Comparison of European road signs

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European traffic signs present relevant differences between countries despite an apparent uniformity and standardisation. Most European countries refer to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals. The convention has been adopted by the following countries (including acceding states): Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey,[1] Ukraine and the United Kingdom. The convention has not been adopted by Ireland, Iceland or Malta.

Example of a Swiss road sign

Differences between European traffic signs[edit]

French sign showing the difference between French and Swiss motorway sign colours, on the A411 near Geneva

The main differences relate to

  • Graphic design details
  • Local regulatory significance
  • The colour-coding of directional signs
  • Local language texts (sometimes bilingual)
  • The meaning and colour-coding of horizontal road surface markings

Graphic differences[edit]

  • Warning signs in Ireland are yellow and diamond-shaped (as in the Americas, Australasia, and some east Asian countries), and thus differ from the white or yellow, red-bordered, triangular signs found in the rest of Europe
  • The design of individual pictograms (tunnel, pedestrian, car, etc.), while broadly similar, often varies in detail from country to country
  • Type of arrows may be different
  • Fonts of written words

Differences of directional and informatory signage[edit]

The colour, shape, text style (bold, capitals etc.), or even an additional sign (pictogram, route number, etc.) of the signage give information about the road class of the indicated route.

Country Motorways

(Controlled-access highway
announced as
or )

Expressways

(Limited-access road
announced as
or )

