Europe's "motorways" are the fast roads with speed limits hovering around 80 mph (130 kph). Many of these roads are paid for and maintained through tolls extracted as you drive. Every so often in Italy or France, you'll stop and either get a ticket to commence your journey on the autostrada or autoroute, or you'll pay the tolls accumulated in riding on it. In Germany, the autobahn continues to be free of tolls after a German bill proposing a flat-rate toll for all roads and motorways was rejected.
If you'll be traveling on motorways in Austria and Switzerland you'll require a "Vignette" or sticker you affix to your windshield in the appropriate place so that authorities can easily view if you have paid the necessary tolls.
What Is a Vignette?
These stickers record that you have paid the road tax that allows you to ride on the motorways. In Austria, tourists can buy a vignette good for 10 days up to a full year. The vignette prices begin at 9.40 euros for a 10-day sticker and range up to 89.20 euros for a full year. Motorcycles also require vignettes.
The sticker is designed so that you cannot remove and reattach it. You must purchase a sticker and affix it to the spot designated on the back of the vignette, either on the upper left of the windshield or in the center below the attachment point of the rear-view mirror on the inside of the windshield. If the top of the windshield is tinted to prevent the entrance of sunlight, the vignette must be attached below the tinted area so it can be seen clearly.
There is also a digital vignette. Just visit the ASFiNAG online store to purchase a 10-day, two-month, or one-year vignette. After selecting the desired length of time, enter the vehicle's registration information and your payment information. One vignette can be used on up to three cars and there is an option to sign up for an annual subscription. If opting for a digital vignette you will have to wait 18 days before it's active. That wait allows drivers plenty of time to cancel the purchase if necessary.
Where Do I Buy a Vignette in Austria?
You can purchase a Vignette in border countries at gas stations, tobacco stores ("Tabak trafik"), and motorway rest stops before reaching Austria. You can purchase one at border crossings if there is a border station, but the safe thing to do if you are outside Austria is to purchase your vignette well before you reach it—at least 10km from the border. You see, there are traps set up so that when you get on the ramp and can't turn around, you've gone too far and won't be permitted to purchase a vignette and will be subject to the fine. The fine called a "special tax" is currently 400 to 450 euros. It is payable on the spot, otherwise, special proceedings ensue and the fine increases.
Be sure you get a vignette before entering Austria via the autobahn.
Additional Tolls in Austria
There are other roads and passes in Austria that require the payment of a toll at a toll booth. Many of these are through tunnels, so you'll be stopped before the tunnel to pay the toll.
- 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