Have you ever thought about spending holidays in Greece? Or doing some sightseeing in Finland? Tasting regional Czech beer on the spot? Or maybe you were just invited for a business trip to Berlin or Paris? Whichever of these applies to you; truth to be told – as much as United State have to offer in terms of leisure and professional matters, so have European countries. However, heading for one of these countries may occur as a challenge for these Americans who prefer to stay independent from arranged means of transportation and do the driving themselves. One of the challenges that appears as we enter an European highway is dealing with highway fees. In some countries they exist, in others – do not. And prices vary along with terms of payment.
Vignette on Europe highway
One of the most popular ways of payment is the Vignette. This small, colored toll-sticker is a form of road pricing imposed on vehicles of up to 3.5 tons – the maximum permissible gross weight – including passenger cars, motorcycles and travel trailers. Once you buy the sticker, you are expected to affix it on your vehicle – preferably on the windshield. Vignettes are largely used in Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland, while other means of road toll are imposed on drivers in several other European countries. Prices for a regular annual vignette for passenger cars range from €30 to €150, depending on a given country. They may usually be purchased at border crossings, gas stations, some other labeled points or on line using a credit card.
Once a vignette is obtained, it should be properly used as complaints on lost or damaged vignettes are usually not recognized, thus these vignettes are not likely to be refunded. In some European countries vignettes are required for all kinds of vehicles driving on all public roads. An epitome: Bulgarian law imposing this kind of road toll even on animal-powered vehicles.
Eurovignette for truck drivers
Another road pricing invention are Eurovignettes which may be particularly interesting for truck drivers. They are an equivalent for truck drivers and allow them to drive across various European countries. Basically, Eurovignettes are required for vehicles with a maximum mass exceeding 12 tonnes for using toll roads, highways and expressways in the countries covered by the Eurovignette. These are accessible on line, at gas stations or at border crossings. A different way of covering road-related taxes was established in such countries as France, Portugal, Italy. The ETC system, which stands for Electronic Toll Collection, aims at eliminating the delay on toll roads by collecting the taxes electronically as the cars pass. To benefit from the confines of undisturbed drive, one needs to register their car and set an account in the program.
The aforementioned option is a comfortable way of dealing with toll expenses for drivers planning to stay in a given country for a rather longer time; if your stay is meant to be a short trip, you can always pay with cash or your credit card (Visa, Maestro). There is also a number of countries that does not charge drivers for using highways, though sometimes designates a certain section of a highway that is charged . Highways are completely free of charge in Belgium, Lichtenstein or Finland; whereas drivers are required an extra charge for passing through certain bridges, tunnels or highway sections e.g in England (a new section extending the M6 north of Birmingham ) and Sweden.
As a matter of fact, regulations covering road toll vary with the country. In some of them the allegedly “free-of-charge” highways may turn out to be actually charged in some of their sections, or for a particular type of vehicle. As to the vignette system, in some countries it is actually cheaper to buy a long-term vignette than a short-term one. It is strongly recommended to familiarize in advance with detailed tax-toll regulations in the country of your choice regarding the fact that not abiding them usually results in high fines.