Navigating Europe's Urban Vehicle Access Regulations

By Lucy Sadler / Updated: 29 Jun 2017
Urban Access Regulations Signs - London

Many cities and towns struggle with balancing congestion, ‘liveability’, air and noise pollution, accessibility, and other pressures of urban life. The levels of pollution now prevalent in many cities have an adverse effect upon health. Furthermore, congested, polluted, noisy cities are attractive for neither residents and tourists nor businesses.

Urban Access Regulations (UVARs) seek to redress this by balancing the need of vehicles to access an area with a management of the different types of vehicles and trips entering there. Access regulations can include Low Emission Zones (LEZs), Congestion Charging, urban road user charging, access regulations, vehicle access restriction, different types lorry ban – or indeed any regulations for or restrictions on vehicles entering urban areas.

These local access regulation and restriction schemes can help create a healthier and more liveable environment for residents. UVARS are also a key tool for achieving the EU climate change goals of reducing conventionally fuelled vehicles and having CO2-free city logistics in major urban centres by 2030.

As with other traffic- and transport-related laws, failing to observe UVARs can cost both time and money. Yet they are a factor that road users do not always know about when planning their journeys. A Commission-funded website makes this possible.

An interactive map enables users to check for UVARs based on location, whilst a route planner lists the restrictions found in all the urban centres on any European trip. All searches can also be filtered based on vehicle or UVAR type - including LEZs, urban road tolls, and physical traffic restrictions. All the information drivers need is then given on each scheme.

Aside from this, explanations on the impact of UVARs and key European Union policy in the area are also given. Altogether, the website's database contains over 500 UVARs: each provides full details on the scheme.

The Commission-funded CLARS Platform also gives free support to cities and ministries operating, planning, considering or investigating access regulations. The CLARS public authorities Platform for provides best practice examples and relays the experiences of other cities to make schemes more successful and easier to implement. It allows members to:

  • access a wealth of Access Regulation specific information, guidance, advice, links and more on a members-only website;
  • sign up for periodic emails with news, updates and issues;
  • pose questions on Access Regulations to the secretariat and other members.

Visit for the public website and

A free CIVITAS e-learning course on UVARS can also be found here.

Urban mobility planning
Quality, audits and benchmarking
Traffic and demand management