International Road Signs
What Are They Trying to Tell You?

I'm planning to rent a car in Italy. I’m worried about international road signs... should I be? --Jack V.

I wouldn't worry, but you should be prepared. International road signs MAY be different from what you're used to.

You see road signs all the time driving at home, but...

You may not pay much attention to many of the informational ones because you know...

--the rules of the road,
--where to park,
--where the pedestrian streets are...

But you're probably not familiar with any of the above in a new destination.

Now you're driving in a foreign country.

You have a rental car, and you don't want to break a law.... and even though those road signs are international and intuitive, you may not be familiar with them AND you may not think at first that they are all that intuitive!

What do International Road Signs mean?

What does that circle with the slash mean? .....No entry?

No stopping.... No parking??

Or what???

You'd better have a basic understanding before you rent that car.... or at least know that you're looking for something different.

While there are basic international road signs, they can vary slightly by country. There are too many for us to list here, so it's best to check a guide book or a map that can help you interpret them or check below.

Some advisory signs may even make you laugh... We've collected photos of a few roadsigns that have confused or amused us... but take them seriously; know what they mean so you don't screw up.

International road signs may be different than you're used to at home... and they may be not only in a different language, but maybe in a different alphabet! The first road sign we saw in Greece was.... well Greek to us!

Road signs-Greek to Me

OK that can be a challenge, but even if the signs are in a familiar language, they can come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors..... stay alert, learn what to look for in each country.

Direction roadsign to Glasgow from Butte International roadsigns - Zebras and tourists get direction in Namibia

roadsign to Rosthay Scotland

Sometimes the signs use a combination approach... direction and information... and remember, they are coming at you stacked on top of each other as you're speeding down highways or negotiating narrow roads.

Direction and information sign Italy International road signs in France

Those red triangles with the cute pictures inside are caution signs... laugh if you want, but warthogs do nibble grass on the side of the road....

Warning sign warthog

...sand in a desert like the Namib may seem obvious, but it can blow across the road and make the road slippery and hard to see....

Warning roadsign Kudu - Africa International road signs-Caution Sand in Namib Desert

....and you definitely want to be on guard for a kudu (or deer or moose or kangaroo) bounding across the road.... Hitting one could ruin your trip.

Information sign Pantanal Brazil

Sometimes warning signs take on a different shape.... though I can't imagine a Giant Anteater jumping in front of you on the road.

International warning sign - coyotes

Even when you're looking for them, some may leave you wondering....

A friend of ours driving in Death Valley, California wondered if this drunkenly leaning sign meant no feeding drunken, red-nosed coyotes or just what.

Seriously, you've got your rental car, you drive out of the rental lot and you face those international road signs for real... in a foreign language... or a symbol... Do you know what they mean?

  • Can you pass here?
  • When do you need to slow down?
  • Can you park here?
  • Can you even drive down this road?

What ARE these?

OK.... These are:

    1) No passing
    2) No entry
    3) You have priority over oncoming traffic
    4) Closed to vehicles, and
    5) No stopping.

If you didn't know what they meant, find a good map or guidebook for the country you'll be visiting.... one that gives you an explanation of their version of international road signs. Take it with you when you drive.

You can also check with your automobile association like the AAA for some help with the basics. And here's a site on Icelandic Traffic Signs that's a great example of the wide variety of international road signs you might encounter and what a different language might look like (if you don't speak Icelandic).

Since colors and shapes can vary for speed signs, warning signs, caution signs, information signs, prohibitory signs (stop signs), and all the rest, it's best to get good information about the signs in the country you will be visiting.

While the authorities may be sympathetic to tourists, you'll be lucky if you get off with advice and a warning..... they can give you a ticket if you break the law. Just do a little research, pay attention, and you'll have a great time.

If you liked our site, why don't you go ahead and us.

Need a little more info on international road signs? We'll make it easy for you to search:

Happy travels... even if you don't travel the world... just remember that life is a journey... embrace and enjoy it!   Judy and Mark

Go to Amusing Australian Road Signs  Share Amusing or Confusing Roadsigns
Return from International Road Signs to Rental Car Tips
Return from International Road Signs to MouseToursTravels Home Page

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Did it help with your travel planning and preparation? Eager to leave on that next vacation? Please leave your tips or comments in the box below.

Ready For A New Adventure?
How about a website of your own...
... work for yourself ... or...
Exercise your brain in retirement.
Follow Your Passion
Who knows where it will take you?
(Look around at where it's taken us!)
Click below to start your own journey
First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life

Already have a website or blog with WordPress? Make it better!


Search MouseToursTravels
Travel questions or destination info?
Find our answers faster...

Related Searches


We want you to feel comfortable out in the world and on our pages - so surf away in your own language...

Timely Tips

The Holidays are Here!

Time to remind you we have tips on
Surviving Holiday Flights

Remember, if you’re carrying gifts, it’s better not to wrap them… airport security might make you open them!

Have time for a quick trip to prepare for Christmas? We have ideas...
European Christmas Markets
German Christmas Markets
Seiffen Germany Makes Christmas Decorations
Cold Weather Packing List

Christmas  Market Nutcrackers

How about gift Ideas...

Buy travel gear for yourself or a friend…. Shop, the leading online retailer of luggage, handbags, backpacks, and accessories They have anything a traveler needs... moneybelts, security purses, TSA approved locks, packing cubes for organization, and more.

…Or just take the holiday time to explore more pages here and get ideas for travel destinations and how to get there.

NOW is the time to start planning for a great trip next year.

Find, Compare & Book It!

We always say shop and compare at several sources. Here are some of our favorites...

25+ Million Users Trust TripAdvisor With Their Travel Plans. Shouldn't You?

Cheap airfare, hotels, car rentals, vacations and cruises at!

All the best hotel sites in one place right here. Hotels Combined...
HotelsCombined logo

We are not travel agents, but we're affiliated with these and other great companies.
Check 'em all out!

Follow Your Passion!

Travel Is Our Passion
What's Yours?

We have lots of fun traveling... and we've had lots of fun creating this website. It earns us money too! No get-rich quick scheme here.... just honest pages about our travels. Is this something you've ever wanted to try?

Are you passionate or knowledgeable about something? An expert even?

Cars ...or... cooking?
Boats ...or... business?
Plants ...or... parenting?

Turn it into a web business. Click on the SBI TV icon below and learn how a new life could be yours...

Learn how to build your own profitable web site like we did

Look at it... Think about it...
Why NOT you?

If you're like me, you like to talk to a real person and get answers to your questions... We get that!

Your Questions Answered Here.

Honest answers... honestly ...Promise!

Two Ways To Like Us!
Like Our Site Top Left
Like Our Fanpage Below
Thank You!