Frequently asked questions on emissions stickers

Drivers ask, TÜV NORD Mobilität answers

Environmental zones/particulate matter exposure

Emissions stickers and vehicle classifications



Foreign vehicles

Environmental zones/particulate matter exposure

Who is allowed to drive in the environmental zone and where are the environmental zones?
To improve air quality in areas particularly vulnerable to fine dust such as inner cities, some major roads, and junctions, municipalities and cities have adopted traffic bans.

All vehicles with a sticker on their front window may enter the environmental zone. The sticker corresponds to the emissions standard of each car. As a rule of thumb: Cars with a petrol engine and regulated catalytic converter generally receive a green sticker. Diesel vehicles must meet at least the Euro 2 emissions standard to receive a red sticker. They receive a yellow sticker for Euro 3 and green for Euro 4.

Here you can find the current list of planned environmental zones and interesting links on the topic.

What penalties are there if I drive into an environmental zone if I am not allowed to?

If you are caught without a sticker in the environmental zone, you will be fined €40.00 and receive one point in the Flensburg register.

Does the driving ban apply in the environmental zones throughout the year?

Yes, in the currently planned environmental zones; there could also be temporary environmental zones.

Why is particulate matter harmful?
Particulate matter is a part of what is known as suspended particulate matter, which includes smoke and soot. Especially treacherous: The ultrafine particles come in part from the exhaust of modern diesel vehicles. These particles are so small that you can easily inhale them. Mucous membranes can't keep the tiny particles out.

The life expectancy of people in the EU is, on average, reduced by at least one year by the total fine particulate pollution. Particulate matter causes allergies, an increase in asthmatic attacks, respiratory symptom problems, and lung cancer. Children suffer more frequently from inflammation of the middle ear. In addition, the particulate matter probably affects the cardiovascular system.

It's bad news: The fine particles also contain toxic substances such as lead, vanadium, beryllium, and mercury: the smaller a particle is, the deeper it can penetrate into the lungs.

How is particulate matter produced?

Natural causes of particulate matter include, for example, Sahara dust, micro organisms and their parts, pollen, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions. But a large proportion is produced by human activity: industry, households, road traffic, and power plants are just some of the sources of particulate matter.

What is an environmental zone?

Environmental zones are areas in cities and municipalities, where traffic restrictions apply due to high particulate matter pollution. In these environmental zones, you may only drive with a car that has an emissions sticker. The environmental zones have been set up, where in the previous year the limit for particulate matter was exceeded by more than 35 times. The aim of the environmental zones is to reduce fine particulate pollution below the specified limit.

How do I recognise an environmental zone?
The areas most affected by particulate matter must be marked as "environmental zone" by traffic signs. Based on the illustrated stickers, you can tell which vehicles are allowed in. The end of the environmental zone is indicated by sign no. 270.2.

Emissions stickers and vehicle classifications

Which sticker does my car get?
With the introduction of environmental zones, the question arises for many car owners: Which sticker will I be getting for my car? Depending on the pollutant category, vehicles receive either a red, yellow, or green sticker. Each sticker type is derived from the emission key number. This is given in your vehicle registration papers. Diesel vehicles retrofitted with soot filters receive a certificate.

TÜV NORD Mobility offers a free and very useful service for all car owners : Based on a few criteria to be entered, our emissions sticker calculator can determine the sticker colour.

Where do I get an emissions sticker?

You can conveniently order the emissions sticker online. Just fill out the order form. Or visit your nearest TÜV STATION.

The closest TÜV STATION can be found here.

How much does the sticker cost?
You can get the sticker for 5 euros at TÜV STATIONS. If you order the emissions sticker over the Internet, we send it to you and charge you 6 euros (incl. shipping and handling costs).

Is my sticker only valid in the city in which I bought it?
Stickers are valid throughout Germany in all environmental zones. The planned environmental zones can be found here.

Will my sticker expire?
The badge is valid indefinitely. However, you need a new sticker if your car is re-registered and the licence plates change, as the registration number on the sticker must match that of the licence plates.

Where is the sticker displayed?

The emissions sticker must be attached inside the vehicle to that it is easily visible. We recommend the lower area of the windshield on the passenger side.

What are these stickers for?

The stickers are used to identify the vehicles that are allowed to enter the environmental zones.

Which stickers are there?