Primary routes Secondary routes Regional destinations Local destinations Tourist signs Temporary Detour
Outside urban area
Albania PRISHTINE SHKODER KUDHES n/a n/a Qender Plazhi i Zaroshkes DURRES
Armenia ՍԵՎԱՆ
SEVAN
ԵՐԵՎԱՆ
YEREVAN
ՉԱՐԵՆՑԱՎԱՆ
CHARENTSAVAN
n/a n/a ՀՅՈՒՐ. ԱՆԻ ՊԼԱԶԱ
HOTEL ANI PLAZA
ՎԱՅՈՑ ՁՈՐ
VAYOTS DZOR
Շրջանցման ուղղություն
DETOUR
Austria Salzburg Wien Villach n/a Salzkammergut[c 1] Umleitung
Belarus МІНСК ГОМЕЛЬ НАВАГРУДАК n/a n/a вул. ФІЛІМОНАВА КАСЦЁЛ СВЯТОГА МІХАІЛА аб'езд
Belgium Brussel Kortrijk
Courtrai
Gent
Gand
n/a n/a Centrum
Centre
Zentrum
Atomium Wegomlegging
Déviation
Umleitung
Bruxelles
[c 2]
Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo
Сарајево
Banja Luka
Бања Лука
Mostar
Мостар
n/a n/a Centar
Центар
Međugorje Obilazak
Обилазница
Bulgaria Ямбол
Yambol
Русе
Ruse
Павликени
Pavlikeni
n/a n/a Център
Centre
Етър
Etar
Варна
Varna
Croatia Zagreb Bjelovar Vukovar n/a n/a Centar Plitvička jezera Obilazak
Zračna luka[c 3]
Czech Republic BRNO PRAHA VYŠKOV n/a SLOVANY Letiště Hrad Bouzov PRAHA
Denmark Aarhus n/a Skanderborg[c 4] n/a n/a Stadion Himmelbjerget Nakskov
Estonia TALLINN n/a TOOMPEA n/a n/a n/a Pirita klooster ÜMBERSÕIT
Finland HELSINKI
HELSINGFORS
LAPPEENRANTA PORVOO
BORGÅ
n/a KYMINLINNA Kirjasto Hiidenkivi TURKU
France PARIS MARSEILLE BEAUVAIS[c 5] TOULON LA CHAPPELLE n/a Gare S.N.C.F. PARC NATUREL Déviation
Germany Hamburg Freiburg[c 6] Lübeck n/a n/a Bahnhof Burg Eltz Umleitung
Greece Θεσσαλονίκη
Thessaloniki
Πάτρα
Patra
Αθήνα
Athina
n/a n/a Κέντρο
Centre
Ακρόπολη
Akropolis
Εύοσμος
Evosmos
Hungary Budapest Vác Gyöngyös n/a n/a ◉ Centrum Vár Gödöllő
Iceland n/a n/a Akureyri n/a Garðabær Flugstöð n/a Hjáleið
Ireland Ɑ́th Cliɑth
DUBLIN
n/a Tulɑch Mhór
TULLAMORE[c 7]
Seɑntrɑbh
SANTRY[c 8]
n/a Ɑn Lɑ́r
CITY CENTRE
Ɑn Bhóireɑnn
THE BURREN
Cúrsɑ Timpill
DETOUR
Italy VENEZIA UDINE BORGOSOLE n/a n/a aeroporto Colfosco deviazione
Liechtenstein  St. Gallen  Chur Schaan Vaduz n/a Bahnhof Burg Umleitung
Lithuania KLAIPĖDA KAUNAS VILNIUS n/a n/a CENTRAS Kernavės archeologinė vietovė Apylanka
Montenegro Podgorica Bar Herceg Novi n/a n/a Centar Skadarsko Jezero Obilazak
Netherlands A 44 Amsterdam Den Haag Arnhem N 50 n/a n/a Centrum Nationaal Park OMLEIDING
Volg A[c 9]
Norway Nannestad Lillestrøm Trondheim n/a n/a Sykehus Kvitsand Bergen
Poland Wrocław Poznań Opole n/a n/a Centrum Kraków Objazd
Portugal Lisboa n/a Portalegre Fig.ra Foz[c 10] ALGARVE[c 11] centro castelo Desvio
Romania București Craiova Pitești n/a n/a Centru Castelul Bran Ocolire
Russia БЕЛГОРОД МОСКВА ОРЛОВО n/a ЛИПЕЦК ул. Арбат музей-усадьба Н. К. РЕРИХА объезд
Serbia Београд
Beograd
Крагујевац
Kragujevac
Зрењанин
Zrenjanin
n/a n/a Центар
Centar
Студеница
Studenica
Обилазак
Obilazak
Slovakia Košice Nitra Bratislava n/a n/a Centrum Hrad obchádzka
Slovenia Maribor Nova Gorica Medvode n/a n/a Center Postojnska jama Obvoz
Spain Villalba[c 12] Córdoba[c 13] Oviedo / Uviéu[c 14] PINTO[c 15] BADAJOZ n/a centro Navacerrada DESVÍO
Sweden GÖTEBORG STOCKHOLM FALUN n/a NORRMALM Vårdcentral Långe Erik NYKÖPING
Switzerland Basel Chiasso Moudon Ftan n/a Gare CFF Castello Umleitung
Déviation
Deviazione
Turkey İstanbul n/a Ankara n/a n/a Şehir Merkezi Dara Antik Kenti n/a
Ukraine Київ
Kyiv
Жашків
Zhashkiv
Рудня
Rudnia
n/a n/a Центр Борисоглібська церква об'їзд
detour
United Kingdom Nottingham M1 n/a[c 16] A' Chrìon-Làraich
Crianlarich
A82
Aylesbury The NORTH[c 17] Village Hall Thorpe Park Diversion
  1. ^ Used to indicate locations like regions, city centres, city districts and tourist locations. In reality, there is no clearcut and consistent usage of the white on green signs; for city centres and city districts, black on white signals are often preferred if the roads leading to them are primary roads.
  2. ^ The directional signs to motorways are white on green, whereas the directional signs on motorways are white on blue. Compare sign F31 of the Belgian Road Code in green (a directional sign to a motorway, but not on a motorway) with the other directional signs in blue (especially F15, F25, F27 and F29, all of which are also used in blue on motorways): "Code de la route - Article 71. Signaux d'indication (F1-F31)". Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  3. ^ Used for services and objects like stations, hospitals etc. See: Pravilnik o turističkoj i ostaloj signalizaciji na cestama. Retrieved on 2022-08-07.
  4. ^ Directional signs that are mounted overhead on multi-lane primary roads are white on blue.
  5. ^ Used to indicate specific directions
  6. ^ German traffic law does not know the category of "expressways", but there are certain roads commonly referred to as "autobahnähnliche Straßen" ("roads similar to motorways") which, while not being "motorways" in a legal sense, have a very similar profile to motorways. The signs on such roads are not white on blue (like on motorways), but normally black on yellow like on most other primary roads and, in exceptional cases, black on white like on local roads.
  7. ^ National primary & secondary roads. Route numbers are written in yellow.
  8. ^ Regional & local roads
  9. ^ On non-motorways only
  10. ^ Certain town names may be abbreviated, in this case for Figueira da Foz
  11. ^ Regional destinations and cardinal directions are written fully in uppercase (e.g. "ALGARVE" or "NORTE"), with the text and background colors being accordingly with the type of road
  12. ^ Next to AUTOPISTA also used for AUTOVÍA and AUTOBIA
  13. ^ Vía reservada para automóviles
  14. ^ vía rápida
  15. ^ carretera convencional
  16. ^ There is no expressway class of road in the UK
  17. ^ Regional destinations consist of upper case cardinal destinations and regions (e.g. "The NORTH" or "The SOUTH WEST") and are only used on motorway and primary road signs

