Getting a ride in Sigonella

Getting a ride in Sigonella

by Stripes Europe
Stripes Europe

Whether your shipping your car from back home or buying a new one while stationed at Sigonella, Stars and Stripes Europe has everything you need to know. 

SHIPPING YOUR VEHICLE OVERSEAS

  • Ship your vehicle at least 6 to 8 weeks before you PCS to ensure it gets here soon after your arrival to Sigonella.
  • Decide between selling your other vehicles, keeping them in storage or leaving them with a friend or family member.
  • A max of three vehicles are allowed per active duty member along with their dependents during their tour in Italy.

GETTING YOUR ARMED FORCES ITALY (AFI) LICENSE

Call the Motor Vehicle Registration Office (MVRO) for driver’s testing. Be sure to ask about test days and times.

What to bring to get your AFI license:

  • Current U.S. driver’s license (It is highly recommended that you renew your license so that it does not expire during your tour.)
  • PCS orders/DOCPERS MFR (contractors)/Logistical Support Letter (DOD civilians)

BUYING A CAR IN ITALY

You have the option to buy a new or used car from dealers and private sellers in Italy. There is no tax when buying a vehicle from another military member.

Keep in mind

  • Any vehicle that doesn’t meet U.S. specifications (specs) cannot be shipped back to CONUS.
  • Used automatic transmission vehicles may be more difficult to find and tend to be more expensive.
  • Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s (MWR) Auto Skills shop offers a free 30+ point assessment that will tell you everything you need to know before buying or selling a vehicle.   

MOTORCYCLES

If you want to ride a motorcycle while in Italy, you must have a motorcycle classification on your U.S. license, have an AFI license, attend a mandatory motorcycle safety course on the installation and be at least 18 years old. Motorcyclists can only operate a motorcycle of 35 kW or less.

VEHICLE INSPECTION

Each vehicle is required to be inspected periodically depending on its age, in addition to every time the title is transferred. Ensure that your vehicle always has the required equipment at all times, not just for its inspection.

Required equipment for inspection:

  • Vehicle registration
  • First-aid kit, warning triangle and reflective vest

REGISTERING YOUR VEHICLE

  • Contact the MVRO for vehicle registration days and times
  • What to bring to register your vehicle:
  • POV registration application
  • AFI driver’s license
  • U.S. driver’s license
  • Military ID
  • Shipping document
  • Proof of ownership
  • PCS orders/DOCPERS MFR (contractors)/ Logistical support letter (DOD civilians)
  • Funds to cover the registration fee and applicable road tax for a second vehicle to include motorcycles
  • Automobile insurance policy

Note: It’s always best to call the Motor Vehicle Registration Office ahead of time to ensure you’re bringing all necessary documents.

FUELING YOUR VEHICLE

Tax-Free Fuel Allowance

  • A NEX-issued fuel card, which acts as a debit card linked to your personal credit card, allows U.S. and NATO forces to pay for fuel at the current tax-free price at the time of purchase.
  • The vehicle's engine size, engine base, horsepower and fuel requirement determine the monthly fuel allowance.
  • The NEX administers the fuel card program. You must maintain your insurance, registration, safety inspection and road taxes to continue to receive your allowance.
  • If any one of these parameters are not kept current for any of your household’s vehicles, you will need to correct the issue and register for a new fuel card.

Where to get gas

  • There are no gas stations on U.S. military installations in Italy.
  • Only two Italian gas station companies will accept your fuel card: AGIP and ENI. Across Italy, there are over 4,000 locations and many near NAS Sigonella.
  • Use your fuel card like a debit card at the pump. It is recommended to pre-authorize your card before filling up to ensure your fuel card will be accepted.
  • At some stations, attendants will operate the card machines.
  • Fill up at “Fai da te” or “Iperself” pumps to avoid paying extra for full service.

OTHER WAYS TO GET AROUND

Taxis

  • A taxi from Catania to NAS I or NAS II will cost approximately 50 euros.
  • It’s always wise to agree on the price ahead of time.
  • Be sure to have the driver write it down for clarity.

Buses

  • AST and ETNA are the two bus companies that serve Sigonella from and to Catania. Both bus schedules can be found at the Fleet and Family Service Center front desk.
  • Short & Long-Distance Trains
  • Trains depart from Catania, Piazza Giovanni XXIII (train/bus station) to different destinations around Sicily and mainland Italy.
  • Visit www.trenitalia.it for time-tables and prices.

DRIVING IN SICILY

Driving habits in Sicily are considerably different from those in the U.S. While at first there may seem to be no logic to traffic patterns, a closer look will show that there are distinct rules of the road. Because of the speed of traffic and different conventions, alertness while driving is of the utmost importance. It is important to exercise the same caution in driving here as you would in the U.S.

A few notes to driving in Italy:

  • When a car behind you flashes its lights, move to the right lane as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • While horn blowing is technically illegal in many Italian cities, it is loosely enforced. Many people blow their horn to signal their approach at an intersection or their intent to pass. Drivers also commonly use their hazard lights to signal danger, especially during slow or stopped traffic.
  • The Italian law allows you to overtake traffic to pass.
  • Many intersections have no stop lights or traffic control. The vehicle on the right has the right of-way, unless there is a stop sign.
  • Traffic circles or roundabouts are common. When entering a circle, yield to traffic in the circle.
  • Drunk driving is an extremely serious offense in Italy. In Italy, a blood alcohol level of 0.05 is positive proof of drunk driving. If you are under the age of 21 or have been a licensed driver for less than 3 years, the legal limit for alcohol in your system while driving in Italy is 0.00.
  • NAS Sigonella has zero-tolerance for drinking and driving. A BAC of 0.05 and above onboard any NAS Sigonella installation will result in either administrative and/or non-judicial punishment (NJP).
  • If you experience an emergency on or off-base, call dispatch at +39-095-86-1911.  They will send proper assistance. For non-emergencies, call dispatch at +39-095-86-5225.

DRIVING OUTSIDE OF SICILY

Many countries will not recognize a U.S. or AFI driver’s license. You will need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) at least four weeks before traveling outside of Italy. You can apply by mail or in-person at AAA or the AATA, which are the two agencies authorized by the State Department to issue IDPs.

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