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Europe Low Emmission Zones

EUROPE - Low emission zones

Air quality in urban areas is an important issue and more than 200 cities in 10 countries across Europe are now operating Low Emission Zones where the most polluting vehicles are either banned or charged an access fee. If you're planning a road trip you’ll want to know where these LEZ are, what types of vehicle they affect, what emissions standards are required, and whether registration is required or not.

Most of the LEZ only affect vans and lorries but some, like those in France, Germany and Italy, affect cars too.

Low Emission Zones, also known as environment zones have many different names:

  • Umweltzonen (Germany)
  • Milieuzones (Netherlands)
  • Lavutslippssone (Norway)
  • Miljozone (Denmark)
  • Miljözon (Sweden)

For the very latest on low emission zones, in English and for every European country, visit Urban Access Regulations in Europe.

Other driving restrictions

As well as LEZ areas, there are other access restrictions in European towns and cities.
Pollution isn't the only issue caused by heavy traffic – other restrictions are in place to control noise or protect historic buildings.

FRANCE - Order your CRIT'Air clean air sticker early if you expect to be driving in Paris (This is not a toll - See below for toll info)

Paris, Lyon and Grenoble have recently been added to the growing number of low emissions zones.

If you plan to drive within the restricted area in one of these cities you'll have to display a Vignette (sticker) in your windscreen.

Without the sticker you could be fined but we're hearing reports that the French authorities are struggling to cope with demand for Vignettes resulting in significant delay beyond the estimated 30-day delivery time.

Crit air

France Tolls

The cost of motorway travel for a passenger car is about 1 €uro for 10 miles.

Many toll-gates are for both credit-card payment and Telepéage... meaning that if you have a télépége transpondre, you may still get held up behind people paying by card, if there is a queue.  Cash payment toll-gates (green arrow or pictogram of coins) will provide change – even the automatic ones.

Sanef France has extended the Liber-t automated French tolls payment service to UK motorists through Sanef Tolling. Sanef Tollings telepeage tags enable UK motorists to use the automatic telepeage/tag lanes, which have previously been reserved for French residents.
Have your Liber-t Box sent conveniently to you at an address in Europe so waiting for you on arrival.

Pre Purchase here:


Germany Emission Zones

There are no Tolls in Germany for Passenger vehicles. But there are Emission Zones.

Some German cities operate environmental zones in which access to some vehicles is restricted. If you intend driving in one of these restricted areas, you will have to display a ‘Plakette’ (sticker) in your windscreen and will be fined €80 for not doing so. Restricted areas are indicated by signs “Umweltzone” showing coloured vignettes ("Plakette") - green, yellow and red. You can get a ‘Plakette’ from technical inspection centres or approved garages in Germany and the colour of the ‘Plakette’ issued will depend on the type of engine and the Euro classification of the vehicle. You will have to present the vehicle registration certificate and pay a fee of 5 to 10 Euros. The fee is a one-off charge and the ‘Plakette’ remains valid in any German City as long as it remains fixed in the vehicle. You cannot transfer it to another vehicle. You can obtain a vignette before you travel We recommend that allow plenty of time. 

DE Euro 4 Low Emission Zone Road Sign

The fee is a ‘one-off’ charge and remains valid as long as it remains valid in any German City as long as it remains fixed in the vehicle i.e. not transferred to another vehicle.

Have your Vignette sent conveniently to you at an address in Europe so waiting for you on arrival

Pre Purchase here:

Italy & San Marino Tolls & Restricted Traffic Zones

Traffic is restricted in many historical centres/major towns in Italy known as 'Zone a Traffico Limitato' or ZTL's. Circulation in these areas is either fully prohibited, only permitted for residents or there are time restrictions that apply. Entering such areas whether using your own car or a hire car will almost certainly result in you receiving a fine by post, sometimes many months later.

Tolls in Italy with Telepass & VIAcard

The Italian toll system is complicated and for tourists it takes getting used to. Not only that, but different motorway operating companies are in charge of individual route sections.

The toll amount mostly depends on the route length and is usually determined by means of a ticket issued at the motorway access, or a flat rate is charged on some motorway sections. Payment can be in cash, at some places with credit card or everywhere with the VIAcard and Telepass. Because - except for Sicily* - only the VIAcard and Telepass are accepted all over Italy and are recommended to avoid queuing at cash payment booths.
Automated toll payment with a Telepass used to be only possible for users with an Italian bank account. But now tolltickets and its service partners provide the Telepass with VIAcard to all European users outside Italy - without the need for an Italian bank account!

No stopping with Telepass
You can manage the Telepass** easily and above all quickly, as a small electronic receiver which is attached to the windscreen. This box enables you to use the specifically designated Telepass lanes at Italian toll stations, thereby enabling you to continue without having to stop. The Telepass registers every transit passage and automatically transmits the corresponding data to tolltickets for charging purposes

Have your Telepass sent conveniently to you at an address in Europe so waiting for you on arrival.

