions group 2
  • yellow for emissions group 3 - and
  • green for emissions group 4.

Vehicles with stickers for emissions group 2 or above may enter the currently existing low emission zones. Stickers are only mandatory for cars driven within these zones.

If registration papers do not identify the European emission standard of a vehicle, the date of the vehicle's first registration is used as a basis for classification.

Vehicles with diesel engines can generally reach the next higher emissions group if they are retrofitted with an emission control device such as a particulate trap. Proof of the standard achieved through retrofitting must be provided in form of a certification issued by the garage.

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