Protecting and Preserving Germany’s Environmental Zones

Environmental Vehicle Stickers

Germany has instituted three categories for environmental purposes in regards to all vehicles driven in Germany. All vehicles must have an official sticker on the car indicating which areas the vehicle may enter. This is direct response to protecting areas of Germany from pollution and in an effort to maintain air purity.

Environmental Zone History

The first environmental zones were established in Berlin, Cologne and Hannover in the year 2008. Since then other German cities and communities have joined in on the environmental zone practice — more are expected to follow suit. The zones were established after it was determined that many German cities didn’t meet the air purity standards set by the European Union in 999.

There are three different categories:

·         Green: certifies that the vehicle is environmentally acceptable;

·         Yellow: for less acceptable vehicles

·         Red: for those vehicles still less acceptable.

Eventually the red and yellow stickers will be phased out requiring all vehicles to be environmentally acceptable. It is not mandatory that every vehicle have a sticker but the vehicle will not be allowed to enter any environmental zone regardless if the vehicle is eligible for a green sticker. The stickers are difficult to forge and would be destroyed in any attempt to remove them from the windshield.

Vehicle Requirements

Gasoline and diesel vehicles without catalytic converters are restricted from obtaining any of the three stickers and therefore not permitted in any environmental zones.

All gasoline-driven cars with catalytic converters will acquire a green sticker. Diesel vehicles present a greater pollution hazard and many will only be allowed to receive red  or yellow stickers. However, it is possible for top-of-the-line diesel vehicles to obtain a green sticker.

Foreign Vehicles

Vehicles with foreign plates are also expected to obtain an environmental zone sticker if traveling through Germany. This includes United States military forces stationed in Germany. Stickers can be obtained at vehicle registration offices and vehicle inspection stations for a €5 fee. The vehicle’s registration form will be required. It is possible to order one online but it is best to check with the local registration office first. It general, it is a good idea to seek an environmental sticker at least three weeks prior to the visit to Germany. However, a sticker is not required for foreign vehicles. As long as the vehicle stays on the major highways or more rural areas, a sticker is not necessary.

Cities with Established Environmental Zones

Below is a list of some of the cities that have previously initiated the zones:

·         Berlin

·         Hannover

·         Köln

·         Dortmund (Brackeler Straße)

·         Leonberg

·         Ludwigsburg

·         Mannheim

·         Ilsfeld

·         Schwäbisch-Gmünd

·         Reutlingen

·         Stuttgart

·         Pleidelsheim

·         Bochum

·         Bottrop

·         Tübingen

·         Dortmund

·         Essen

·         Duisburg

·         Frankfurt am Main

·         Mülheim an der Ruhr

·         Gelsenkirchen

·         München

·         Recklinghausen

·         Augsburg

·         Oberhausen

·         Bremen

·         Karlsruhe

·         Nürnberg

·         Pforzheim

·         Herrenberg

·         Ulm

·         Freiburg (Breisgau)

·         Heidelberg

·         Mühlacker

·         Dresden

·         Dresden

·         Bonn

·         Freiburg (Breisgau)

·         Wuppertal

·         Heidelberg

·         Pfinztal

·         Münster

·         Osnabrück

The following cities have not yet set a fixed date but plan zones:

·         Braunschweig

·         Dresden

·         Gera

·         Jena

·         Darmstadt

·         Kassel

·         Regensburg

·         Nürnberg

·         Magdeburg

·         Arnsbach

·         Ruhrgebiet-Großumweltzone

·         Arzberg

·         Aschersleben

·         Bernau

·         Brandenburg an der Havel

·         Bayreuth

·         Burgdorf

·         Castrop-Rauxel

·         Chemnitz

·         Burghausen

·         Cottbus

·         Erfurt

·         Erwitte

·         Eberswalde

·         Görlitz

·         Halle (Saale)

·         Frankfurt an der Oder

·         Hambach

·         Ingolstadt

·         Itzehoe

·         Kassel

·         Hamburg

·         Krefeld

·         Landshut

·         Lindau

·         Lahn-Dill

·         Ludwigshafen

·         Mainz

·         Mühlheim an der Ruhr

·         Nauen

·         Lutherstadt Wittenberg

·         Neuruppin

·         Neuss

·         Passau

·         Neuwied

·         Potsdam

·         Schwandor

·         Speyer

·         Rhein-Main

·         Trier

·         Weiden

·         Weimar

·         Worms

·         Wuppertal

·         Warstein

·         Würzburg

Environmental Zone Signs

Many areas are labeled with specific signs indicating the types of vehicles that may enter that particular zone. The signs indicate which stickers are allowed through beyond the sign. If the sticker on the vehicle is not indicated on the sign, the vehicle must be turned around immediately or risk being fined. Vehicles that are fined are subject to fines starting at €40, this amount can change and it is recommended checking with local authorities for current fine amounts.

To find continually updated list of current and planned environmental zones, please visit: Umwelt-Plakette. An excellent resource, available in English, with an extensive informational section regarding Environmental Zones may be found at TÜV NORD.


Saskia Petz

Tanja Traut

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