Euro 1 to Euro 6 guide – find out your vehicle's emissions standard

Euro 1 to Euro 6 guide – find out your vehicle's emissions standard
Since 1992, European Union regulations have been imposed on new cars, with the aim of improving air quality - meaning a car has to meet a certain Euro emissions standard when it is made. 

Whether your car is a Euro 6 diesel or a Euro 1 petrol, knowing your car's rating is now more important than ever, given the increasing number of levies and fines being introduced for older cars, especially diesels.

Read on to find out what Euro rating your car is and if you will be affected by existing and future charges.

AUTUMN BUDGET UPDATE: Only NEW Euro 6 diesels that don't pass real-world tests face increased tax

ULTRA LOW EMISSIONS ZONE UPDATE: ULEZ to expand in 2021

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What are the European 'Euro' emissions standards?

Although emissions regulations date back to 1970, the first EU-wide standard – known as Euro 1 – wasn’t introduced until 1992, which saw catalytic converters became compulsory on new cars, effectively standardising fuel injection. 

Since then, there have been a series of Euro emissions standards, leading to the current Euro 6, introduced in September 2014 for new type approvals and rolled out for the majority of vehicle sales and registrations in September 2015.

The regulations, which are designed to become more stringent over time, define acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of new light duty vehicles sold in EU and EEA (European Economic Area) member states.

Why do we have Euro emissions standards?

Euro emissions standards explained

 

The EU has said that “the air pollutant emissions from transport are a significant contribution to the overall state of air quality in Europe”, with industry and power generation being the other major sources.

The aim of Euro emissions standards is to reduce the levels of harmful exhaust emissions, chiefly:

  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) 
  • Hydrocarbons (HC)
  • Particulate matter (PM)

These standards are having a positive effect, with the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders), claiming: “It would take 50 new cars today to produce the same amount of pollutant emissions as one vehicle built in the 1970s.”

In 2017, the SMMT quoted the following figures in support:

  • Carbon monoxide (CO): petrol down 63%, diesel down 82% since 1993
  • Hydrocarbons (HC): petrol down 50% since 2001
  • Nitrogen oxide (NOx): down 84% since 2001
  • Particulate matter (PM): diesel down 96% since 1993

Because petrol and diesel engines produce different types of emissions they are subject to different standards. Diesel, for example, produces more particulate matter – or soot – leading to the introduction of diesel particulate filters (DPFs).

The EU has pointed out, however, that NOx emissions from road transport “have not been reduced as much as expected…because emissions in ‘real-world’ driving conditions are often higher than those measured during the approval test (in particular for diesel vehicles)”.

According to Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) stats from 2018, transport still accounted for 33% of all carbon dioxide emissions, with most of this coming from road transport. 

However, BEIS estimates current emissions from road transport have fallen back by around 8.5% over the last decade to levels last seen in 1990, having previously peaked in 2007.

Euro emissions standard checker

The table below is reproduced from the standards set out by the European Commission and acts as a guide to show how the different Euro emissions categories are applied to new vehicle models approved after a specific date. 

Every car sold up to a year after the dates below should conform to the appropriate standards, but check with your manufacturer directly as some cars bought after the implementation date may still have the previous Euro standard. 

If your vehicle is older than any dates listed below, it won't have a Euro emissions standard, meaning you may be banned entirely from entering some towns and cities at certain times.

My car newly registered from:Emissions standard
31 December 1992Euro 1
1 January 1997Euro 2
1 January 2001Euro 3
1 January 2006Euro 4
1 January 2011Euro 5
1 September 2015 - but see important note belowEuro 6
The table is a guide and it is recommended you contact the vehicle manufacturer to check your car’s standard is if you are unsure.
 

Important note: as the Jaguar website helpfully explains, 'individual vehicles already on sale that were built by, and dispatched from, the manufacturer before 1st June 2015 can continue to be sold until 1st September 2016'. This in effect means that a car sold before 1st September 2016 may still have a Euro 5 engine. Check with the manufacturer to be certain.

Why do I need to know my car’s Euro emission standard?

In 2018, the government announced its new strategy – called the Road to Zero – to support the transition to zero emission road transport, which includes a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and a complete ban by 2050. 

As part of this, some authorities across the UK are considering implementing low-emission zones, following the example of London, which increased emissions restrictions by establishing the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in April 2019. 

What is the emissions standard for the London ULEZ?

London’s ULEZ restricts vehicles based on their Euro emissions standards, with those that do not meet the standard required to pay a toll.

