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DRIVING

EXPLAINED: How do you dispute a parking ticket in Italy?

Returned to your vehicle to find an unwelcome surprise on your windscreen from the Italian authorities? Here's what you need to know about contesting the fine.

EXPLAINED: How do you dispute a parking ticket in Italy?
Here's what you need to know if you get a parking fine in Italy. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)

Parking fines are a source of frustration when driving in Italy just as much as anywhere else.

Getting a fixed penalty notice stings, and it can happen easily enough whether you’re a resident or visitor – especially if you’re not yet familiar with the Italian road rules.

READ ALSO: How visitors to Italy can avoid driving penalties

Here’s what to watch out for when parking in Italy, and what you can do if you do receive a penalty.

Types of parking fines

It’s pretty easy to get landed with a parking fine if you don’t know the Italian road system. Your first priority is to check the colour of the lines you park in and the accompanying road signs, as these are an indicator of whether you need to pay and how much.

If you’re not using a paid-for car park or ‘parcheggio‘, you’ll mainly come across blue, yellow and white parking lines across Italian towns and cities.

Each of these carry different meanings for who can park there and the payment required.

They often work in combination with parking signs, so take care to read those in conjunction with the colours of lines you see on the road. For instance, you might see the parking ban symbol with workday hours, meaning you can only park there after working hours.

A “No parking” sign at Fiumicino Airport, south-west of Rome.  AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE

Blue lines generally mean that you need to pay to park your car there – but again, take care to check for any additional signs that may prohibit parking in certain hours.

To pay for your parking spot within blue lines, there are usually parking metres which will often accept coins, notes and bankcards. They almost always require your number plate (targa).

Some tabaccherie and edicole (kiosks) sell a parking scratch card called ‘gratta e sosta‘ (scratch and stay), which you activate by scratching off the date of parking and place it on your dashboard like a ticket.

There are also parking apps you can download ahead of time, like EasyPark and Phonzie – or you can simply look on the metre itself for different ways to pay, as some cities have their own parking app.

READ ALSO: Why the tabaccheria is essential to life in Italy – even if you don’t smoke

Yellow lines are reserved for certain users and vehicles, such as resident spaces, disabled car parking and service cars such as taxis.

There are sometimes also pink lines (parcheggio rosa) which are designated for pregnant women and mothers with children up to two years old. Anyone parking here would need a permit to prove they’re eligible to leave their car there.

White lines, on the other hand, usually mean that the parking is free, but always check the roadside for any additional signs or instructions in case.

Take care if you think there’s a parking spot with no lines at all. You wouldn’t be allowed to park near traffic lights or double park for example.

And if you’re driving a motorbike or scooter, resist the temptation to squeeze it in anywhere. Parking rules apply to these vehicles too, so if you leave your motorbike on the pavement like a bicycle, you may find it’s been removed – with a hefty fine to boot.

The fines vary from around €40 to over €400 according to article 157 of The Highway Code. How much you are demanded to pay depends on the violation and whether you decide to leave the engine running to keep the air conditioning on, for example.

How to pay your fine

You can pay the fine from abroad either by bank transfer or some municipalities allow you to pay online via a debit or credit card. In Italy itself, you can also pay fines at the post office (Poste Italiane).

Get to know the various parking signs to avoid a fine in Italy. Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

Deadlines

If you found a ticket on your windshield, you usually have 15 days to pay and you’ll get a discount if you pay it within five days.

If you receive it in the post, you have 60 days but again, will get a 30 percent discount if you transfer the funds within five days, according to article 202 of the Italian Highway Code.

If you exceed the terms of 60 days, the fine will increase and will keep increasing for late payment interest.

The authorities assume no responsibility in postal delays.

How to contest a parking ticket

If you believe the parking fine is invalid, you can lodge an appeal. However, you’ll need to make sure that you truly have grounds to contest the penalty according to the Highway Code – claiming that you simply didn’t know you couldn’t park in a certain space won’t wash.

If you choose to appeal, you forego the chance to get a discount by paying immediately and instead risk the fine increasing in the meantime.

Note: you cannot contest a fine after paying it, as paying the fine indicates you acknowledge the offence.

Should your fine be truly invalid – and especially if it’s high – you may want to go ahead with navigating Italian bureaucracy to avoid paying it.

READ ALSO: ‘Expect the unexpected’: What you need to know about driving in Italy

Accepted reasons must prove a defect, such as if the fine you receive contains incorrect information.

So if the licence plate number, the date and time of the alleged infringement or the location of the fine are incorrect, you can dispute the parking fine.

Check whether the articles of the Highway Code that have been infringed are listed correctly and how to lodge an appeal. If these defects are present, it will be possible to challenge the fine.

However, bear in mind that you might not get away with it on a technicality. If the car model is incorrect but the registration number is right, it’s unlikely the fine will be cancelled.

