I'm in Florence on vacation with my parents and we've run into some trouble with the city buses. We took an ATAF bus and were confused on how the system worked. Apparently you stamp the ticket when you get on and it's good for 90 minutes, which was fine since we just got to our destination and back on another bus within an hour.

However, we thought we were supposed to stamp the ticket again when we got on the second bus, so when the inspector looked at our tickets he couldn't make out the first stamp. He claimed that the first stamp was at 18:34 when really it was 19:34. At 18:34 we were on a shuttle and have the receipt to prove it, but he wouldn't listen, just said to go to the ticket office and talk to them.

When we got there no one spoke English and refused to even talk to my uncle in Milan on the phone who could translate. Now I'm so fed up and willing to just pay the fine and be done with it, but the problem is the inspector forgot to give me a copy of my penalty ticket, so I can't even pay for myself. The guys at the ticket office are very unhelpful and just keep telling me to pay. I can't even if I want to!

My flight home is in two days and I'm worried they won't let me leave the country if I don't get this resolved.

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    The inspector got a copy of my passport, so I think they have my name and passport# on the penalty ticket.
    – Kim
    May 27, 2016 at 10:52
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    Entering Italy without reading the regulations for each different public transport company is possibly the only thing worse than entering Italy expecting people to speak English :*) May 28, 2016 at 8:24
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    "we just got to our destination and back on another bus within an hour" - note that in very many public transportation systems, you are not allowed to use single-trip tickets for round trips (i.e. traveling back to the point of origin on the same ticket). This may or may not be the case in Florence, but it is something to be aware of. May 28, 2016 at 12:17
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    there is absolutely no problem with leaving the country. I'm sorry you had a bad experience! note that in Italy people speak Italian, not English.
    – Fattie
    May 28, 2016 at 17:56
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    Whilst I appreciate "when in Rome" (literally!) and speaking Italian and all that, with the best will in the world it's unrealistic to expect a tourist to study a foreign language to the point where you can engage an uncooperative public official in a discussion about stamps on bus tickets, and if I were wrongly accused of transgressing some rule and had got nowhere trying to sort it out I'd feel no guilt in just giving up and walking away from the situation with the fine unpaid.
    – bye
    May 28, 2016 at 19:06

5 Answers 5


There is no online database lookup when you leave Italy. At the most they will check your passport to make sure it is valid, and stamp it if necessary. Theoretically this could be done if you use the passport e-gates if they're at the airport you're using and you're eligble to use them. However, there is absolutely zero chance that Italian bureaucracy would ever be efficient enough to be able to do this. You have no need to worry.

  • 25
    That is likely true. However there might be trouble coming back a later time. In case the OP doesn't pay the bus operators might go to court and get a warrant which might be noticed on next entrance. Probably they won't do for one ticket as cost of the process for them is higher than the chance of catching you, but they have the ability.
    – johannes
    May 27, 2016 at 12:41
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    The Italian police have become notorious for tracking people down for speeding tickets, especially across the EU. No idea whether this would be the same for bus fines...
    – Ben
    May 29, 2016 at 21:35
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    @Ben: That's not specific to Italy, there's a recent EU policy to facilitate the exchange of traffic violation tickets. And it is specific to traffic violations. Probably because in ~95% of the cases these tickets are created by an automated system, and serve as the major cash revenue of the justice department. (E.g. in the Netherlands 95% of all fines are speeding tickets, 97% of which are automated. And while only a minor fraction of total Dutch fines, the absolute amount owned by Belgians and Germans is still significant. )
    – MSalters
    May 30, 2016 at 8:42
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    I'd give you more points for: " there is absolutely zero chance that Italian bureaucracy would ever be efficient enough to be able to do this." but alas i can't.
    – Vincent
    May 30, 2016 at 9:02

According to the ataf website (which I can transalte for you in the part concerning administrative fines), you have 15 days to pay the fine before getting a written notification. After the notification, you will have to pay the full fine (rather than a reduced one) within the next 60 days. After that term, an additional procedure (possibly via court) will apply. So there is no reason to keep you in Italy for not paying a fine; it is up to them to get in touch with you.

If you have the chance to pass by Santa Maria Novella station, you will find the Ataf infopoint at gate 8 & 9 (Mon-Sat 7-20) or you can call the toll free number 800 424500 (or your uncle can).


There is no chance that you will have any issue with this. However, if the fine is very small (less than 50E), pay it. I went into trouble once on the way to Pisa from Florence. Nobody told us to stamp the ticket, and the conductor got us. He asked us to pay a fine of 25E and stamped all three.

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    Judging from the question, she's willing to pay, but doesn't know how.
    – user24581
    May 29, 2016 at 8:07

I'm Italian

Never worry while in Italy or travelling in or out. Italy is on its way from a Middle Ages country where everything is allowed to a more modern country where everybody will respect the law.

Just have fun every moment: no one will deprive you of the beauty of the country and disturb your stay. A minor infraction is nothing.


I don't know about the laws in Italy. In Britain, here's what can happen: You are caught on the train without a valid ticket, and your address is recorded. You get a letter to pay a small amount quickly, say £20, or a larger amount, say £40 if it takes longer. You don't pay. You get a letter advising you that you really should pay £80. A month later you get a letter that you should really, really, pay £120 or you will be taken to court. Then you get a letter to please come to the court. Whether you go or not, you may then be ordered by the court to pay £600. It happens to people.

If you are an EU citizen, then I would definitely pay up. If you are not an EU citizen, and ever want to come back to Europe, then I would pay up.

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