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Driving Regulations Italy

A word of warning to our friends used to driving on the left hand side of the road:

aro You will find some service stations and restaurants located on the left hand side of the road or highway. Be especially careful when setting off from them, and make sure you are driving on the right. You should also take care when taking a turn to ensure you are in the correct lane.
aro Overtaking is always on the left. You should also take extra care when you overtake, at least in the first few days of your visit until you get the hang of driving on the right.

When overtaking, allow more space in front so you can better determine road and traffic conditions

WARNING: With regard to driving regulations, Italy and Italian police may seem a bit lenient. I strongly suggest you don't take the bait. Fines can be hefty, and must be paid on the spot! More about that below.

Click here for Italian trip planning information

Speed limits:


130 km/h (when wet- 110 km/h)

From 1 January 2003 some three-lane motorways with emergency lanes may have a speed limit of 150 km/h

Dual carriageway:

110 km/h (when wet - 90 km/h)

Open road:

90 km/h (when wet- 80 km/h)


50 km/h (when wet - 50 km/h)


General driving regulations - Italy



Traveling with children:

Children under four are not allowed to travel in the vehicle unless a suitable restraining system is installed and used. Children between the ages of 4 and 12 cannot travel in the front seat unless a suitable restraining system is installed and in use.


Non-European licenses and old-style green European licenses must be accompanied by an International Driving Permit. EC format pink/green licenses, however, are acceptable without an international permit If you have a UK photo card remember to take the paper counterpart. You should always carry your driving license, the vehicle registration document and insurance document with you. To thwart car thieves, police are increasingly subjecting foreign-registered vehicles to spot checks. To pass such a check, operators must present vehicle and personal identification documents - including written permission from the owner if it's a borrowed vehicle. Vehicles which don't pass may be confiscated.

Drinking and driving:

Just one word of warning - don't! If you have anything over 0.05 percent alcohol in your blood, you will be liable for anything from a stiff fine to imprisonment. Plus, you may have a very nasty accident. So - don't!

Traffic fines:

Police are empowered to revoke your license and to collect fines on the spot. If you are unfortunate enough to get one, ensure the officer issues you an official receipt.


All grades of petrol, diesel and LPG fuels are available, apart from leaded fuel, which no longer exists. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, although they might not work at automatic pumps. These are often the only pumps available from the late evening onwards.


Headlights are required from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise. Dipped headlights must be used during poor daytime visibility, and in tunnels at all times. They must also be used when on motorways, dual carriageways, and on all out of town roads. Motorcycles must use dipped headlights during the day at all times. Only use fog lights in conditions of poor visibility.

Legal driving age:

Minimum legal driving age is 18 for a car and motorcycle over 125 cc.

Motor insurance:

Third-party insurance is compulsory.

Seat belts:

Compulsory for all occupants, front and rear seats.

Special requirements:

- Visibility vests are now compulsory in Italy, Austria, Belgium, Norway and Spain (and likely to become compulsory throughout the EU). The rules vary from country to country concerning number of vests required and whether they should be carried in the car or boot. Common sense suggests that there should be a vest for every occupant, and that the vests should be carried in the car. Do this and you will not have a problem.

- A warning triangle is compulsory

Car horns:

Use of the horn is prohibited in built-up areas except in cases of immediate and extreme danger; at night flash your lights instead. Outside built-up areas, however, you must use the horn to signal your intention to pass.

Bike racks:

Anything hanging off the end of a vehicle, such as a bicycle, must be tagged with a reflective red and white striped sign 50 cm square. The signs are sold at most automotive shops in Italy. You may be fined € 50 if you fail to satisfy this requirement.

Highway tolls:

Tolls are charged for using the highways (autostrade). Except for Sicily, tolls can be paid either by cash or by Viacard. Tickets are obtained on entrance to the autostrade and paid upon exiting. Viacards valued at  25 can be purchased at toll booths, fuel stations, tobacconists, etc, and are accepted on all routes excepting the A18 and the A20.



General driving tips regarding
driving regulations - Italy

The middle lane of three-lane roads is for passing. Passing on the right is permitted when the driver ahead has signaled a left turn and has moved to the canter of the road or when multiple lanes are traveling in your direction.

When driving on an autostrade, keep right at all times except to pass. It's the law, and also a socially enforced practice. Before passing, check rearview and side mirrors and let overtaking cars pass you - which they will usually do very quickly - especially if their turn signal is blinking. Always signal when passing. Pull out and overtake quickly - don't crawl by - and return to the right lane quickly. Don't worry about passing trucks in Italy. Trucks and buses are restricted to much lower speeds than cars and they generate very little turbulence. When passing multiple vehicles, leave your signal on the whole time. If you linger in the left lane you'll soon (sooner than you expect) be tailgated; flashing headlights or a horn blast mean pull over immediately.

The speed limit on the autostrade is 130 kms/h. While it is commonly known that most Italians pay little attention to posted speed limits, the Italian police have in recent years become more observant and tend to enforce regulations more assiduously. Signs announcing reductions required by local conditions are red-ringed white disks with black numerals; a bar through them means you can return to the normal speed limit for that road.

At exits or service areas, reduce speed quickly: ramps are often short and sharply curved. Tolls are high, so have cash or your Viacard handy. Route signs are white-lettered on green. A critically important sign on all roads is the blue disc with a white arrow. It means "Danger - get into the other lane immediately!" A rectangular sign with a dotted line up the middle and a bracket to the right means a lay-by is coming up, usually in 250 meters, so slow down quickly and signal if you plan to use it.
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All information on this page is provided as a service to our readers. It is intended as a guide to the more important driving regulations Italy enforces and is as accurate as possible at the time of writing. Please note that this is not a comprehensive document and should not be mistaken as such. We try and keep the information on this page as up-to-date as possible, but we cannot be held responsible in any way for any consequences arising from any inaccuracies.

Additional info:

- Official Italian Autostrade website

- Italian trip planning information

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