Cars built for markets in the European Union have had to meet Euro emissions standards since 1992. The aim of these standards is to reduce pollution, thereby improving air quality, and by extension, people's health.


It's important to know what emission standard your vehicle has been built to, because some Euro standards attract certain levies and penalties when driven in some urban areas. In particular, older cars and diesels attract extra costs.

Your vehicle’s Euro standard can also affect how much you pay for your Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).

Find out what your car's emission standard is, so you know what extra costs you might incur - now, and in the future, as new legislation comes into force.

 

What are "Euro" emission standards?

EU governments have enforced emissions standards since 1970, but only in 1992 did a Europe-wide standard come into force. The first was "Euro 1", and it required all new cars to feature catalytic converters, which in essence meant fuel injection systems were standardised across the board.

The most recent standard, Euro 6, covers almost every new vehicle sale and registration from September 2015 onwards, and has much stricter requirements than Euro 1.

 

Cleaning up our air

Alongside industry and power generation, road transport is a significant contributor to air pollution across the European Union. Emissions standards aim to reduce the following pollutants in particular: Nitrogen oxides (NOx); Carbon monoxide (CO); Hydrocarbons (HC); and Particulate matter (PM).

These standards have had a positive impact on air quality. According to the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders), in 2017 carbon monoxide (CO) had fallen 63% from petrol vehicles, and 82% from diesel - since 1993. Hydrocarbons (HC) and Nitrogen oxide (NOx) had fallen 50% and 84% respectively since 2001. And particulate matter (PM) from diesel has plummeted 96% since 1993.

Different standards have been applied to petrol and diesel engines, because they produce different types of pollution.

 

How will Brexit impact Euro emissions standards requirements?

With a view to maintaining a common set of standards across Europe, it is expected that the UK will continue to uphold the same Euro standards on an ongoing basis.

 

Bumps in the road

Euro emissions standards have been instrumental in improving air quality for nearly three decades. However, the so-called 'dieselgate' scandal of 2015 showed it's possible to 'cheat' these standards, and that car makers have been willing to do so. Tests have also been criticised because they may not always reflect 'real-world' driving conditions. As such, the ‘Real Driving Emissions’ (RDE) test was introduced in 2017.

 

Euro standards and Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)

A vehicle with the latest Euro 6 standard will pay less VED than those with older certificates. How much depends on the model you buy and how fuel efficient/polluting it is. For example, a Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost, or a Kia Picanto, attracts zero VED.

 

Check your standard

Below is a table of the different emissions standards for new vehicles and when they were introduced. Vehicles without any emissions standard - i.e. those built before Euro 1 - may not be permitted to drive in some city centres at all at particular times.

Note that a minority of vehicles may have the previous Euro standard even if it was purchased after the applicable date. Your manufacturer will be able to tell you your Euro emissions standard.

 

Vehicle newly registered from:

 

31 December 1992

Euro 1

1 January 1997

Euro 2

1 January 2001

Euro 3

1 January 2006

Euro 4

1 January 2011

Euro 5

1 September 2015 (majority of vehicles)

Euro 6

 

Get ready for Clean Air Zones

From 2021 Birmignham and Leeds will introduce Clean Air Zones. If your vehicle does not meet applicable emissions standards, you may need to pay to be able to drive.

Simply enter your registration number in this Gov.uk webpage to find out if you'll need to pay.

https://www.gov.uk/check-clean-air-zone-charge

London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and/or the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) also levy fees on vehicles without the requisite emissions standards. Visit TfL's webpage to check your vehicle:

https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle-35896

As of July 2019, London's ULEZ restricts petrol vehicles below Euro 4 and diesel vehicles below Euro 6. The ULEZ charge is £12.50.

 

Sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040

After sales of new combustion engine cars are banned in 2040 - as part of the UK government's Road to Zero strategy -  a full ban on all petrol and diesel cars will come into force in 2050.

With this in mind, a number of UK cities are considering the introduction of low-emission zones.

 

NOx particles and Euro 6/Euro 6 diesel

Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) particles are known to contribute to respiratory problems, and form the basis of Euro 6 (implemented for most new registrations on September 1 2015).

Vehicle makers have introduced new technologies to ensure their engines meet the new emissions standards, including Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), and Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR).

 

What about Euro 7?

The Euro 7 standard is in the pipeline. It "is part of the European Green Deal, will develop stricter emissions standards (Euro 7) for all petrol and diesel cars, vans, lorries and buses."

 

Could my MOT be impacted?

 Any vehicle fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) (required for Euro 5 and Euro 6 diesels) must meet stricter MOT requirements, as of May 2018. As such, vehicles that emit "visible smoke of any colour" will automatically fail. 

 

Specific details of each Euro stand are listed below

 

Euro 6 emissions standards - petrol

CO: 1.0g/km

THC: 0.10g/km

NMHC: 0.068g/km

NOx: 0.06g/km

PM: 0.005g/km (direct injection only)

PN [#/km]: 6.0x10 ^11/km (direct injection only)

 

Euro 6 emissions standards - diesel

CO: 0.50g/km

HC + NOx: 0.17g/km

NOx: 0.08g/km

PM: 0.005g/km

PN [#/km]: 6.0x10 ^11/km

 

Euro 5 emissions standards - petrol

CO: 1.0g/km

THC: 0.10g/km

NMHC: 0.068g/km

NOx: 0.06g/km

PM: 0.005g/km (direct injection only)

 

Euro 5 emissions standards - diesel

CO: 0.50g/km

HC + NOx: 0.23g/km

NOx: 0.18g/km

PM: 0.005g/km

PN [#/km]: 6.0x10 ^11/km

 

Euro 4 emissions standards (petrol)

CO: 1.0g/km

THC: 0.10g/km

NOx: 0.08g/km

 

Euro 4 emissions standards (diesel)

CO: 0.50g/km

HC + NOx: 0.30g/km

NOx: 0.25g/km

PM: 0.025g/km

 

Euro 3 emissions standards (petrol)

CO: 2.3g/km

THC: 0.20g/km

NOx: 0.15g/km

 

Euro 3 emissions standards (diesel)

CO: 0.66g/km

HC + NOx: 0.56g/km

NOx: 0.50g/km

PM: 0.05g/km

 

Euro 2 emissions standards (petrol)

CO: 2.2g/km

HC + NOx: 0.5g/km

 

Euro 2 emissions standards (diesel)

CO: 1.0g/km

HC + NOx: 0.7g/km

PM: 0.08g/km

 

Euro 1 emissions standards (petrol)

CO: 2.72g/km

HC + NOx: 0.97g/km

 

Euro 1 emissions standards (diesel)

CO: 2.72g/km

HC + NOx: 0.97g/km

PM: 0.14g/km