  • Pollutant class 1: No sticker (worst pollutant class)
  • Pollutant class 2: Red sticker
  • Pollutant class 3: Yellow sticker
  • Pollutant class 4: Green sticker (best possible sticker)


What does XY-OM 531, for instance, indicate on a sticker?

"XY-OM 531" is a fictitious registration number. It is meant to make clear that the registration number of the vehicle must be entered in the white box on the particulate matter sticker. The sticker is invalid without an entry. The sticker is only valid for the vehicle with the same registration number as on the sticker. The sticker is issued by the garage or inspection centre. The badge will not be issued without registration.

Which documents must I submit when applying for a sticker?
The vehicle registration papers, in original or copy, are sufficient. The vehicle itself need not be presented. This is why stickers can also be ordered conveniently via the Internet.

How are vehicles without a combustion engine treated?

Motor vehicles without a combustion engine (e.g. with an electric motor or fuel cells) belong to pollutant group 4 (green sticker). Such vehicles also require a sticker to travel inside environmental zones.

Do I need a sticker for my motorcycle?

No, only four-wheeled vehicles require a sticker.

Do I need a sticker for my quad/ trike?

It depends on how the vehicle was registered. Most quads and trikes are assigned motorcycle codes and therefore exempt from the environmental ordinance. They are thus authorised to enter environmental zones. The same applies to vehicles registered as tractive machines for agricultural or forestry. However, quads and trikes registered as passenger cars are subject to the ordinance.


How does a soot filter benefit my vehicle?
A soot filter turns your car into a Euro-4 vehicle, thus awarding it a green sticker. You also receive a state subsidy of 330 euros.

By how much is the motor-vehicle tax (category) lowered after retrofitting?

Re-classification from Euro 1 to Euro 2 cuts the tax rate by half. Retrofitting is thus definitely worth considering.

Are the costs of retrofitting an old vehicle reasonable?
Most vehicles prohibited from entering environmental zones are petrol-driven passenger cars without a controlled catalytic converter and old diesel-driven passenger cars.
You may well find it worthwhile to replace or at least upgrade your vehicle. Some used, petrol-driven cars now furnished with a controlled catalytic converter emit very small amounts of nitrogen oxide and nearly no particles. Moreover, many old diesel-driven vehicles can be upgraded from the Euro 1 to the Euro 2 emission standard, thus qualifying for the red sticker for travel in environmental zones. The annual road tax is also reduced by €100 or more, depending on engine displacement.
Another alternative is public transportation. It is up to you to decide on whether the cost is worth it to you, as ultimately it is also a political question.


Which vehicles are exempted from traffic prohibition?

  1. Mopeds, light motorcycles, motorcycles, motor scooters and three-wheeled motor vehicles
  2. Tractive machines for agriculture and forestry
  3. Mobile machines and devices
  4. Work machines
  5. Ambulances and medical cars bearing a sign indicating emergency service
  6. Cars for seriously handicapped people whose handicap ID contains the trademark entry "aG", "H" or "BI"
  7. Vintage cars with an "H" number plate or red "07" number


What happens if I drive into an environmental zone without the required sticker or exemption?
Anyone entering an environmental zone without a sticker or exemption certificate is breaking the law. They will be fined €40 and earn one penalty point in the Flensburg traffic offence register.

When do passenger cars assigned code numbers 01, 02 and 77 receive a green sticker?

Passenger cars with a catalyst of the first generation (appendix XXIII StVZO) and assigned emission code 01, 02 or 77 (with upgrade) also receive a green sticker.

May a vintage car without a sticker or exemption enter an environmental zone?
Vintage cars without a sticker or exemption certificate may travel in environmental zones.

Foreign vehicles

How are foreign vehicles assigned to pollutant categories?
Vehicles registered abroad also require environmental stickers. Licensing regulations govern pollutant classification and related issue of stickers for vehicles registered abroad. In case of doubt, classification is performed based on the year in which the vehicle was newly registered.

Do restrictions in German environmental zones also apply to foreign vehicles without a relevant sticker?

Yes, traffic signs marking entrance into environmental zones are regular and generally applicable. This means In other words, foreign cars must also observe such traffic signs.

As the owner of a vehicle registered abroad, how do I obtain a sticker?

You can conveniently order the emissions sticker online. Environmental stickers can be ordered easily online. Simply fill out the order form in German or English.

Do I absolutely need a sticker for my car in order to enter Germany?

No, you can continue travelling in Germany even without a sticker. You will only be barred from the environmental zones.

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