Differences in meanings[edit]

Irish rural speed limit sign on a local road
  • Sometimes similar signs have minor differences in meanings, following the local traffic codes. For example, the Irish "rural speed limit" sign for local tertiary roads takes the appearance of that used to denote the end of all previously signed restrictions used elsewhere in Europe. However this sign, which is always accompanied with a "SLOW" supplementary plate, actually indicates a speed limit of 80 km/h.[2]
  • Another example is the United Kingdom's "pass either side" sign, which has a more specific meaning. Unlike many countries, the sign indicates that drivers may pass on either side of an obstacle, such as a traffic island, to reach the same destination.[3]
  • All European countries use the metric system (distances in kilometres or metres; speeds in kilometres per hour; heights, widths and lengths in metres; weights in tonnes) with the exception of the United Kingdom, where distances and speeds are still indicated in imperial measurements (miles or yards and miles per hour). Since 2016, on width and height limit signs both metric and imperial measurements are used (metres and feet & inches), however older signs still show imperial-only measurements [citation needed]. Weight limits have been expressed in metric tonnes since 1981, but signs continued to use an upper case "T" until 2011.

Road surface markings[edit]

  • Longitudinal lines (lanes and margins) and symbols on the carriageway are always white (but in Norway a yellow line separates two-way traffic and in Ireland edge lines are yellow). Temporary markings are yellow in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, but red/orange in Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Russia, and white in the United Kingdom.
  • A stop line is always represented by a white thick traversal continuous line, but a give way line may be represented by a white thick dashed line as rectangles (Germany, France, Spain) or by a double-dashed line (United Kingdom) or by a white line of triangles (Austria, Italy, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland). In Ireland, give way markings are represented by a single dashed line; on one way streets and entrances to roundabouts it is instead represented by a combination of a single solid line and a single dashed line.
  • A disc (time-limited) parking place is identified by white lines in Germany and by blue lines in Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Switzerland. A chargeable parking place is identified by white lines in Germany, France, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, and Switzerland and by blue lines in Italy, Spain and Russia. A parking place reserved for disabled people is bordered in white in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom; in yellow in Italy, Liechtenstein and Switzerland; and in blue in France. Other reserved parking places (bus, taxis) are bordered with yellow lines in Italy, Liechtenstein, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, but with white lines in Germany.
  • The prohibition of roadside parking can be indicated by a yellow continuous line (Spain, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom), by a yellow dashed line (Austria,[4] the Netherlands and France), by a yellow dashed line with X's (Liechtenstein and Switzerland), a white continuous line (Italy), or else by black-and-white (the Netherlands) or a black-and-yellow (the Netherlands and Italy) kerb markings. Only in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland does a double yellow line (as well as a white zig-zag line in the vicinity of pedestrian crossings) mean "no parking at any time".
  • The prohibition of stopping / waiting can be indicated by a yellow continuous line (Austria, the Netherlands, France, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Russia), and in (certain cities of) the United Kingdom by a red continuous line (with double red lines extending the meaning to "no stopping at any time). In the United Kingdom, a yellow zig-zag line near hospitals, police stations, and schools means "no stopping".

