Tolls and low emission zones in Spain and Portugal
As a ‘roadsurfer’ in Spain you don’t have to register for a toll system and can decide whether to use a free motorway or a (private) toll road, called ‘Autopista’.
If you use an ‘autopista’, you can pay the toll by credit card or cash when leaving the toll road.
Similar to Spain, motorways in Portugal are toll roads (but there is always a free expressway). On most routes, you can simply pay the toll conventionally at the exit. The time you are allowed to spend on toll roads is limited, spending the night at a rest stop is not advisable. Unfortunately, there are also road sections that only use video tolls you have to register to in advance. There are different possibilities to do so, depending on the duration of your journey:
With foreign license plates (roadsurfers with German license plates):
- EASYtoll (travel duration up to 30 days)
The EASYToll system is suitable for stays of up to 30 days and for entry via an electronic toll motorway. At the “Welcome Points”, located at the electronic toll motorways near the border (A28 – Viana do Castelo; A24 – Chaves; A25 – Vilar Formoso; A22 – Vila Real de Santo António), insert your credit card into the payment device. Meanwhile, the machine will assign the license plate number to the inserted bank or credit card for 30 days. The receipt serves as proof of payment and must be kept throughout the journey. The credit card is automatically charged with the toll and an administration fee of 0.32€ per driven route section as well as a one-time activation fee of 0.74€.
- TOLLcard (stay longer than 30 days)
For travelers staying longer or more frequently in Portugal, the so-called TOLLCard, is valid for one year. It can be purchased at the border crossings mentioned above, in any branch office of the Portuguese Post Office (CTT), online and in tourist information offices for 5€, 10€, 20€ or 40€. It is activated as soon as an SMS is sent to the number shown on the card, indicating the license plate number. When the credit is almost used up, an SMS alert is sent. In addition to the toll, there is a one-off activation fee of 0.74€ and administrative charges of 0.32€ per section driven. The account balance can also be checked online, and it is possible to activate several cards.
- TollService (less than 3 days)
The TOLLService system, where the toll is paid in advance, is suitable for short stays. The prepaid ticket for vehicle classes 1 and 2 is available in two versions: Either as valid for any number of journeys within 3 days for a cost of 20€ plus the one-off activation fee of 0.74€, or as valid for a pre-defined route (e.g. Faro airport to the Spanish border) and topped up with the matching amount plus the one-off activation fee of 0.74€.
With Portuguese license plates (road surfers licensed in Portugal):
If you drive through a purely electronic toll station with a Portuguese license plate without transmitter, you have the option of paying the open toll in no earlier than 48 hours and no later than 5 days after passing the toll station at any post office, quoting the license plate number. The toll can also be paid online.