Fines from abroad: do I have to pay?

When you receive a traffic fine from a foreign country, it is important to know what to do. The first thing to do is to check the information on the fine: date and time, vehicle details and place of the offence. If everything is correct, we will check what fine we are fined and the deadlines for paying or appealing the fine.

The applicable regulations are those of the country in which the offence was committed (amount of the fine, payment conditions and procedure). Most European countries have a points-based driving licence. Offences committed abroad do not affect the points balance on your driving licence.

If the offence was committed with a rental car, the rental company is obliged to provide the renter’s details. The rental contracts stipulate a fee for identifying the driver in case of a fine. If we commit an offence with a rental car, we have to pay the fee to the rental company and the fine to the traffic authorities. Fines cannot be paid through the rental company.

It is important to know which traffic offences committed in another country can be reported at home. EU Directive 2015/413, which regulates the exchange of information on traffic offences in the field of road safety, sets out which offences can be reported between different EU countries:

  • Speeding.
  • Failure to wear seat belts.
  • Failure to stop at a red light.
  • Drink-driving.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs.
  • Not wearing a protective helmet.
  • Driving in a forbidden lane.
  • Using a mobile phone or any other communication device while driving.

EU Directive 2019/520 also facilitates the cross-border exchange of information on non-payment of tolls on EU roads. Drivers who fail to pay a toll in another EU country will receive a corresponding fine notification at their home address. This is particularly important to bear in mind if you are travelling to Italy or Portugal, as these countries have barrier-free toll systems.

These rules could be updated to add new offences in the future. One of the EU’s objectives is to integrate traffic control and fine management systems to prosecute offenders regardless of their country of residence. Paying a fine received from abroad is compulsory, as is paying a fine from our country.

Under these rules, Member States exchange data on vehicles and vehicle owners for the purpose of processing fines. The notification of fines will be sent in the official language of the state where the vehicle is registered. So if you are travelling with your vehicle, you will receive the fine in your own language. On the other hand, if you rent a car in Spain and commit an infringement, you will receive a notification in Spanish.

There are also agreements between EU countries and third countries. An example is the bilateral agreement between France and Switzerland to prosecute traffic offences.

Traffic offences in France

Many drivers from other countries drive on French roads every year. Exceeding the speed limit or using a mobile phone while driving carries heavy penalties. ANTAI is the body that issues traffic fines in France. The letter details how to pay the fine. The deadline for paying a French fine with a reduction is longer if you pay online. More information on fines in France.

Traffic offences in Spain

The body responsible for road safety in Spain is the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT). Most Spanish fines received by foreign drivers are for speeding. Spanish roads are equipped with numerous radars to check that speed limits are respected. Barcelona is the Spanish province with the most speed cameras. More information on traffic fines in Spain.

Traffic offences committed in Italy

The Italian Traffic Police issue speeding fines and fines for not paying a toll. Before travelling to Italy, it is important to know how the tolls work, as some of them do not have toll booths. In Italian cities, fines are imposed by the local police. The most common fines are for entering a ZTL outside the authorised hours and for parking off-street. More information on fines in Italy.

Traffic offences committed in Portugal

The toll system in Portugal, without toll booths, can be confusing for foreign drivers. It is important to know how it works in order to avoid fines. In recent years, speed cameras have also been installed on some stretches of road with a high number of accidents, so you should drive carefully to avoid getting a Portuguese speed camera fine. More information on fines in Portugal.

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