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Taxation of heavy goods vehicles: Eurovignette Directive

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Taxation of heavy goods vehicles: Eurovignette Directive

The Directive harmonises levy systems - vehicle taxes, tolls and charges relating to the use of road infrastructure - and establishes fair mechanisms for charging infrastructure costs to hauliers.


Directive 1999/62/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 1999 on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures [See amending acts].


This Directive replaces Directive 93/89/EEC on the application by Member States of taxes on certain vehicles used for the carriage of goods by road and tolls and charges for the use of certain infrastructures (Eurovignette).

The Directive covers vehicle taxes, tolls and user charges imposed on vehicles intended for the carriage of goods by road and having a maximum permissible gross laden weight of not less than 12 tonnes.

It does not cover:

  • vehicles carrying out transport operations exclusively in the non-European territories of the Member States;
  • vehicles registered in the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, the Azores or Madeira and carrying out transport operations in these territories or between these territories and Spain or Portugal.

Vehicle taxes

The Directive indicates which taxes are concerned in each individual country. Each Member State is responsible for adopting procedures for levying and collecting these taxes, which are charged by the Member State in which the vehicle is registered.

Member States may not set vehicle tax rates any lower than the minimum rates set out in the Directive. Under the Directive, Member States also have the option, in certain cases and subject to certain conditions, of applying reduced rates or granting exemptions.

Tolls and user charges

The Directive lists the conditions to be met by Member States wishing to introduce and/or maintain tolls or introduce user charges. These conditions are as follows:

  • imposition only on users of motorways or similar roads, bridges, tunnels and mountain passes;
  • application of the principle of no discrimination on the grounds of the nationality of the haulier or the origin or destination of the vehicle;
  • no checks at internal borders;
  • re-examination of maximum rates for user charges on 1 July 2002, and every two years thereafter;
  • application of the principle of proportionality of rates for user charges, based on the duration of the use made of the infrastructures;
  • possibility of varying the rates depending on the categories of emissions from the vehicles and/or the time of day;
  • possibility for two or more Member States to cooperate in introducing a common system for user charges, subject to compliance with certain conditions such as the fair sharing of revenue among Member States.

In addition to the taxes provided for by the Directive, Member States may apply:

  • taxes or charges levied upon registration of the vehicle or imposed on vehicles or loads of abnormal weights or dimensions;
  • parking fees and specific urban traffic charges;
  • charges aimed at combating road congestion.

Member States that install electronic toll systems are responsible for ensuring that their systems are compatible.

Revision of the Directive (2006)

Directive 2006/38/EC of 17 May 2006 amends the Directive with a view to establishing a new Community framework for charging for the use of road infrastructure. This makes it possible to improve the efficiency of the road transport system and ensure the proper functioning of the internal market. The Directive lays down rules for the application by Member States of tolls or user charges on roads, including roads on the trans-European road network and roads in mountainous regions.

From 2012 onwards Directive 2006/38/EC will apply to vehicles weighing between 3.5 and 12 tonnes.

Member States are able to differentiate tolls according to a vehicle's emission category ("EURO" classification) and the level of damage it causes to roads, the place, the time and the amount of congestion. This makes it possible to tackle the problems of traffic congestion, including damage to the environment, on the basis of the "user pays" and "polluter pays" principles.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 1999/62/EC



OJ L 187 of 20.7.1999

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2006/38/EC



OJ L 157 of 9.6.2006

Directive 2006/103/EC



OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006


Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 July 2008 amending Directive 1999/62/EC on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures [COM(2008) 436 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. The amendment of the “Eurovignette” Directive should allow Member States to internalise the costs related to pollution and congestion caused by heavy goods vehicles (external costs). They will thus be authorised to integrate in tolls levied on heavy goods vehicles an amount corresponding to the cost of the air and noise pollution due to traffic and the cost of congestion imposed upon other vehicles. This amount will vary according to the Euro emission category, the distance travelled, the location and the time of use of roads. Member States will have to allocate the revenue received in this way to projects relating to the sustainable development of transport. Tolls must be collected through electronic systems which do not create hindrance to the free flow of traffic and which do not produce local nuisance at tollbooths. In addition, the scope of the Directive is extended beyond the trans-European transport network.

Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity [Official Journal L 283, 31.10.2003]. This Directive establishes a comprehensive taxation system for energy products and electricity.

Last updated: 13.10.2008