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DRIVING

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Austria’s vignette motorway toll stickers

In order to drive on Austria’s motorways, you’ll need a vignette. But what is a vignette, how do you get one - and how do you get one on the cheap?

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Austria's vignette motorway toll stickers
A police officer inspects a vignette sticker in France. Image: JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT / AFP

Since 1997, in order to drive on Austria’s motorways you’ve needed a small toll sticker known as a vignette. 

While these may seem odd to some foreigners, they are absolutely essential – and anyone not displaying one risks a fine. 

What is a vignette?

The small stickers show that you’ve paid the tolls necessary to travel on Austria’s main arteries.

The money goes to the government and is used for funding roads. 

According to ASFiNAG, the peak body for roads in Austria and the entity which collects the fees, “almost 100 percent of all income from the sale of the vignette, the truck toll (GO toll) and the route toll flow back into the construction, operation and security of the high-ranking road network in Austria”.

You need a vignette to travel on all of Austria’s expressways and motorways, although there are some exceptions that apply currently. 

These are listed below. 

Which vehicles need a vignette?

All cars, motorbikes and camper vans on Austria’s motorways and expressways need a vignette. 

Bikes, skateboards and snowboards do not. 

Where do I get one?

Vignettes are available at around 6,000 outlets across the country, so anyone who fails to get one will have few excuses. A list of outlets is available here

If you’re reading this in an Alpine cottage with only an Internet connection and no outlets nearby, don’t fret – digital vignettes are also available online.  

Unlike the sticker, digital vignettes are affixed to the licence plate. 

I have many cars. Can I buy one per year and use it for all my cars? 

No. The stickers are vehicle specific and cannot be transferred across if you buy a new car. 

However, if you buy a digital vignette and you transfer your licence plates over to a new car, then this will be valid as digital vignettes are licence plate specific. 

What happens if I don’t have one? 

Vignettes are compulsory, meaning that everyone who does not have one is liable to be fined. 

Fines start at 120 euros – which is more than the cost of a year-long vignette – meaning you might as well go out and buy one. 

Where do I put it? 

For cars, the vignette should be put in the top left corner of the windshield or in the area behind the rear view mirror. 

The vignette should always be placed inside the window. 

For motorbikes, the vignette should be placed on a visible part of the bike which is difficult or impossible to remove. Austria’s Kronen Zeitung suggests putting it on the fork leg of the front wheel.

How much do vignettes cost? 

The 2021 annual vignette stickers will be available for purchase from the end of November 2020. 

These will cost 92.50 euros per year – an increase of around 1.5 percent on the cost of last year’s stickers – and will be apple green in colour. 

For anyone looking to save a bit of cash – and who will be sticking around in Austria for a year at least – the annual price is by far the cheapest. 

By purchasing a year-long vignette, you’ll save yourself more than 20 euros. 

New tariffs 2021 for cars: ten-day vignette: 9.50 euros, 2-month vignette 27.80 euros, Annual vignette: 92.50 euros 

New tariffs 2021 for motorcycles: ten-day vignette 5.50 euros, 2-month vignette 13.90 euros, annual vignette: 36.70 euros.

What colour is it? 

The current vignette until January 31, 2021, is blue. 

The upcoming vignette – from December 1st, 2020 – is lime green. 

What are the exceptions? 

According to ASFiNAG, five stretches of road in Austria currently do not require compulsory vignettes (as at November 2020). 

The exceptions apply to the following stretches of road:

The toll road A 1 Westautobahn between the national border at Walserberg and the Salzburg Nord junction;

The toll road A 12 Inntalautobahn between the national border at Kufstein and the Kufstein-Süd junction;

The toll road A 14 Rheintal/Walgau Autobahn between the national border at Hörbranz and the Hohenems junction

The bypass bridges to be built on the toll road A7 Mühlkreis Autobahn between the Hafenstraße junction;

And the Urfahr junction (currently still under construction) and the toll road A 26 Linzer Autobahn (currently still under construction).

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DRIVING

F1 and summer holidays: Which Austrian roads will be busy this weekend?

Record-breaking crowds are expected in Spielberg this weekend for the F1 Grand Prix race. Meanwhile, summer holidays start in Austria and Germany. It's going to be a busy one on Austrian roads.

F1 and summer holidays: Which Austrian roads will be busy this weekend?

Motorists should prepare for long delays on some Austrian roads this weekend as Austria hosts the F1 Grand Prix and school summer holidays start in several Austrian and German states.

The Kurier is reporting that around 300,000 people are expected at the Spielberg Red Bull Ring in Styria for the F1 race, with 100,000 attending on Sunday alone.

As a result, all hotels and camp sites in the region are completely booked out, which means lots of visitors will be making their way to the region in the coming days.

FOR MEMBERS: 7 things to know about driving in Austria this summer

Motoring organisations ARBÖ and ÖAMTC are already warning motorists of the high possibility of traffic jams, especially when exiting the Pyhrnautobahn (A9) at the St. Michael junction.

Other expected hotspots are the Murtal expressway (S36) and Obdacher Strasse (B78).

A spokesperson for ARBÖ said: “If possible, use public transport.”

Alternative transport options include bus shuttles to the event site and a Park and Bike service at Therme Fohnsdorf where visitors can park their cars and then cycle to the Red Bull Ring.

A shuttle bus will also be in operation from Knittelfeld train station. The service will run from Friday to Sunday, every 20 minutes between 8am and 8pm, and every 30 minutes from 8pm to 11pm (or 7pm on Sunday). Rail operator ÖBB recommends booking tickets in advance.

READ MORE: When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

In Spielberg itself, motorists should prepare for delays on Triester Straße, as well as on the direct access roads to the official parking areas at the track.

According to the ÖAMTC: “Day visitors should leave as early as possible. If you arrive in Spielberg around 7.30am you have a good chance of a quiet journey.” 

Thankfully, pleasant weather with highs of 23 degrees are forecast for this weekend, which will relieve some pressure on the roads.

Summer holidays

As well as the big attraction of the F1 race, the school summer holidays are beginning in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland this week.

In Germany, the holidays start for Berlin and Brandenburg, and schools also break up in the Netherlands. 

This will bring extra traffic to roads in Austria as families set off on summer vacations – either in Austria or simply passing through the country to get to places like Italy and Croatia.

Find out more about avoiding the worst traffic on Austrian roads with The Local’s guide to the ÖAMTC’s traffic calendar.

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