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Exceptions to the driving prohibitions within the environmental zone

From 1 July 2014 entry for vehicles only with green fine particle sticker

low emission zone Ruhrgebiet in Essen

Czech green sticker is also accepted

Since 1 January 2012 Ruhr Area environmental zone in the urban area of Essen

Photo: Skyline of Essen

General exceptions from the sticker duty and traffic prohibitions in the environmental zones (Germany-wide)

According to the appendix to the 35th ordinance on the implementation of the Federal Pollution Prevention Law (ordinance on marking motor vehicles that make a lower contribution to pollution), the vehicles listed below are exempt from the sticker duty and the prohibition on driving in the environmental zones in Germany:

  • mobile machinery and devices
  • working machines
  • agricultural and forestry tractors
  • two-wheeled and three-wheeled motor vehicles
  • ambulances, doctor's cars marked "Arzt Notfalleinsatz" (in accordance with article 52 para. 6 of the Road Traffic Licensing Law)
  • motor vehicles used by or for transporting persons who have exceptionally impaired mobility, who are helpless, or who are blind, and who can verify this with the mark "aG", "H" or "Bl" in their severe disability ID in accordance with article 3 para. 1 no. 1 to 3 of the Severe Disabilities Ordinance
  • vehicles for which special rights can be claimed under article 35 of the Road Traffic Law
  • vehicles of non-German troops of non-aligned countries in NATO, which are stationed in Germany within the framework of military cooperation, provided that they are used for essential military transportation purposes
  • civilian motor vehicles that are used on the orders of the German military, provided that they are used for transportation that cannot be postponed when wanting to fulfil the sovereign business of the German military
  • vintage cars (in accordance with article 2 no. 22 of the Vehicle Licensing Ordinance) that have a registration plate in accordance with article 9 paragraph 1 (the so-called "H" registration plate) or article 17 of the Vehicle Licensing Ordinance (red registration plate), as well as vehicles that are licensed in another member state of the European Union, by another signatory of the Treaty on the European Economic Area or Turkey, provided that they fulfil equivalent requirements

Exceptions to the environmental zone under the Ruhr Area Clean Air Plan

Official exemptions by way of general decree

Without application, and without a separate exemption by way of general decree, the following motor vehicles / matters are also subject to the following exemptions from the prohibitions on driving in the environmental zones of the Ruhr Area Clean Air Plan:

  • Vehicles with a red dealer's registration plate (registration number starts with 06) and vehicles with temporary registration plates (registration number starts with 04),
  • Trial and testing vehicles under article 70 para. 1a or article 19 para. 6 of the Road Traffic Law, and
  • Vehicles owned by persons with amelia or phocomelia, or with a comparable functional deficit. Within the environmental zone, the verification of the severe disability requires the clearly visible placement of the exception permit approving easier parking for disabled persons behind the windscreen of the motor vehicle (visibility principle).
  • In order to take consideration of the additional traffic on the autobahns, which are not affected by the traffic restrictions, based on the regulations of article 41 para. 2 no. 6 of the Road Traffic Law, journeys are excluded from the traffic restrictions where they follow the marked diversion routes (marked 454, 455, 457 or 460 or with the so-called "Red Dot" in the meaning of the decree from the Ministry of Construction and Transportation III B 3 – 75-02/217 dated 8 February 2006), in order to take consideration of special traffic situations.
  • Applies for the "green" environmental zone (after 1 July 2014):
    Cars, utility vehicles (motor vehicles of categories N1, N2 and N3), coaches and foreign vehicles of pollutant category 3 (yellow sticker) in accordance with appendix 2 no. 3 para. a - h of the 35th Federal Pollution Prevention Ordinance, i.e. exhaust gas category Euro 3, for which technical retrofitting is not possible, and which was licensed before 1 January 2008 to the vehicle owner / company or its legal predecessor. The impossibility of retrofitting vehicles of pollutant category 3 (yellow sticker) with a commercially available fine particle reduction system to shift them to pollutant category 4 (green sticker) must be verified by an officially recognised expert from a technical testing centre. The verification that you obtain from the technical testing centre (TÜV) must be carried during every journey in the environmental zone, and when parked must be placed visibly on display behind the windscreen.
    Attention: This regulation does not cover older vehicles with yellow stickers (initially licensed before the year 2000) that have already been retrofitted with an appropriate fine particle reduction system to take them from pollutant category 0-2 (no sticker or red sticker) to the yellow sticker category. (vehicles in accordance with appendix 2 no. 3 para. i - l of the 35th Federal Pollution Prevention Ordinance)

Exemption permits on application

Exemptions can be granted upon application in two different types of cases:

  • Camper van owners, for journeys from home to the autobahn, if it is not possible to retrofit the vehicle or if the retrofitting costs for equipping the vehicle with a fine particle reduction system would exceed Euro 4,500.
    An application form with the required documents can be found to download (pdf, 976 kB) on the right (24 kB).
  • Exemption permits in cases of demonstrated economic and social hardship, for specific travel purposes.
    Application forms with the required documents for private persons and business operators can be found to download on the right.
    More information
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