European rental car drivers should be aware that certain countries require vehicles traveling on motorways and autobahns to display a special windshield or windscreen sticker known as a "vignette.” A car rented in a country that requires a vignette will be properly equipped for that country, but will not come with vignettes for other countries. Thus, a traveler who picks up a car in a country which does not require a vignette will be responsible for purchasing the necessary sticker if the vehicle is driven into a country that requires it.

Which countries require vignettes?

Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland require a vignette sticker for driving on principal motorways that are similar to U.S. Interstate highways. The motorist must purchase a different sticker for each country that requires it. The cost and duration of a vignette's period of validity varies by country.

Where to buy a vignette

Rental companies do not sell vignettes. They must be purchased at border crossings and nearby gas stations. Fines for not displaying the proper windshield sticker start at around €60. Cars without vignettes can be detected by roadside cameras.

Approximate vignette costs

Austria: 10 days, €8; two months, €23.4; one year €77.8

Bulgaria: 7 days, €5; one month, €13; one year €34

Czech Republic: 10 days, CZK 310; one month CZK 440; one year CZK 1500

Hungary: 7 days, HUF 2975; one month, HUF 4,780; one year HUF 42,890

Romania: 7 days, €3; one month, €7; one year €77.8

Slovakia: 10 days, €10; one month, €14; three months, €13, one year, €28.

Slovenia: One week, €15; one month, €30; one year, €95.

Switzerland: One year, CHF 40

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