Description and History

The E-road network is an international system of route designations stretching throughout all of Europe and into Central Asia. The network includes over 150,000 kilometers of roads and includes every regionally important road in Europe. It is the largest network of signed route designations in the world. The system was originally discussed in the 1950s Marshall Plan era as something akin to the US Interstate system. Pared down and changed from a motorway system to simply route designations, the network was created on paper in 1975 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in Geneva.

Because all E-roads are simply route designations, each country signs them in their own way.
Some nations like Belgium, Sweden, or Norway sign them exclusively at the expensive of their
own national road numbers. Some nations such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, do not sign
them at all. Most nations simply add the E-road number to their own systems. The official
E-road marker is a green rectangle with the route designation in centered in white,
including the "E".

In December of 2001 the E-road network was extended into Central Asia and the Caucausus
nations. The brought E-road designations all the way to the Chinese border. Kazakhstan is the
only Central Asian country to extensively sign them.


(Click thumbnails for larger)
Map showing only major (x0 or x5) E-roads
Map showing the entire European E-road network, without shields.
Detailed map of the E-road network. (Click for 2.5 MB PDF file)


North-South major routes are numbered with two digits and all terminate with the number 5. East of the E99, north-south major roads are three digits ending in 5. East-West major roads are also two digits, and end with the number 0.

Intermediate roads are two digit odd or even numbers and comprise a grid system. They are numbered with reference to the nearest major route, and generally the numbers go higher the further east and south the number is.

Branch, link, or connecting roads have three digit numbers. The first number is that of the nearest major route to the north, and the second is that of the nearest major route to the west. The third is simply a serial number. East of the E101 they are three digit numbers beginning with 0, from 001 to 099.

There are many exceptions to the numbering system. E-roads underwent a renumbering process in 1985-86, in which Scandinavia did not participate. The reason for this was that Sweden and Norway had integrated the E-road numbers into their highway system to such an extent that the cost of renumbernig would have been prohibitive on such long routes. Thusly, many routes in Scandinavia do not necessarily fit into the current system.

Listing of all E-roads. Endpoints and cities of reference (source: UNECE)   HOME

An Example of E-road signage in Belgium (Click for large image)