Planning a road trip in central Europe, or even just heading to Budapest for a day? If you recently moved here, you should know one very important thing about driving on major highways in this area of the continent: highway vignettes.

Vignettes are toll stickers that you must purchase to drive on many highways in certain countries.In Hungary, highways that start with “M” (such as the M1, M3, M8) require a vignette. If you do not have one on or registered to your car and you drive on these highways, you will get an expensive ticket mailed to your house.

Most vignettes can be purchased on three levels: 10-day, 1-month, 1-year. But the most complex thing about the system is that some countries sell them online, but others must be purchased at the border, either at a fueling station or a specific office that just sells vignettes.

In Papa fuel stations, you can purchase sticker vignettes for Hungary (of course) and Slovenia. Some countries have E-vignettes that can be purchased immediately online, making your border passage simpler. You need to research your trip before leaving to be prepared. In the image below, highways in red require a vignette for passage.

If you plan on making frequent trips to Budapest or Vienna, it may be worthwhile to invest in an annual vignette for Hungary and Austria. It’s much simpler to know you have the freedom to take to the highway anytime without having to purchase a vignette first!

Here is a great website to help you research your next road trip to determine which vignettes may be necessary to avoid fines:

https://www.tolltickets.com/country/europe/europe.aspx?lang=en-GB 

Shortly after we moved to Papa and purchased our vignette-less vehicle, my husband and I were driving towards Budapest when we realized mere moments before getting on the M1 that we hadn’t purchased a vignette! I got online using my phone and found a website to purchase the vignette. Unfortunately, we accidentally input the wrong tag number for our car, so a while later we discovered not one, but two large fines in the mailbox. We were mystified until we looked up the vignette we purchased and realized the mistake. Thankfully, our CLOs helped us learn that all we needed to do was visit an office in Budaors to prove that we actually had a vignette while driving on the M1. For a very small fee, they corrected our vignette and even applied it retroactively to our tickets so we didn’t have to pay the fine. Whew! We were so grateful that situation worked out, and we learned our lesson about vignettes.