Vehicle environmental and toll vignettes: the situation in Europe.
When planning a trip through Europe, it’s important to know which environmental and toll vignettes (stickers) you need. If you don’t have the right vignette, or if your current one has expired, you will be fined. So be sure to purchase the necessary vignettes in advance and check their validity period. Consider using a toll box or toll badge to make paying toll fees easier, leaving you free to enjoy your trip without having to worry about vignettes and tolls. Check carefully before each departure to see whether the rules have changed. We have listed a few notable ones below.
What are environmental and toll vignettes?
An environmental vignette, also known as an environmental sticker or environmental zone sticker, shows a vehicle’s level of adherence to environmental standards. The aim of the environmental vignette is to promote clean air, reducing air pollution in busy urban areas. Various colour codes or classifications, depending on the vehicle’s emission standards, allow authorities to regulate access to certain environmental zones.
A toll vignette, also known as a road vignette, is required to use toll roads in certain countries. The toll vignette shows that you have paid to use these roads, thereby helping to finance maintenance, improvements and new infrastructure projects. In many countries, you must have a valid toll vignette before entering a toll road. The vignette often takes the form of a sticker that must be placed on your vehicle’s windscreen. The period of validity varies depending on the country and the type of vignette.
It is mandatory to display environmental vignettes in the following European countries
In Germany, environmental stickers, known as ‘Umweltplakette’, are required in several cities, including Berlin, Cologne and Munich. You can order these stickers online or purchase them directly from specific points of sale, such as local garages, vehicle service stations and tourist information centres. While this can vary, they are usually valid for several years. In 2023, the price of an environmental vignette sticker is €22.50.
In France, the Crit'Air vignette is mandatory in several major cities, including Paris, Lyon and Grenoble. The vignette can be ordered online from the official website. The period of validity varies between 1 and 5 years, depending on the type of vehicle. In 2023, the price of an environmental vignette sticker is €4.61. If you have not acquired the vignette prior to departure, check the second email, received one day after submitting your request. This email shows your digital account, including an image of your sticker. Print out this document and place it behind your windscreen. This allows the sticker to be scanned by French police and means you will avoid receiving a fine!
Travelling by car to London or elsewhere in the United Kingdom? Avoid fines by registering your car in advance and checking whether it meets local emission standards. You can easily do this by entering your vehicle registration via the Transport for London website under Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ). In major cities such as London, parts of the city are designated as Low Emission Zones (LEZ) or Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ). Vehicles that do not meet the required emissions standards, and who have not registered via ULEZ, may not enter these zones.
Toll vignettes are mandatory in the following European countries
In Switzerland, a toll vignette sticker – known as the ‘Vignette Schweiz’ – is obligatory for the use of motorways. You can purchase the vignette directly at customs, petrol stations, post offices or online. The vignette is valid for a period of one year, from 1 December of the previous year to 31 January of the following year. In 2023, the price of an environmental vignette sticker stands at €40.55.
The Austrian ‘Autobahnvignette’ is available in different variants. You can purchase a vignette that is valid for 10 days (€9.90), 2 months (€29) or 1 year (€96.40). The vignette gives you access to the entire Austrian road network, and is available to purchase directly at customs, petrol stations in neighbouring countries or online.
In Slovenia, toll vignettes are mandatory for the use of motorways and some regional roads. The vignettes are available at petrol stations, post offices, toll stations and online. The period of validity varies from 7 days (€15) or 2 months (€30) to 1 year (€110), depending on the type of vignette you purchase.
Toll badges and toll boxes
As well as vignettes, you can also purchase toll boxes or toll badges, which allow you to pay road tolls automatically. You can sail through all the payment points without having to fish out your payment card. After your trip, all the costs will be paid in one go using the payment method of your choice. You can purchase a joint badge for France, Spain, Italy and Portugal using this link. The toll badge is linked to your licence plate. You can only purchase a toll badge if your vehicle is no taller than 3 metres and weighs less than 3500 kg. Having a toll box or toll badge can make your trips more efficient, as it allows you to pay tolls faster and avoid the queues at toll barriers.
Top tip: Check carefully before each departure to see whether the rules have changed. Have a safe and pleasant journey!