Vienna Convention on Road Traffic

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Convention on Road Traffic
Participation in the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic
Signed 8 November 1968
Location Vienna
Effective 21 May 1977
Signatories 36
Parties 74[1]
Depositary UN Secretary-General
Languages English, French, Chinese, Russian and Spanish
Vienna Convention on Road Traffic at Wikisource

The Convention on Road Traffic, commonly known as the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, is an international treaty designed to facilitate international road traffic and to increase road safety by establishing standard traffic rules among the contracting parties. The convention was agreed upon at the United Nations Economic and Social Council's Conference on Road Traffic (7 October – 8 November 1968) and concluded in Vienna on 8 November 1968. It came into force on 21 May 1977. The convention has been ratified by 74 countries, but those who have not ratified the convention may still be parties to the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic. This conference also produced the Convention on Road Signs and Signals.

Cross-border vehicles[edit]

One of the main benefits of the convention for motorists is the obligation on signatory countries to recognise the legality of vehicles from other signatory countries. The following requirements must be met when driving outside the country of registration:

  • Cars must display their registration number at the front and rear, even if legislation in the jurisdiction of registration does not require a front vehicle registration plate on cars. Motorcycles need display their registration number only at the rear. Registration numbers must be composed either of numerals or of numerals and letters. and must be displayed in capital Latin characters and Arabic numerals. In addition to this, the registration number may optionally be displayed in a different alphabet.
  • A distinguishing sign of the country of registration must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. This sign may either be placed separately from the registration plate or may be incorporated into the vehicle registration plate. When the distinguishing sign is incorporated into the registration plate, it must also appear on the front registration plate of the vehicle. The physical requirements for the separate sign are defined in Annex 3 of the convention, which states that it must comprise black writing on a white oval background and that it must not form part of the vehicle's registration number. In practice, the requirement to display the white oval is mutually waived between some countries, for example between the European Union countries (where the white oval may be substituted by a blue strip on the Vehicle registration plates of Europe),[2] and between Canada, the United States, and Mexico (where the province, state or district of registration is usually embossed or surface-printed on the vehicle registration plate).
  • The vehicle must meet all technical requirements to be legal for road use in the country of registration. Any conflicting technical requirements (e.g., right-hand-drive or left-hand-drive) in the signatory country where the vehicle is being driven do not apply.
  • The driver must carry the vehicle's registration certificate, and if the vehicle is not registered in the name of an occupant of the vehicle (e.g., a hire car), proof of the driver's right to be in possession of the vehicle.

The United States and China are the most notable examples of non-signatory countries. Short-term tourists are not permitted to bring cars into China. All foreign-registered vehicles in China must display a Chinese vehicle registration plate.

The convention also addresses minimum mechanical and safety equipment needed to be on board and defines an Identification mark (Annex 4) to identify the origin of the vehicle.

Contracting Parties[edit]

The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic was concluded at Vienna on 8 November 1968. Since its entry into force on 21 May 1977, in signatory countries ("Contracting Parties") it replaces previous road traffic Conventions, notably the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, in accordance with Article 48 of the Convention.

International conventions on transit transport[edit]

The broad objective of these International Conventions and Agreements, the depositary of which is the Secretary-General of the United Nations, is to facilitate international transport while providing for a high level of safety, security, and environmental protection in transport:[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Status of 19. Convention on Road Traffic". United Nations. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Council Regulation (EC) No 2411/98". Council of the European Union. 3 November 1998. 
  3. ^ "Treaty Seminar Issues Note" (PDF). United Nations. 8 July 2004. 

External links[edit]