Do You Need Vignette to Drive in Italy?

You may be wondering if you need a vignette to drive in Italy. Paying the toll roads can be stressful for a lot of people, especially if you are a tourist. So, I did some research to help you with all your doubts before you get into that situation.

There is no need to have a vignette to drive in Italy. However, it is required to take a ticket in order to access the toll road. Also, there are lanes called “Telepass” reserved for those with a special wireless device.

Toll road entrance with yellow, blue and white signs
Photo by Manfred Werner | Wikimedia Commons | CC by 4.0

There is a lot more you need to know about using tollway tickets in Italy. It may seem easy, but many people struggle to buy a ticket and paying the toll.

How Do Tickets Work in Italy?

Unlike other major European countries such as Austria, Switzerland or France, you don’t need vignettes in Italy. However, you will have to buy a ticket if you want to use the highways. This is because the government uses that money to finance road maintenance. 

In most cases, you will find machines as you enter the toll roads (or Autostrade, in Italian). They are very simple to use; just press a button a take away your ticket. Then you will have to show it again at the exit of the toll. Finally, you will see the amount of money you will have to pay for your trip. Remember to stay in the right way unless you are passing.

As for Telepass toll boxes, you won’t need a ticket. The barriers will open automatically both at the entrance and at the exit. They might be more comfortable, but you shouldn’t use them in any situation. It isn’t worth the money to pay for that service if you are a tourist, you will be fine using the normal roads.

White ticket with two black horizontal stripes
Photo by Freytag Berndt | Wikimedia Commons | 3.0 Unported

Are Tickets Always Required?

Most highways in Italy are not free, and you will always need to buy a ticket. However, there are some Autostrade which you don’t need to have one. There are two systems of motorways; the open and the closed ones.

  • Closed Highway System: This is the most popular motorway system in Italy. Basically, you take a ticket to the entrance and pay it at the exit. You are always needed to have a ticket there. You will have to pay based on the kilometers traveled and the unit rate of the toll.
  • Open Highway System: Unlike the closed highways, you will have to pay a flat fee. Also, you could find some barrier-free roads where you don’t need a ticket. These are free to use for everyone. Some examples are: 
Ticket-Free Toll RoadsTangential
A33Cherasco- Bra
A50, A51, and A52Milan

A case apart is the roads with the system called “Free Flow“. These are tolls without any barrier or ticket withdrawal. Basically, there are cameras that read the license plate of the car. Then they will send the bill to the car owner. 

Where Do You Need a Ticket?

All drivers must obtain a ticket in any Autostrada, but it needs to have some characteristics. For example, its width must not be less than 3,75 meters. Also, an Autostrada must have refueling and parking services. If it doesn’t have these features, it is not a highway and you don’t need a ticket.

What Vehicles Need a Ticket?

All motor vehicles need a ticket to access highways, including cars and motorcycles. But there are some that can’t use the roads. You are never allowed to drive any vehicles or moped with a capacity of fewer than 150 cylinders.   

White car driving on highway
Photo by Charles Webb | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

How Much Does a Ticket Cost?

The price of a ticket depends a lot on the highway you are driving on. There is no fixed price; you will pay based on the kilometers you travel. Usually, you will pay more on long roads, full of obstacles or uphill. It is all about the difficulty of the trip.

On average, the price of a ticket to drive in Italy is between 10 to 25 euros/100km. If you want to calculate the cost of your itinerary, you can use the free tool on the official ViaMichelin website. Simply enter your route to get an estimated cost. 

How Can You Pay the Ticket?

You can pay a ticket your credit card, ViaCard or cash at the exit of the highway. You will usually find automatic machines or human operators at the toll station. There will be a toll sign over the booth showing if you can only pay with cash or credit cards.

If you want to pay with a credit card, put the ticket into the machine for a few seconds. Then, it will show you how much you will be charged on display. Lastly, put the credit card on the same slot you saw your ticket disappear and take it.

However, I recommend you pay only with cash (euros) to avoid problems. Sometimes the machines are broken or don’t accept foreign credit cards. Also, it is the fastest way to pay the toll; simply give them money and you are done. Avoid the yellow and blue lanes called “Telepass.”

What Happens if You Don’t Pay the Ticket?

If you fail to make the payment, you will get an invoice as proof you didn’t pay the toll. This bill will have all the data of your vehicle and the exact date of the issue. Sometimes it won’t be readable, and you will have to ask a staff member to help you. If that happens, wait until you are satisfied and don’t lose the receipt. 

If you don’t get the ticket at the toll, the operator will report all the data of the problem. Then, he will give you permission to transit and continue your road trip. When you arrive at the exit, just say that you had a permit to go without a ticket. You can also do this in case the bar remains raised.

What to do if you don’t get the ticket:

  • Push the red help button (“serve aiuto”).
  • Stay in your vehicle and do not reverse to avoid accidents. 
  • Wait until a staff member comes to help you.
  • Don’t listen to people who honk you and stay calm.

What to Do With Unpaid Tickets

According to the Italian Traffic Laws Art 176/11 bis, you have exactly 15 days to pay for it after the issue. You will not have to pay any extra costs within that period of time. If you don’t, you risk a fine from 85 to 338 euros for late payment.

To solve it, visit a Punto Blu station or a Service Center. Tell them what happened, the exact day and time, the ticket, and the number plate of your car as well. They are likely to fix your issue and not make you pay any charges at all. Often you will only pay the real toll and some administration fees. Remember to ask them a picture of the exact moment to confirm it is you.

Another option is to go to the SisalPay counters that you can find in many bars and Tabaccherie. Here you will only need to show the ticket at the cash register and pay the bill. You might need to pay 2 euros more for commissions.

Also, you could pay the ticket online or request a query of the payment. Visit the Autostrada Italia Website and enter your ticket number two times. Then,  You can use the online service after 24 hours from the date of transit. 

How Long Do You Need to Carry the Ticket?

You must store the ticket carefully, even if you already ended your trip. You will need to show it again at the exit or to solve an issue. Make sure you don’t have any strange charge before you throw it away. I recommend you to keep it for at least one or two weeks.

What Happens If You Lose the Ticket?

If you lose the ticket or you didn’t take it, the operator will give you a report of the non-payment of the toll. You will get charged based on the furthest toll station. Also, you will have to pay for what you already drove at that moment. If you want my advice, don’t lose it! 

Remember that you have exactly 15 days to pay for the ticket. After that time, you will need to pay more.

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