As of July 2019, the minimum emissions standards are Euro 4 for petrol vehicles and Euro 6 for diesels. The daily ULEZ charge is £12.50, although annual discounts are available. 

For more information on what ULEZ charges your vehicle will face, see Transport for London’s guide.

What is the emissions standard for France?

Knowing your car’s emissions standard is even more important if you’re planning on driving across Europe. Several cities and regions across Europe have low-emission zones, and these zones use Euro standards to regulate them.

In France, these regulations are called the Crit’Air system, a multi-category system that sees vehicles defined by their emissions through a coloured, numbered sticker on their windscreen. 

Cities, including Paris, have a permanent low-emission zone in place which restricts entry of the most polluting vehicles during certain times through the week.

Other areas have emergency zones in place, which see temporary restrictions introduced when air pollution is dangerously high. Entry is then based on the Crit’Air number displayed on each vehicle. 

For more information, read our guide to Crit’Air stickers.

Euro 6 and Euro 6 diesel

Implementation date (new approvals): 1 September 2014

Implementation date (most new registrations - see important point below table above): 1 September 2015

The sixth and current incarnation of the Euro emissions standard was introduced on most new registrations in September 2015. For diesels, the permitted level of NOx has been slashed from 0.18g/km in Euro 5 to 0.08g/km.

A focus on diesel NOx was the direct result of studies connecting these emissions with respiratory problems.

To meet the new targets, some carmakers have introduced Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), in which a liquid-reductant agent is injected through a catalyst into the exhaust of a diesel vehicle. A chemical reaction converts the nitrogen oxide into harmless water and nitrogen, which are expelled through the exhaust pipe.

The alternative method of meeting Euro 6 standards is Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR). A portion of the exhaust gas is mixed with intake air to lower the burning temperature. The vehicle’s ECU controls the EGR in accordance with the engine load or speed.

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

Implementation date (new approvals): 1 September 2009

Implementation date (all new registrations): 1 January 2011 

The big news for Euro 5 was the introduction of particulate filters (DPFs) for diesel vehicles, along with lower limits across the board. For type approvals from September 2011 and new cars from January 2013, diesel vehicles were subject to a new limit on particulate numbers. DPFs capture 99% of all particulate matter and are fitted to every new diesel car. Cars meeting Euro 5 standards emit the equivalent of one grain of sand per kilometre driven.

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 (EC2005)

Implementation date (new approvals): 1 January 2005

Implementation date (all new registrations): 1 January 2006

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 (EC2000)

Implementation date (new approvals): 1 January 2000

Implementation date (all new registrations): 1 January 2001 

Euro 3 split the hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide limits for petrol and diesel engines, as well as adding a separate nitrogen oxide limit for diesel vehicles. The warm-up period was removed from the test procedure.

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 (EC96)

Implementation date (new approvals): 1 January 1996

Implementation date (all new registrations): 1 January 1997 

Euro 2 reduced the limits for carbon monoxide and the combined limit for unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide, as well as introducing different levels for petrol and diesel engines.

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 (EC93)

Implementation date (new approvals): 1 July 1992

Implementation date (all new registrations): 31 December 1992 

The first Europe-wide euro emissions standards were introduced in July 1992 and the regulations weren’t anywhere near as stringent as they are today.

That said, the fitment of catalytic converters became compulsory on all new cars, and Euro 1 required the switch to unleaded petrol. Back then, only hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide were tested, along with particulate matter in the case of diesel engines.

Over the years, the regulations have become stricter and the limits lowered.

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

What's next for Euro emissions standards?

While Euro standards have ensured a reduction in vehicle emissions, the so-called ‘dieselgate’ scandal highlighted that there’s still work to be done, not least because carmakers felt the need to ‘cheat’ to meet the stringent standards.

In 2017, the EU introduced a ‘Real Driving Emissions’ (RDE) test. It’s hoped this will better reflect actual emissions on the road, reducing the discrepancy between real-world emissions and those measured in a laboratory.

Euro 7 and Euro 7 diesel – when will it be introduced?

In addition to these new tests, it’s been widely believed within the motoring world that the EU is planning to introduce a new Euro 7 emissions standard in the coming years.

However, in April 2019 the European Parliament and Council adopted new regulations setting CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and vans which will start applying from 1 January 2020. 

Unlike the previous Euro emissions standards, this regulation focuses solely on carbon emissions of new cars and vans, and includes a mechanism to incentivise the uptake of zero-emission vehicles. 

It remains to be seen if, and when, the EU will implement a Euro 7 emissions standard with the same requirements as previous standards alongside this new regulation.

Will Brexit affect Euro emissions standards?

