At the end of 2011 Portugal introduced its first electronic toll road, the A22 parallel to the Algarve coastline. Now there are many of these roads across the entire country and more being established year on year. This map shows the current locations of toll roads in Portugal.
So how do electronic toll roads work?
Instead of having pay booths which can slow down traffic and have people rooting around in their cars looking for spare change, cameras automatically identify your car. You are then charged for the roads you use. Look out for the signs (shown in the above picture) and the gantries with cameras overhead which will indicate you are entering an electronic toll road.
How do I pay the charges?
There are several different ways to pay.
Tollcard - Tollcards can be purchased online or at service stations and are then activated by using text messages so you will need a mobile phone that works in Portugal. You will need to text your licence plate and credit card numbers. The downside to this system is that you could leave Portugal without using all of your credit.
Easytoll - This system enables you to link your credit card to the licence plate so it can be automatically charged. You can sign up at Welcome points at many border crossings. The Easytoll can also be bought at dispensing machines at some service stations. You will be issued a ticket as proof of purchase and your registration is valid for 30 days. If you are in a hired car - make sure you call to cancel the membership when you leave.
Tollservice - This is a prepaid ticket valid for 3 days which allows unlimited use of the toll roads. You can also buy prepaid tickets for specific journeys for example from Spain to to Faro Airport. These are available at several service stations and at Porto and Faro airports as well as through the CTT Post Office.
Bear in mind that these options do not qualify you to drive through the Via Verde lanes on the toll roads which are not electronic. You will need to pay at the booths.
If you do not want to pay in advance, there is the option of paying after you have used a toll road. You can pay from 2 days after your journey up until the fifth day. If you are late paying, however, you will be liable to fines and possibly admin charges. Note: This facility is not available to those driving foreign-registered (non-Portuguese) vehicles.
Payment can be made at all Post Offices(CTT) or at shops designated specifically as Payshops. Although the Payshop website is in Portuguese, if you select Pagamento de Portagens and the location you are in in the box in the bottom left hand corner, it will give you the addresses of local Payshops.
These box devices are frequently already installed in your hire car. The tolls are paid by you to the car hire company at the end of your hire. If one isn't installed, they can be hired from CTT Post Offices, Via Verde stores and many service stations. Alternatively use the pre-payment options but avoid Via Verde lanes on the non-electronic toll roads.
When you hire a car in Portugal it is important that you ask your car rental company how tolls are to be paid.
If you do not have a transponder in your hire car, hire one yourself or pre-pay, then the bill will go to the car hire company and you will face a larger than necessary debt for the tolls, fines and admin charges.
More information is available from Portugal Tolls
This content was last reviewed on 07/09/2016