Pre Purchase here:

Switzerland VIGNETTE

Driving on motorways requires a VIGNETTE (toll sticker) 
If you rent a car in Switzerland (as opposed to in France etc) it WILL have a vignette. If you don't drive on what we would call limited access highways or interstates, there are no tolls. The 40 franc vignette replaces all tolls including any tolls for tunnels, etc. The vignette is available at the border or at service areas just before the border (it's something like 26 or 29 Euros or 40 francs). Don't get caught on a toll road without one as the fine will be pretty steep.

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Driving on motorways requires a VIGNETTE (toll sticker)
A vignette can be purchased at most petrol stations and at border entry points. A 10-day Vignette costs € 8.70, a 2-month Vignette costs € 25.30. The Vignette must be stuck to the inside of your car's windscreen and permits travel on all motorways within Austria. This is strictly enforced by motoway patrols and failure to comply will result in on the spot fines. (Most hire cars will come with a vignette supplied.) Vignettes are compulsory on all motorways and expressways in Austria, except road sections with tolls depending on mileage:*

  • A9 - Pyhrn Motorway: Bosruck Tunnel
  • A9 - Pyhrn Motorway: Gleinalm Tunnel
  • A10 - Tauern Motorway: Tauern and Katschberg Tunnels
  • A11 - Karawanken Motorway: Karawanken Tunnel
  • A13 - Brenner Motorway: Entire route
  • A13 - Brenner Motorway: Exit Stubai
  • S16 - Arlberg Motorway: Arlberg Road Tunnel

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Netherlands Tunnel Tolls

There are no toll roads in Holland. However, a small fee is payable on 2 tunnels.
Dordse Kil in the Biesbosch region you have to pay a small € 2.00 fee, and the Westerschelde Tunnel you have to pay a small € 5.00 fee.

Spain Tolls

Tolls in Spain with VIA-T

Many motorways in Spain are subject to a toll charge. At the toll stations, you are able to choose between a manual or an automatic toll payment.

Manual payment:

At most of the entry stations, you must take receipt of a ticket by pressing the knob on the automatic machine. Alternatively, there are motorway sections for which a fixed charge has to be paid independently of the distance which has been driven.

When leaving the motorway, or at the pay-points, you must use a personally specified lane in the event of a cash payment. Present the toll ticket to the personnel and settle the requested amount. If you want to pay with a credit card or fuel card, then use the specially designated lane for card payments. Insert the ticket into the machine first of all and subsequently the credit card for settlement of the toll amount due.

Automatic toll collection:

Lanes signposted with "Telepeaje", "VIA-T" or just "T" are reserved for vehicles carrying a small device - the VIA-T Box - for automated toll payment. With the VIA-T Box you can pass toll stations without stopping. Motorway access and exit are registered automatically. Tolls are settled conveniently using your selected means of payment.
The main advantage of the VIA-T box lies in the fact that you are able to use the reserved lanes without having to wait in the tailback in lanes for manual payments

Using the VIA-T box:

At each toll station in Spain, there are lanes for the automatic toll settlement with a VIA-T Box. In order to select the correct lane, attention should be paid to the following signs.

All lanes at toll stations which are designated with a blue circle and a white "T" are exclusively reserved for users with a VIA-T Box. No other means of payment will be accepted in the aforesaid lanes and you are able to drive through the toll station without having to stop.

All lanes at a toll station which are designated with a blue rectangle and a white "T" also accept other means of payment in addition to the VIA-T box, such as credit cards or cash payments for example. Tail-backs may occur in these lanes on account of manual payments by users without a VIA-T Box.
Have your VIA-T Pass sent conveniently to you at an address in Europe so waiting for you on arrival.

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United Kingdom Tolls & Congestion Zone

Currently there is a single major road, the M6 Toll and a small number of bridges and tunnels where tolls are collected.

London Congestion Zone

The Congestion Charge applies to most vehicles entering Central London. Make sure you know how it might affect your visit.
The Congestion Charge comes into effect on weekdays between certain times of the day and in various locations within Central London. You must pay the Congestion Charge to avoid receiving a fine of £130, but some drivers and vehicles are exempt or qualify for discounts.

Monday - Friday07.00 – 18.00£11.50*

* If you pay in advance or by midnight on the day of travel.

There is no charge on weekends, public holidays, between Christmas Day and New Year's Day inclusive, or between 18:00 and 07:00 on weekdays.

Scheme started: 17 February 2003

Zone operates: 7am to 6:00pm weekdays excluding bank and public holidays

Pay by phone: 0343 222 2222

Pay online:

Area covered: Congestion Charging Interactive Maps


Durham - Charging Scheme:

Dates & Times:         10:00 to 16:00, Monday to Saturday. No charge on public holidays.
Vehicles affected:    all vehicles
Costs:                          £2.00 per day

Durham sign busDurham signDurham photo