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Telepass – Italy

The automatic toll collection system in Italy is named Telepass. It covers approx. 6,500 kilometres of the country’s motorways. It is composed of two elements: toll gantries and on-board units. The devices communicate with gantries using microwave technology (DSRC). The toll is collected automatically when a toll-liable vehicle passes under a gantry. Vehicles not equipped with OBUs can use Italian motorways as well.

How does the system work?

In Italy, road tolls are obligatory for all road users; toll rates depend on a vehicle’s category. Tolls are charged both within and outside of the Telepass system.

Road tolls can be paid at toll stations. The toll station is typically composed of a number of toll gates that accept different payment methods:

  • automatic gates for cash payments,
  • credit card gates,
  • gates operated by toll station personnel,
  • dedicated, non-stop lanes.

Tolls can be paid only at toll gates. To make the payment, a driver must stop at a toll both suitable for the selected payment method. Non-stop lanes are for Telepass users only. Telepass is a closed system, though. Access to the system is granted upon the payment by a credit card or a Telepass card (called “VIACARD”).  The cards are issued by Autostrade S.p.A., the system’s operator. VIACARD is required for the ordering or rental of the Telepass on-board unit.

Useful information:

  • VIACARDs also operate as magnetic pre-paid cards; EUR 25, 50 and 75 pre-paid nominal amounts are available.
  • Neither Telepass nor VIACARD operates in Sicily.

Telepass on-board unit

Similarly to devices operating in Poland, Telepass on-board units use the microwave technology. The OBU should be installed behind the windscreen inside a vehicle. At a toll station, the vehicle should be driven at a dedicated non-stop lane. The gate will open as soon as the device connects to the system and debits the toll due.  The OBU can be obtained only by VIACARD holders.

Please note that a VIACARD is assigned to a specific on-board unit.

Which vehicles have to pay toll charges?

Tolls are charged on all vehicles using Italian motorways. The toll is determined on the basis of the number of a vehicle’s axles. Vehicles are divided into the following categories:

  • Two-wheeled and two-axle vehicles:
    • Category A – front axle height of 1.30 metres or less
    • Category B – front axle height of more than 1.30 metres
  • Vehicles with more than 2 axles:
    • Category 3 – three axles
    • Category 4 – four axles
    • Category 5 – five axles

Which roads are toll roads?

The toll rates depend on a vehicle category and a motorway’s operator. Usually, motorways on flat terrain are less expensive than those crossing mountain areas.

Who enforces payments and how?

In Italy, penalties for road traffic offences are high and strictly enforced. A driver fined with a ticket must pay it immediately in cash. Otherwise, the vehicle will be escorted to a paid parking lot, and an additional parking fee will be charged from the driver.

The most hefty fines and penalties are imposed for drivers who attempt to change a lane at toll stations. Behaviour such as leaving the vehicle, backing up from a queue or unreasonably changing a lane is subject to the following sanctions:

  • a fine of up to EUR 6,000,
  • invalidation of the driver’s license for a period of up to two years,
  • impounding of the vehicle for a period of up to three months.

Irregularities related to automatic toll payments are treated with more leniency. A failure to pay a toll is often “forgiven” provided that the responsible haulier pays the outstanding charge within 15 days. If no payment is made, the system will automatically bill the amount due on the next invoice.

A vehicle which is not equipped with the Telepass on-board unit and travels on a non-stop lane will be stopped. Personnel of Inkasso Technobroker will calculate the toll for the distance travelled; operating costs will be added to the bill. The payment must be made immediately; otherwise the vehicle will be towed to a paid parking lot.

If tolls have been paid in cash or a card but the driver lost the receipt, the system will charge the rate for the longest possible route.

How to pay?

Road toll payments can be made at toll gates.

Additional charges:

  • Monthly fee for the Telepass OBU is EUR 1.03 plus VAT for each unit. Telepass OBU remains the property of Autostrade S.p.A. The device should be returned upon termination of the contract. The penalty for a failure to return the OBU is EUR 25.82 plus VAT for a device.
  • VIACARDs are subject to an annual fee of EUR 15.49 and EUR 3.10, charged for the first and each subsequent card, respectively.  In case the card is damaged or destroyed, it may be replaced free of charge, provided that the damaged or destroyed card is returned. If the card is stolen or lost, a duplicate may be issued but the incident must be reported to the police.

Consorzio – discount programme

Italian road tolls are a significant cost item on transport companies’ budgets. The toll rates charged in Italy are among the highest in Europe.
 Not surprisingly, the Italian government has taken action to encourage hauliers to use Telepass and created Consorzio, a membership organisation for transport companies.

Members of Consorzio are offered discounts on road tolls, both motorway and tunnel tolls. The discount is granted annually and amounts to approximately 10% of the total customer’s annual expenses incurred on Italian motorways.  The discount decreases the value of the next Telepass invoice.

To become a member of Consorzio, an applicant must satisfy the following criteria:

  • be a business registered in the EU or Switzerland, which provides long-distance transport services or uses vehicles with a maximum authorised gross weight of up to 3.5 tonnes,
  • pay a contribution of EUR 100 plus an entry fee of EUR 50.

Useful links: