Advice for driving in Italy
3 March 2024
Tips, Checklist & Legal Requirements
If you are stopped by the Police you can be charged an on the spot fine. Fines are particularly heavy for speeding offences. The police can impose the fine and can collect 25% of the maximum fine on the spot. They must give you a receipt for the balance amount to be paid. Fines for serious offences committed at night between 2200 and 0700 hours are increased by one third and also for serious offences include speeding, going through a red etc. Illegally parked vehicles can be clamped or towed away and a fine imposed.
Credit cards are accepted at most petrol stations only, but check before you fill up the car as it may be embarrasing if you dont have the cash to hand.
What do I need to drive in Italy?
The minimum age at which a UK driving licence holder may drive a car or motorbike in Italy is 18. All valid UK driving licences should be accepted in Italy.
- · Valid driving licence
- · Proof of identification (passport)
- · Insurance documents
- · Proof of ownership (registration certificate)
If you do not own the vehicle you are driving, you are advised to obtain written permission from the registered owner.
In 2011 there were 3,860 road deaths in Italy. This equates to 6.4 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares poorly to the UK average of 3.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2011.
It is compulsory for passengers in cars to wear seatbelts in the front and rear of vehicles. Children under 4 years of age may only travel in a vehicle on the rear and if using a suitable safety chair. Children under 1.5m and over 3 years of age must use a suitable safety chair to be seated in the front of the vehicle.
Any vehicle with an overhanging load (e.g. carrying bicycle at rear) must display a fully reflectorised square panel 50cm x 50cm which is red and white diagonally striped, a fine may be imposed if the sign is not displayed. This also applies to vehicles such as cars/caravans carrying bicycles at the rear.
Equipment required by drivers:
It is compulsory in Italy to carry the following safety equipment within any vehicle with more than 2 wheels:
- · A Warning triangle
- · Reflective Jacket
- · Headlamps converters
- · Spare bulb kit is recommended
Standard speed limits (km/h) unless otherwise stated by traffic signs:
Urban roads (31 mph).
Non-urban roads (56 mph).
Motorways / expressways (80 mph).
Urban roads (31 mph).
Non-urban roads (43 mph).
Motorways / expressways (50 mph).
The transportation or use of radar detectors is prohibited. Violation of this regulation will result in a fine between 750 to 3,000 Euros and confiscation of the device.
Italy has strict drink driving laws and they have even stricter controls now to detect drivers affected by alcohol or other drugs. The legal limit is 0.05%. They are very serious about drink driving and driving under the influence of drugs, having strict penalties such as heavy fines, loss of licence and imprisonment.
Motorbikes must use dipped headlights at all times and the wearing of crash helmets is compulsory for both driver and passenger. The motorbike can be seized for non-compliance.
Using a mobile phone while driving is not allowed but the use of 'hands free' equipment is.
Use of dipped headlights is compulsory at all times outside built-up areas during snow and rain storms and at all times on motorways. At night the use of full beam, in built up areas, is prohibited. Rear fog lights may only be used when visibility is less than 50 metres or in case of strong rain or intense snow. Lights must be switched on in tunnels.
Driving in Winter
We recommend to carry snow chains when driving through Italy. There is no general legal requirement fot its use or the use of winter tyres, but be advised that some regions introduce their own rules during Winter. In some areas, like the Val d'Aosta, between October 15th and April 15th snow chains or winter tyres can be mandatory depending on weather conditions.
General Driving Advice
In terms of Italy driving habits the following are worth noting:
- · Tolls are levied on the majority of motorways.
- · In built up areas the use of the horn is prohibited except in cases of immediate danger.
- · It's compulsory for all occupants to wear seatbelts if possible.
- · On the spot fines can be imposed and you can be asked to pay up to 25% to the police.
- · Some motorways have speed limits up to 150 km/h (93mph), so please take this into consideration when overtaking (please remember always on the left).
So to recap here is our checklist for driving in Italy:
- Ensure you have proper documentation: valid driving licence, ID, driving insurance covering driving in Italy, proof of ownership (registration certification).
- Take plenty of breaks when driving long distances.
- Ensure all passengers are wearing seat belts and remember children 12 and under are not allowed to travel in the front seat unles using a suitable safety chair. Children below 4 yrs are also required to be seated on the rear and using a suitable safety chair.
- Ensure your car is equipped with the following safety equipment: A Warning triangle, Reflective Jacket, Headlamp converters and snow chains. Especially if travelling to snowier parts of Italy.
- Check fuel compatibility as some fuels may not be compatible with your vehicle.
- Do not drink and drive.
- Observe local speed limits – as a general rule built up areas have limits of 50km/h (31 mph), outside built up areas are 90km/h (56mph). In car radar detectors are illegal.
- Dipped headlights are recommended even in daytime conditions.
Driving through Italy to another destination? You might like to read our guides to:
Need breakdown cover for Italy? Eurobreakdown.com can provide you with comprehensive single trip breakdown cover or annual multi trip breakdown policies with a best price guarantee.
Reference: The statistics mentioned on this page were sourced from the International Transport Forum’s Road Safety Annual Report 2013 and, to the best of Eurobreakdown.com’s knowledge, are correct at the time of publication (May 2014).
For general European driving tips click here