Other reasons to contest a parking ticket in Italy include if the parking spot wasn’t clearly marked.

You can contest a parking fine in Italy if you have good grounds. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

There are a few ways to dispute the fine. You can begin by contacting the municipality directly, but this doesn’t suspend the contestation. At the same time you can lodge an appeal with Prefect and the Justice of the Peace.

Appeals against fines before the Justice of the Peace can be submitted within 30 days of notification or assessment, while appeals to the Prefect can be lodged within 60 days.

This time limit starts from the moment you are aware of the fine. In other words, it runs from the date of receiving the fine.

Appeals to the Prefect must be made to the city where the violation was said to have been committed and must be written in Italian.

Contained in the letter are the reasons for contesting the fine and certain details such as your personal information, circumstances of the ticket, the legal grounds for the appeal and a request to cancel the fine.

This route is more administrative and reassesses what Italian traffic police deemed to be a violation of the Highway Code.

Appeals to the Justice of the Peace, on the other hand, are judicial and as such, are presided over by a judge.

Therefore, it’s clear that it’s best to refer to the Prefect in cases of obvious mistakes in a report, such as an incorrect licence plate number.

The judicial appeal must be sent by registered mail to the relevant municipality with return receipt or delivered in person to the clerk’s office.

As much evidence as possible will help your claim if you take this route, such as photographs and legal references showing how the fine is considered unlawful.

Please note The Local is unable to advise on individual cases. See full details of Italy’s Highway Code here and visit our travel section for the latest updates.

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For members

BUREAUCRACY

EXPLAINED: What’s an ISEE and when will you need one in Italy?

There are plenty of Italian acronyms new residents need to be familiar with, and this may be one of the most important. Here’s what it means and why you’ll need it.

EXPLAINED: What’s an ISEE and when will you need one in Italy?

Long-term Italian residents might be already familiar with the ISEE, but to others it’s no more than a mysterious-sounding acronym seen in reports about Italy’s many government ‘bonuses’ and subsidies.

ISEE stands for ‘Indicatore della Situazione Economica Equivalente’, which roughly translates into English as Equivalent Financial Position Indicator.

In typically Italian fashion though, the full name is likely to leave you just as puzzled as the acronym.

Basically the ISEE is a parameter used by Italy’s government and public administration to gauge the overall economic situation of a household. 

It takes a variety of factors into account, though it is for the most part based on the ages, annual income, assets and any physical disabilities of the members of a household. 

You could think of the ISEE as a sort of ‘financial ID card’, which states your household’s level of wealth and financial security.  

READ ALSO: How foreign nationals can apply for an Italian ID card

Sooner or later, all Italian residents end up crossing paths with the ISEE, usually when accessing means-tested government financial subsidies.

For instance, recently-extended discounts on gas and electricity bills can only be claimed by households with an ISEE of up to 12,000 euros. 

ISEE thresholds are also set for Italy’s universal single allowance, nursery bonus and most exemptions in the public healthcare system.

However, a household’s ISEE status is not automatically calculated by the Italian public administration. So those looking to access a state subsidy must go about claiming their own ISEE certificate independently. 

How do get your ISEE certificate?

It may not come as a surprise to hear that getting an ISEE certificate isn’t nearly as straightforward as it should be.

For this reason, even Italian nationals tend to need the help of private professionals. 

Claiming the certificate revolves around completing the ‘Dichiarazione Unica Sostitutiva’ (Single replacement declaration, or DSU); a form asking claimants about their income, assets and size of their household.

Customer speaking with employee in a tax office in Italy

The ISEE system takes into account a variety of factors, including the age, annual income and assets of any given household member. Photo by Andreas SOLARO

You can complete this form yourself, or have your commercialista (accountant) or another professional do this for you.

INPS recently launched a new online service allowing residents can ask to receive a pre-filled DSU form – some questions are automatically answered based on records held by INPS and the Agenzia delle Entrate – and then proceed to complete the document by themselves. 

Once completed, the form must be submitted either to your local Centro di Assistenza Fiscale (Fiscal Support Centre, CAF) or via the National Social Insurance Agency’s (INPS) website.

A DSU form can be submitted either to your local Fiscal Support Centre (CAF) or via the National Social Insurance Agency’s (INPS) website.
 
More Italian bureaucracy:

It can be submitted at any time of year, with the resulting ISEE certificate valid until the end of that same year.

The ISEE certificate is usually available within 10 days of submitting the form, though there might be delays if the info given through the DSU doesn’t match the records kept by the Agenzia delle Entrate (Revenue Agency) and INPS. 

Once the certificate is ready, residents can choose to either have it delivered online in downloadable format or pick it up in person. 

The following INPS web page allows users to work out whether or not they might be eligible to claim certain state subsidies by ‘unofficially’ calculating their ISEE status.

Further info about how to get an ISEE certificate is available on the Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Politics’ website (in Italian only).

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