Everything you need to know about the German emissions sticker

10 May 2024

4 mins read


Everything you need to know about the German emissions sticker

Driving in Germany can be a wonderful way to soak up the sights and scenery on your own terms.

Just like many other European countries, Germany is striving towards a greener future, with a number of its major cities operating with low-emissions zones.

This means that vehicles are required to meet specific exhaust emissions standards in order to enter.

You can show that your hire car meets this criteria by clearly displaying an emissions sticker.

Before your trip, it is always worth researching the rules and requirements of your destination country, so you can confidently take to the roads and avoid any mishaps.

For extra reassurance when driving abroad, you could take out a standalone excess insurance policy.

Our hire car cover eliminates any potential worries by ensuring you are reimbursed for any accidental damage caused to your vehicle, so you can continue enjoying your holiday.

To make sure you are well-equipped for your travels, continue reading for all you need to know about German emissions stickers and zones...


Do I need an emissions sticker to drive in Germany?

Yes, all vehicles are required by law to display an emissions sticker when driving through a low-emission zone.

This is also mandatory for electric vehicles.

The sticker will need to be clearly visible on your windscreen.


What are German emissions stickers?

In Germany, all vehicles must display a sticker, otherwise known as a umweltplakette, to indicate its emissions standard.

Previously, the standard was to display a green, yellow, or red sticker, that indicated how polluting your vehicle is according to its Euro emissions standard.

However, many cities in Europe, including Germany, will now only allow entry to those displaying green stickers.

While this may seem strict, Europe has identified that cars account for 61% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, and they are aiming to reduce this by 90% by 2050.

If your vehicle fails to qualify for a sticker, you will be prohibited from entering or travelling within any of Germany’s low-emission zones.


What are the low-emission zones in Germany?

The majority of German cities have low-emission zones, which are marked by signs stating ‘umweltzone.’

This indicates that you are entering an environmental zone and must have a sticker clearly displayed on your vehicle.

Some of the cities where you will find these areas include, Berlin, Bonn, Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich.

It is important to be aware that each city does have its own designated ‘umweltzones,’ emission standards, and timings, so be sure to check the specifics of each city before travelling.


Where can I get a German emissions sticker?

Now that you are aware of which cities require an emissions sticker, you can plan your trip accordingly.

We recommend ordering one well in advance of your trip, as sometimes delivery can take up to a few weeks.

If you are travelling with friends or family and have hired multiple vehicles, each car will require its own emission sticker.

The best place to purchase your stickers from is on the official site for the area you will be travelling to.

For example, if you are wanting to visit Berlin, you would buy your sticker from the Berlin.de website.

To apply for your emissions sticker, you will be required to provide part one of the vehicle registration certificate or the equivalent of foreign documentation in electronic form.


What is the fine if you don’t have a sticker?

The following vehicles are required to display a sticker when travelling through German low-emission zones:

If you are caught without a sticker, you will be issued a fine of €100, as well as any additional charges for entering, parking, and stopping in an environmental zone.

Failing to display a German emissions sticker could also mean you are not allowed to continue your onward travel.


Who doesn’t require a German emissions sticker?

While certain types of vehicles are required by law to use a sticker, there are some exceptions to the rule.

If you are planning to explore Germany on your motorcycle, moped, or scooter, you will not need to display one.

This rule also applies to emergency vehicles, tractors, and certain models of classic cars.

Similarly, European blue badge holders do not need to purchase an emissions sticker; however, they must ensure their badge is placed in clear view on the dashboard.


Are there areas where I won’t need an emissions sticker?

Yes, it is not mandatory to display a sticker when you are driving on the motorway (autobahn), even if it takes you through a zone that is classed as a low-emission zone.

You are also not required to use one when driving along provincial roads.

However, it is important to always be aware of your surroundings and have your sticker on hand should your travel plans change.


Final thoughts

Your trip to Germany should be spent soaking up the sights and culture rather than worrying about whether you are unknowingly breaking the law.

With a bit of extra research and planning, you can ensure you have everything you need to seamlessly travel through Germany and its low-emission zones.

So, now the only thing you will have to worry about is which German city to visit first!