Different typefaces in texts[edit]

A sign with the use of Transport font in Icelandic

In Albania, Andorra, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Monaco, Russia, San Marino, Sweden, and Ukraine, destinations on direction signs are written in capital letters. In Ireland, they are written in all-capital letters in English and in mixed-case letters in Irish. In Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein. Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland both capital and lowercase are used. In Spain, destinations reached by motorway are written in capital and lowercase, while those reached by other roads are written in capital letters. In the United Kingdom and Portugal, regional destinations names and cardinal directions are written in capital letters, while the remaining destinations names are written in capital and lowercase.

Table of traffic signs comparison[edit]

Priority[edit]

Austria Belgium Bulgaria Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France
Monaco
Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Republic of Ireland Italy
San Marino
Vatican City
Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Moldova Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Russia Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain
Andorra
Sweden Switzerland
Liechtenstein
Turkey Ukraine United Kingdom
Austria Belgium Bulgaria Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France and Monaco Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy, San Marino, and Vatican City Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Moldova Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Russia Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain and Andorra Sweden Switzerland and Liechtenstein Turkey Ukraine United Kingdom
Stop
Give way/Yield
or

or

or
Priority road
End of priority road
Give way to oncoming traffic
Priority over oncoming traffic
Stop ahead

























Give way ahead


























Austria Belgium Bulgaria Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France and Monaco Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy, San Marino, and Vatican City Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Moldova Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Russia Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain and Andorra Sweden Switzerland and Liechtenstein Turkey Ukraine United Kingdom

Warning[edit]

Austria Belarus Belgium Bulgaria Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France and Monaco Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy, San Marino, and Vatican City Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Moldova Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Russia Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain and Andorra Sweden Switzerland and Liechtenstein Turkey Ukraine United Kingdom
Curve
Series of curves
Crossroads (with priority to the right)
Crossroads (with a minor road)
Roundabout
or

[note 1]
Traffic signals
or

or
Two-way traffic
or

or

or
Traffic queues
Steep ascent

Steep descent

Austria Belarus Belgium Bulgaria Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France and Monaco Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy, San Marino, and Vatican City Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Moldova Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Russia Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain and Andorra Sweden Switzerland and Liechtenstein Turkey Ukraine United Kingdom
Pedestrian crossing
Pedestrians
Children
or
Cyclists
Domesticated animals
or

or

or

or

or

or

or
Wild animals
or

or

or

or

or

or
Road narrows
Uneven surface
Bump
Dip A38 dip
Austria Belarus Belgium Bulgaria Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France and Monaco Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy, San Marino, and Vatican City Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Moldova Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Russia Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain and Andorra Sweden Switzerland and Liechtenstein Turkey Ukraine United Kingdom
Slippery surface
Loose surface material
Soft or low verges


Ice or snow









Fog




[note 2]
Falling rocks
Crosswinds
Unprotected body of water
or

or
Opening bridge
Tunnel
Austria Belarus Belgium Bulgaria Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France and Monaco Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy, San Marino, and Vatican City Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Moldova Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Russia Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain and Andorra Sweden Switzerland and Liechtenstein Turkey Ukraine United Kingdom
Low-flying aircraft
or

or

or
Trams

Level crossing with barriers ahead
or
Level crossing without barriers ahead
Level crossing (single track)