Motorway Tolls Algarve

The introduction of electronic tolls (with no pay booths) on the A22 Algarve Motorway, and other similar motorways in the north of Portugal has caused chaos, especially with visitors. Most people say they don’t mind the tolls, but object to the method of payment, especially for foreign registered cars. The problem is quite simply that these roads were not built as toll roads, so they have no space to build toll booths and as a result, the system has to be fully automatic.




Photo above; The Via Verde transponder

How it works: Toll payment is based on a small transponder which is linked to your Portuguese bank account, and debited within a day or two of every passage, which is fine if you are a resident with a Portuguese bank account.




Photo above: The electronic toll transponder machine at the Spanish border


The alternative is to pay your tolls at the Post Office or Pay Shop, which must be done within five days, but only after 48 hours have transpired. That’s ok if you have a rent-a-car with Portuguese plates, but you cannot post-pay your tolls if you have foreign number plates. The official answer is “wait until we write to you at your address back home”, the reality is that we don’t know anyone (yet) who has received such a letter. So, if you are a visitor, how do you pay, where do you pay, what will it cost?

If you are a visitor, arriving at the Spanish Border in a foreign registered car
At the border on the A22 you will find an automatic vending machine (see photo above). Here you can rent a transponder by entering your car registration number and your credit card. On your return you can drop off your ‘used’ transponder at the last service station (Olhao) where you will get part of the original cost refunded less a small rental fee. All tolls will be charged to your credit card. Should the vending machine be busy, you can also rent a transponder at the first service area on the motorway (Olhao).

You can also rent a transponder at any Post Office and from Faro Airport (in the Post Office),

Cost: It will cost Euros 27.50 (refundable less the rental charge). It is valid for up to 90 says. The rental cost is Euros 6 for the first week, and Euros 1.5 a week thereafter. Tolls are charged to your credit card.

Pre Paid Passes: If you have a foreign registered car, there are alternative options. Option One: You can purchase a pre-paid pass, valid for 3 days from any Post Office (and they are very clued up on the whole situation). A three day pass costs Euros 20 for a normal car, and is for unlimited tolls along the whole motorway for the three (consecutive) days you specify. You can only purchase six of these passes every year. You can also buy from any Post Office a one way or return journey pre paid ticket for a trip to Faro Airport.


Option Two is to purchase a five day pass, again from any Post Office, The cost is Euros 10 initially (or more), tolls must be pre-paid, so deposit enough to cover your expected journeys. As far as we can ascertain, you can only buy one of these, and you pay the normal toll charge, based on your journey. Refunds of unused tolls are possible, but we don’t know anyone who has tried! You will get a receipt which you should display on your dashboard, and keep in a safe place thereafter. One reader has told us that he has been told that the unused part of his payment will be refunded to his Credit Card automatically once the toll road concessionaires have calculated what he has used in tolls.

Beneath you will find guidance on how to buy these passes online


If you are planning to use a Rent-a-Car at Faro Airport
The rent a car companies have been in ‘consultation’ with the government for several months, but a solution seems now to finally being implemented. Full details are in the article beneath (Solution to car hire toll chaos), but in principle, the major rent a car companies are now in the process of installing transponders in all their cars. You can rent one (optional) much as you might rent a satnav system, and pay the rental fee Euros 1.5 a day, plus the tolls, direct to the rent a car company at the end of your rental period.

Above, the charge made at each toll gate (see map above for location). Class 1 is a normal car, people carriers, jeeps etc are Class 2. You are charged the above fee ‘sector by sector’ so as you pass through you are charged. if you turn off before the next ‘toll gate’ there is no further charge

Which Rent a Car companies have already fitted transponders? 
So far (12 April 2012) the companies who have already installed transponders on all their Faro Airport based cars are:


Key points
Foreign number plated cars cant ‘post-pay’ tolls, get a pass or rent a transponder
Buying a 3 or 5 day pass is a good option
You can get a simple single or return pass for the airport from any Post Office
Rent a transponder from the Post Office if you are staying for a longer period 

Online information in English
The Portuguese Post Office (CTT)Estradas de Portugal (Portuguese road authority)Via Verde (the eToll operating authority)

Please note that at the time of writing (April 2012), the online payment option is still under development, and you will need to register to use this facility. These sites are changing daily as they work on the online payment facilities. The registration part of the site (to get a password and username) is still in Portuguese, though its not difficult to understand if you want to do everything online. The first site above (CTT) is the place to start, and to register look for this “Se ainda não está registado clique aqui” its on the right, and its the last option. Click on the word “aqui”. On the form the first questions are obvious, where it says ” Tipo de Cliente:” leave it as PARTICULAR (private), Morada means address, “Telemovel” means your mobile number, “Genero”, select if you are male or female. This is all the obligatory information needed that’s not easy to understand.


The above information was provided by The Portugal News – Paul Luckman – our thanks

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