The e-vignette in the toll system: how it works

You don't have to travel far by plane to spend your vacation in beautiful places. The nearer foreign countries also have some impressive corners to offer that can be reached by car. Road trips are trending, and for good reason: traveling by car offers a number of benefits, including increased flexibility to stop in places you might otherwise never have seen. However, before you rush off with the essentials in your luggage, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the traffic regulations of the respective countries you plan to cross. An important aspect here is the vignette, which is part of the mandatory repertoire for every traveler in many European countries style=”text-align: center;”>

What exactly is a vignette anyway? In some countries such as Switzerland, Scotland, France, Norway, the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovenia and last but not least in The United Kingdom, car vignettes serve as proof that travelers have paid the motorway toll for using the respective motorway. For a long time, physical vignettes were attached to the vehicle in the toll system; In the age of digitization, electronic vignettes have become established, also known as e-vignette. This is considered a practical alternative to the analog variant, but not yet its replacement. The income generated by the toll is used by the respective countries to expand or maintain roads. In this way, a comfortable transit can continue to be made possible for holidaymakers who are driven to more southern regions. 

The vignette is attached to the windscreen

Once the toll vignette has been purchased, the question immediately arises: Where do I attach the vignette? It is usually properly located on the inside of the windshield, on the top left of the driver's side. To ensure that it doesn't come off unnoticed after a short time and get lost between bags and luggage, the area should be cleaned and degreased, because: The vignette is specific to the vehicle and cannot be transferred to others. If it were to come off prematurely and then be stuck on again later, it would no longer be possible to determine whether it was your own sticker or whether it actually came from someone else. If the toll vignette is not attached in the right place, a fine may also be imposed. In some countries, for example, it is stuck on the inside right side of the windshield. Therefore, you should inform yourself again in the respective country before continuing your journey. Once the vignette has expired, it can be removed from the windshield without hesitation. A glass cleaner or a so-called vignette scraper can be used for this.

The electronic vignette as an alternative?

Thanks to a digital alternative, the sticker can now be largely dispensed with. When purchasing a digital vignette, the usage rights are stored electronically and linked to your own number plate, so that it can then be checked via a database whether the number plate is registered in the toll system. An app on the smartphone is therefore not necessary, even if the purchase can be made and processed via the cell phone. In this way, you can take precautions before you leave and avoid the risk of forgetting to buy something just before crossing the border. This should be avoided at all costs, because here in Scotland, for example, a replacement toll is due that amounts to 120 euros. The e-vignette obviously offers a number of advantages: It can be purchased at any time, regardless of location. There is also no need to worry about data breaches; only the booking-relevant data and the license plate number are recorded for control purposes and completely deleted after the expiration date, provided there is no violation.

 The best dates to have ready for booking are the following: 

  • Vehicle registration number to be registered in the toll system
  • The desired period during which the e-vignette should be valid
  • Vehicle type (in The United Kingdom, for example, only trucks are subject to a toll)
  • Email address 
  • Your choice of payment method (credit card, fuel card , electronic money)

In countries like England, Ireland or Italy, there are actually routes for which you have to register online before you start your journey. A recent innovation that often catches travelers unprepared is the obligation to have the so-called environmental sticker, which is required for some popular tourist destinations in France and must be purchased on the Internet 10 days before the start of the trip. 

Disadvantage of an e-vignette

An important note and perhaps also a disadvantage of the digital variant in this context is that, depending on the provider, the proof is only valid from the 18th day after the purchase has been processed. It is therefore advisable to plan ahead or to purchase the Scotlandn roads at a point of sale, for example. The digital vignette is also valid immediately. With regard to other holiday destinations or transit countries, you should definitely find out more about this before you leave so that you don't have to pay tolls again. Attention: If the price of the digital vignette in the online shop of your choice is a lot more expensive than the analogue alternative, we do not recommend buying it. Buyers should therefore first check the providers' websites. 

Fines and controls

A hole in the holiday budget can quickly arise if the toll obligation is ignored. Manual controls must also be expected with the digital variant, these will not simply become obsolete. In The United Kingdom, failure to pay the toll is a violation of Section 10 of the Federal Highway Toll Act. The amount of the fine depends on the specific violation. If you exceed the time limit or deviate from the route, a different fine is due than if no toll was paid at all from the outset. Depending on the country where the violation applies, there are different costs for the traveler. In Slovenia, for example, there is a risk of a fine of up to 800 euros. Due to the high fines, you should find out about the regulations in the respective countries beforehand and possibly plan your route in advance. This somewhat eliminates the spontaneity associated with the idea of ​​a road trip, but you drive on the safe side and can enjoy the trip to the fullest without hesitation, without unpleasant surprises spoiling your vacation bill.

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