This page gives an overview of urban access regulations

What are urban access regulations?
Key Access Regulation Schemes (Key-ARS)
Why Access Regulations?
Types of Access Regulation
List of European cities key Access Regulations


What are urban access regulations?

Some cities and towns have regulations or restrictions for vehicles going into all or part of their area to improve issues such as air quality, congestion or how people experience the city, see more below. This can be by for example:

- charging for access to road space (urban road tolls)

not allowing dirty vehicles to go into the city (low emission zones)

- or by other entry restrictions or access regulations. These other types of regulation we call other entry restrictions, or key Access Regulation Schemes (key-ARS).

- road signs restricting certain types of vehicles from certain roads (physical traffic restrictions)

To make it more clear for you, we list these under the different types of urban access regulation schemes.

logo for key access regulation schemes Key Access Regulation Schemes (Key-ARS) are where access to the urban area is regulated by other methods than payment or emissions.

It might be where - a permit is required to drive into an area,
- access is only allowed at certain times of the day
- only certain vehicles or trips are allowed
- increased restrictions for non-electric vehicles

 These are also known as Traffic Restrictions, Limited Traffic Zones, Access Restrictions, 'other entry restrictions', Permit Schemes or in Italy ZTLs (Zona a Traffico Limitato). They can be enforced by cameras, physical barriers, police or local authority officers.

 Our website provides all the information you need on the schemes that operate in the larger or more touristy cities. This information will not be comprehensive or cover every urban area. However, we cover as many cities and towns as possible.

We do not generally include pedestrian areas or parking schemes, but have included a few of the bigger ones. We are complete for the Italian camera enforced ZTLs and LEZs, but not the non-camera enforced normal ZTLs.

If you have information on schemes that we do not yet cover, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and this will help us increase the number of schemes we have on our website.

See our overview page on the key Access Regulations for an overview to the different schemes in different countries. A list of all 'other entry restriction' schemes is given below this text.

You can also search for cities under the list of Countries, the Quick Guide or with the map

Spielstrasse,  Italian car fee street lorry ban road sign deliveries only road sign Italian ZTL narrow Street farm and forestry vehicles only road sign  

Why Access Regulations?

Many cities and towns struggle with the balance of congestion, ‘liveability’, air pollution, noise levels, accessibility, damage to historic buildings and other pressures of urban life. Many cities have levels of pollution that adversely affect health. Congested, polluted, noisy cities are not attractive for businesses or residents.

Air pollution is responsible for 310 000 premature deaths in Europe each yeari. This is more deaths than caused by road accidentsii. The human health damage from air pollution is estimated to cost the European economy between €427 and €790 billion per yeariii. For more information, see our why low emission zones page.

Congested, polluted, noisy cities are not attractive for businesses or residents. Congestion also has a significant impact on the economy, costing nearly €100 billion, or 1% of the EU's GDP, annuallyvi. The different types of Urban Access Regulations can reduce traffic and congestion in a city, and ensure that those that need to travel with a vehicle - for example deliveries - can travel rather than sitting in a traffic jam.

Traffic incidents caused 39000 fatalities in the EU in 2008. 23% of fatal accidents in built-up areas affected people under the age of 25. Less traffic and well planned streets in urban areas can lead to fewer accidents. vii

Attractiveness to Tourists, those visiting and bringing money into the cities do not want to see traffic jams or rows of tour buses. This is particularly the case for many Italian cities, with Zona a Traffico Limitato (ZTL)

Noise contributes to at least 10 000 cases of premature mortality each yearviii and noise from road and rail traffic is estimated to cost the EU €40 billion per yearix. Almost 90% of the health impact caused by noise exposure is associated with road traffic noisex.


Types of Access Regulation

There are many ways to try to tackle these issues, and regulating the vehicles or trips that access parts of the town is one. The most simple type of Access Regulation is a pedestrian zone, which can very much improve the attractiveness of a tourist attraction or shopping centre. Our website does not generally include pedestrian zones, as they occur in almost every town, and those who need to deliver to the shops have contact with the shops and so know about the scheme. Some pedestrian zones are included under physical restrictions and we include some of the larger schemes under key ARS.

Access regulations can be by vehicle type (eg car or lorry), vehicle weight (eg over 3.5 tonnes), by type of trip (eg delivery), by driver (eg residents or access), or for all vehicles. Our access regulations overview can help say what cities have what type of regulation.

Generally Access Regulations balance the need of vehicles to access an area, with a reduction in the number of vehicles entering the area. For example, encourages commuters to travel by public transport, cycle or foot.

Physical Access Restrictions are also often in place when a road is too narrow or bridge not strong enough for certain vehicles. These are covered under physical traffic restrictions on our website. Physical traffic restrictions also include many pedestrian zones and where lorries are only allowed to travel through towns and villages for deliveries or access. These last two types of schemes are very common, and it might be that our database does not include them all. If you are driving a heavy duty vehicle, you will be aware that you are often not allowed to drive through many cities, towns or villages, and the major roads around the towns should be used with preference.

older vehicle Camper van 6 tonnes

List of European cities with key Access Regulations

All cities with key Urban Access Regulations

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