If you do not follow the traffic rules in your vacation country, sometimes you will be asked to pay a lot. If you get a ticket from abroad, you’d better pay quickly. Fines from all EU countries can now be imposed in Germany.
Perhaps among the most unpopular souvenirs: fines for traffic violations like illegal parking, speeding, or not wearing a seatbelt while on vacation. Traffic offenses abroad are sometimes punished more strictly than in Germany. For example, if you drive 20 km/h too fast in Germany, you can currently expect a fine of up to €70. In Italy, it costs at least 175 euros, and in Norway even at least 585 euros.
So you should not ignore the fine notice from abroad, but first check it carefully, and if the accusation is true, pay it quickly. It is simply not a good idea to do without it, because fines from almost all EU countries can also be imposed in Germany afterwards.
Fines of 70 euros must be paid
In Germany, fines for other EU countries are capped at €70. This limit applies to the fine in addition to the administrative costs incurred. An exception is already imposed fines due in Austria from the limit of 25 euros in addition to the administrative costs incurred. However, in some cases, collection can be denied in that country, the ADAC announced. In addition to the fine amount of at least €70 (including any procedural costs), the foreign fine notice must not be written in the language of the country where the violation was committed, but must be sent in German.
In principle, only sums of money are collected. Currently, driving bans imposed abroad can only be enforced in the respective country. There are also no points in Flensburg for traffic violations abroad.
Fines are imposed across Europe
The Federal Office of Justice is responsible for subsequent collections. Foreign authorities turn the matter over to the Federal Office, which takes action when a German driver does not pay the ticket.
By the way, EU countries have a different consistency when it comes to imposing fines. While the Netherlands, for example, generally has fines collected in Germany by the competent Federal Office of Justice, other countries are more cautious. Fines imposed on non-EU countries such as Great Britain, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland cannot be applied in Germany.
That’s why it’s worth paying the fines
It is usually worth paying the fine. Because travelers with unpaid fines from abroad can experience a nasty surprise on their next vacation in the same country. For example, legally binding fines expire after five years in Italy and four years in Spain. The fine can be imposed later abroad, for example if vacationers are checked during a traffic check. Late payers can also be noticed during passport control at the airport in the country of destination.
By the way: if you pay the fine quickly, many countries give big discounts. Depending on the country and type of traffic violation, discounts of up to 50 percent can be obtained. France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Slovenia and Spain are especially generous.
Beware of private debt collection companies
The business of collecting foreign fines through lawyers, notaries or private debt collection companies flourishes: many Germans are subsequently required to pay, usually at high surcharges in favor of lawyers and debt collection companies.
And he stresses that “anyone who does not abide by the rules abroad is of course responsible for that.” Adak Attorney Michael Nissen, “But additional fees must be proportionate and not serve as a lucrative source of income for private attorneys or debt collection providers.”
Important: Police fines may only be collected by the authorities. In Germany, the Federal Office of Justice is exclusively responsible for this. Foreign municipalities and authorities must apply to the Federal Office for Law Enforcement Assistance.
Country details: You should pay attention to this
ADAC’s attorney, Michael Nissen, argues that: “Drivers may not pay more for traffic tickets abroad than locals.” So: customary local fines for illegal parking, fair payment methods and appropriate debt collection processing fees. For disputes, Nissen would like to set up national or EU-wide arbitration boards.
Examples of situations that frequently cause problems for German drivers:
- In Croatia it is better to ask twice if parking is really allowed. If you still got a ticket, then you must definitely pay it on the spot. Important: keep all receipts.
- In Italy, avoid entering the “zona traffico limitato” unless you have permission from your hotel in the old town, for example. It is safe to park outside the city. Tip: be careful at the toll stations – they can be very expensive here too.
- registration in Low session area (LEZ) in London is free and needs to be done early. Processing may take up to 14 days. Diesel vehicles over 1.2 tons are subject to registration, and only vehicles with a poor emission class are subject to a fee. Cars do not have to be registered. To avoid misunderstandings and (unjustified) fines, it is advisable to do the same for larger cars such as Renault Kangoo or VW Caddy.
If in doubt, seek legal advice
In the event of incorrect fines, license plate confusion, suspicions about the charge, or a misunderstanding, you should seek legal assistance – if necessary with the help of a lawyer in the holiday country – file an objection.
This applies, for example, to notices of fines for parking violations in Croatia, which are sent by notaries and lawyers from Pula. In the case of accrued parking fees from 10 to 40 euros, they ask up to 500 euros in addition – for legal costs, among other things. The European Court of Justice recently found that Croatian notaries are not authorized to do so. Recently, Croatian courts have also deemed most lawyers’ fees exorbitant.
Overview of additional costs for traffic violations
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