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Ghent’s low emission zone from 2020

From January 2020, Ghent’s city centre (the area within the ring road) becomes a low emission zone (LEZ). Just like Ghent’s circulation plan, the goal is to improve the air quality for those who live, work and visit in our beautiful city. From January onwards, only vehicles with low emissions will be allowed in this area. Through this measure the city wants to considerably reduce air pollution, which has a major impact on every inhabitant, and certainly on risk groups such as children, seniors and people with lung diseases.

Focus on diesel cars

Cars under a certain European standard (expressed by ‘EURO’ followed by a number) will no longer be allowed to freely enter the low emission zone. The European standard can be found on your vehicle registration certificate. The focus is mainly on old diesel cars because of their high level of emissions.

  • Diesel cars with a European standard of 3 or lower will only have access to the low emission zone for a maximum of 8 days a year, by purchasing a ‘day pass’
  • Diesel cars with a European standard of 4 will still be able to enter the area but subject to payment, and this is only a transitional measure until 2025.
  • Diesel cars with a European standard of 5 or more can continue to access the low emission zone without any change.

The regulations for petrol cars are less strict, because they have less fine emissions. They can still freely enter the low emission zone if they have a European standard of 2 or higher.

 

Exemptions within the low emission zone

A number of exemptions are in place for specific target groups, such as holders of a parking card for disabled people, or vintage cars older than 40 years. You can find out which vehicles are exempt here, and which vehicles are entitled to a temporary permit here.

Grants & refunds

Stad Gent also provides a number of subsidies and grants to help car owners leave their diesel cars behind: 

  • Residents of the low emission zone can receive a grant to pay for the scrapping of their old car (if it’s not allowed in the low emission zone.)
  • Every Ghent resident receives a bonus from Stad Gent when handing in their number plate, so that they can spend this on getting around Ghent in a more sustainable way.
  • Every Gentenaar is entitled to a refund of the car-sharing registration fee if they join a car-sharing organisation.
  • Finally, anyone living in Ghent can also claim a grant towards the purchase of an electric or CNG shared car.

For full information on the benefits Ghent locals are entitled to, see here.

What about foreign number plates?

If you or perhaps your visiting family and friends want to enter Ghent’s low emission zone with a foreign number plate, you’ll need to check if it’s allowed in advance here. And beware: even if your vehicle fulfills the conditions, you will still have to register the vehicle in advance. This will be possible from September 2019 onwards at www.lez2020.gent and you will only have to do this once. The registration is free of charge and valid in all Flemish cities with a low emission zone until 31 December 2024. 

Need more info on Ghent’s low emission zone?

Would you like to know for yourself whether your car will still be able to enter Ghent’s low emission zone? You should find all the answers here. But if you have any other questions you can also email lez@stad.gent or call the LEZ-line on 09 210 10 30. Stad Gent is also organising information sessions and ‘registration days’ in several neighbourhoods throughout 2019. Check out the calendar here.

Heather
Heather is a language and travel geek at heart, having gotten the bug for it while studying German and Italian in her home country, England. After managing hotel content for a start-up in Berlin, being an Erasmus student in Bologna and writing for Frommer's travel guides while in London, she moved to Gent in 2015 for a year. Still here, Gent must have been doing something right! She's now determined to help other newbie expats settle in and build a great life here in this beautiful city. If you'd like to get in touch, send an email to heather@thesquare.gent

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