Although the UK is negotiating its exit from the European Union, the emissions standards are expected to remain unchanged to ensure a common standard across the continent. 

Does my car’s Euro standard affect my MOT?

Following the introduction of new rules in May 2018, the MOT test now includes stricter requirements surrounding emissions. 

Any car that has been fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) (a requirement for all Euro 5 and 6 diesels) that gives out "visible smoke of any colour" during testing will get a major fault – an automatic fail.

It will also fail if the MOT tester finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with. Read more on the new MOT rules.

Motorbike Euro emission standards

Motorbike Euro emissions standards

 

The Euro emissions standards for motorbikes are slightly different from cars, with fewer new standards having been introduced over the years (due to motorbikes emitting less emissions than cars and other larger vehicles do).

Currently new motorbikes are regulated at a Euro 4 standard with Euro 5 due to be introduced in January 2020.

The implementation of emission standards for motorbikes is also a little more complicated than the standards for cars.

Motorbike emission regulations for Euro 1 to 3

Emissions standardClassType approval dateFirst registration dates
Euro 1Mopeds, motorcycles and tricycles17 June 1999
Euro 2Mopeds17 June 2002
Euro 2Three-wheelers1 January 20031 July 2004
Euro 2Motorcycles1 April 20041 July 2005
Euro 3Motorcycles1 January 20061 July 2007

Motorbike emission regulations for Euro 4 and 5

StandardClassNew types of vehicles enforcement datesExisting types of vehicles enforcement datesLast date of registration enforcement dates
Euro 4Powered cycle, two-wheel moped, three-wheel moped, light on-road quad, light quadrimobile1 January 20171 January 201831 December 2020
Euro 4Two-wheel motorcycle w/ & w/o sidecar, tricycle, heavy on-road quad, commercial tricycle, heavy all terrain quad, heavy quadrimobile1 January 20161 January 201731 December 2020
Euro 5All classes1 January 20201 January 2021-

Euro emissions frequently asked questions

  • What does Euro 5 emissions mean?

    Since 1992, new cars in the EU have been categorised by the emissions they produce, starting with Euro 1 all the way up to the current category, Euro 6.

    Euro 5 emissions standard became a requirement for all new approvals from 1 September 2009 and all new registrations from 1 January 2011, and comes with certain restrictions. For example, Euro 5 petrol cars are currently able to enter the London ULEZ (as of July 2019), but Euro 5 diesels will be subject to charges.

  • What is a Euro 4 engine?

    Since 1992, new cars in the EU have been categorised by the emissions they produce, starting with Euro 1 all the way up to the current category, Euro 6.

    Euro 4 emissions standard became a requirement for all new approvals from 1 January 2005 and all new registrations from 1 January 2006, and an engine registered as Euro 4 comes with certain restrictions. For example, Euro 4 petrol cars are currently able to enter the London ULEZ (as of July 2019), but Euro 4 diesels will be subject to charges.

  • Is my car Euro 6?

    The implementation date for Euro 6 was September 2014 (new approvals) and September 2015 (most new registrations), so if your car was registered after this date it’s likely it’s Euro 6.

    However, there are some discrepancies in terms of dates around the implementation date, which could mean your car is actually Euro 5, so check with your manufacturer to be sure.

  • Will Euro 6 diesels be banned?

    Currently, this largely depends on local and city authorities. Following a ruling by European judges in December 2018, authorities are able to ban the “cleaner” Euro 6 diesel vehicles from entering their cities, including Madrid, Paris and Brussels.

    There are currently no plans to ban Euro 6 diesels from any UK towns and cities, although this may change in the future.

  • How can I reduce my emissions?

    If you’re looking to do your bit for the environment, there are a number of ways you can reduce your emissions, from changing the fuel you use to simply leaving the car at home once in a while. For more information, read our guide to cutting your emissions.

  • How long will Euro 6 last?

    There are currently no plans announced to replace Euro 6 with a more stringent Euro 7 category of emissions standards. However, in April 2019 the European Parliament and Council adopted new regulations setting CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and vans, which will start applying from 1 January 2020.

  • Will there be a Euro 7?

    That remains to be seen. It’s possible the EU will seek to introduce a new standard for all new car emissions in addition to the new regulations on CO2 emission performance standards, although there are currently no plans in place to do this.

  • Does Euro 4 have DPF?

    Diesel particle filters (DPFs) have been fitted as standard on all Euro 5 vehicles, which were introduced in 2010. However, before this, DPFs were also fitted on some Euro 4 vehicles as well, so check with your manufacturer if you’re unsure if your vehicle has one.

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