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Driving in Austria: The most common 'excuses' people give for not having a vignette

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Driving in Austria: The most common 'excuses' people give for not having a vignette
(Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)

Austria has some excellent roads and highways, but they come at a cost: you need to pay the toll by purchasing a vignette. Here's a look at why you shouldn't skip it (and the excuses drivers give to try and get away with not having one).

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Why do I need a vignette?

Since 1997, drivers have needed a small toll sticker known as a vignette to drive on Austria's motorways. 

The small stickers show 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. 

The small stickers may seem strange for foreigners, especially if they are coming from a country where toll booths are more common - it might even seem that driving through an Austrian Autobahn is free, which is what many people caught without the stickers claim.

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How many people skip the vignette - and what are the penalties?

According to a survey by the German automobile club ADAC, in 2022, around 264,200 drivers were caught without a vignette in Austria - 80,100 offences more than in the previous year.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Austria's vignette motorway toll stickers

Of the 264,200 vehicles, around 32 percent, or approximately 82,400, came from Germany. In 2021, the figure was 27 percent.

The penalties are steep, with a "replacement toll" of €120 for multi-lane vehicles and €65 for single-lane vehicles. If the substitute toll is not paid on the spot, a report is filed with the competent district administrative authority, and fines can reach up to €3,000.

This is why many people try to "talk their way out" of fines. Besides creative excuses such as "my dog ate the sticker" and "children destroyed the sticker while playing", here are the top 10 excuses toll evaders give, according to the motorists club ADAC:

  • I did not know about the vignette obligation in Austria;
  • I did not know where to buy a vignette;
  • The navigation system directed me onto the autobahn;
  • It is inconvenient to remove a 10-day vignette from the windshield;
  • I have to hurry to the hospital;
  • I haven't found a distribution point;
  • I didn't see the vignette signs;
  • This is not my car;
  • I paid for the special toll route.

While these might be good excuses, they will not get you out of trouble, so definitely purchase a vignette if you plan on driving on Austrian roads. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Do I need an international permit to drive in Austria?

The price for the passenger car annual vignette this year (2023) is €96.40 for two months, €29, and the ten-day sticker costs €9.90. Motorcyclists must pay €38.20 for the annual vignette, €14.50 for the two-month vignette and €5.80 for the 10-day vignette. Those who travel to Austria more frequently usually buy a yearly vignette.

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Where do I get one?

Vignettes are available at around 6,000 outlets across Austria, 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.

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