Jun 15

Dealing with electronic tolls and rental cars on Portugal’s highways

portugal tolls


Portugal’s electronic toll system has been causing frustrations for tourists and locals alike since 2013. Even now confusion persists mostly for the short term visitor because the electronic bill must be paid in very roundabout ways. 


What are your options with the toll roads before you get on them?


  • Generally one can avoid the toll roads with the many good free highways in every part of the country, but sometimes a GPS command or a wrong turn can send one whizzing past the electronic readers and in no time there’s a bill to your license plate.


  • If you’ve rented a car in Portugal you will likely be offered the transponder, an electronic device that adds the tolls to one’s rental bill. There is usually a 20 Euro credit which should be enough for short trips. However if you plan on covering a lot of roadway you need to consider how you will pay the rest. Read the options below.


  • If bringing your own vehicle from outside, or renting another from outside the country be sure and get a prepaid card. These cards can be purchased at toll road welcome points, some tourism offices and any post office. Cards can be loaded with a balance of 5, 10, 20 or 40 Euros. There is an option for a 20 Euro card for 3 days of unlimited access as well. Be mindful that one needs access to a mobile phone to send an SMS with the plate number and credit code to fill the account.


What to do if you incur a toll charge outside of any prepaid credit?


If you accidentally cross a toll point, or go over your prepaid card or transponder credit these are your options:


  • Wait 48 hours for your bill to post and go to the post office or payshop to pay the bill associated with your license plate.


  • Outstanding toll fines can be paid online here (since April 2016). There is a small processing fee, but it can be worth it rather than waiting around to go to the post office, trusting the rental company to pay your bill or facing the 25 Euro fine you’ll get hit with for failure to pay.




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