If you are planning to visit a town in Italy by car, we recommend that you pay attention to the “zona traffico limitato" (ZTL) or Limited Traffic Zones in order to avoid bad surprises.
An overview on what designates the ZTL and the risks that you incur when you enter one of these zones.
The ZTLs are zones of restricted circulation, situated in Italian cities that have historic centres. Only the local residents and registered vehicles are authorised to drive there.
These zones are therefore prohibited to outside vehicles during certain hours that would not have the right of paid access. If you drive there when you are not authorised, you expose yourself to a fine.
Each entrance into a ZTL is demarcated by a sign and is monitored by video surveillance. But be vigilant. The signs marking these zones are not always visible (they can be installed up high, close to surveillance cameras). They are generally not very explicit (only in Italian language) concerning vehicles allowed and the hours reserved for circulation.
If you are staying in a hotel located in a Limited Traffic Zone, ask the hotel to register your number plate for the length of your stay.
Important: Do not drive into a ZTL if you do not have an authorisation.
Attention: The authorisation to drive in the ZTL from your hotel does not mean you can drive in any ZTL in the city.
All unauthorised vehicles, entering or leaving the ZTL, are considered to be committing an infraction. In this way, each entry and exit are counted and will be subject to one or many tickets, which can be very expensive. Depending on the city, the fine is around € 100 for each passage.
You will directly receive the fine at your place of residence. This also applies to infractions made in a rental car.
Even if you do not purposefully enter one of these zones, you will be issued a ticket!
Our advice: To avoid all risk of being fined, leave your vehicle outside of the city centre. Continue your journey by foot or use public transportation.
If you have driven in a ZTL in Italy without authorisation, you will have to wait multiple weeks, or even months, to receive the ticket at your home.
In most cases, you receive a letter from a debt collection agency mandated by the Italian police, within a period of 360 days. In order to respect this waiting period, the notification letter only has to be sent during this period, whatever the date of reception may be.
Generally, you will be able to see the fine, the photo of the infraction, and to contest the fine directly online via the site mentioned in the letter.
Good to know
- If you decide to appeal with the Prefect, you do not have to present yourself at a hearing. If the appeal is not successful, the price of the fine will be doubled automatically. You will only be informed if the Prefect rejects your protest.
- If you do not wish to place yourself before the Prefect, we advise you remove the following sentence from the form “(Opzionale) Ai fini di un’ulteriore illustrazione dei motivi del ricorso, chiede inoltre di essere personalmente convocato, attraverso avviso all’indirizzo di cui sopra “.
- If you decide to make an appeal with the magistrate, you will have to present yourself to at a hearing and potentially be represented by an Italian lawyer. The judge can decide whether or not to double the price of the fine if the protest does not succeed in your favour.
In the event of non-payment, it is possible in theory to be pursued in Germany by Italian authorities or a representative in Germany.
We draw your attention to the fact that non-payment can lead to an increase of the fines and a risk in the event of control by the police authorities if you return to Italy.
For more information on this type of fine, you can take council with the Bundesamt für Justiz.
Generally, car rental companies do not pay the fines that you have received after entering a ZTL when unauthorised. They share your personal information with the police so they can send the ticket directly to your house.
If you live in Germany, the notification period is 360 days, starting from the moment where the car rental company shares your information with the Italian police. So, do not be surprised if you receive the ticket more than 360 days after.
In the event of contestation, ask for a copy of the personal information shared with the police.
More about booking a rental car.
Processing fee of car rental companies inadmissible
Car rental companies usually charge processing fees (up to 50 euros per fine).
In doing so, the vehicle rental companies invoke a corresponding clause in the rental contract.
According to a decision of the Italian competition authority AGCM from 2022, such clauses as well as a handling fee are inadmissible.
If the rental company has already charged you a handling fee, you can try to have the money charged back (so-called chargeback).
If you drive an e-car, you have free travel in many ZTL zones. In some cities, this also applies to hybrid cars.
BUT CAUTION: A foreign license plate for electric cars is not enough. You must first register your electric car by sending your registration number or a copy of the vehicle registration document to the responsible office in the city or municipality. Some hotels do this for their guests.
If you forget to register your e-car and receive a fine, you may be able to successfully appeal.
Depending on how the respective municipality has regulated its ZTL, the exemption for e-cars may also be taken into account retrospectively and the fine may be withdrawn.
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