The Saga of the Portuguese Tolls – a User’s Explanation.

Discussion in 'Full Timers' started by billkce, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. billkce

    billkce Funster

    Apr 27, 2009
    Cabopino in Spain till May 15
    Hello Everyone,
    Whilst we were in Marbella last winter, friends and acquaintances transitting through Portugal regaled us with their adventures on Portuguese toll roads. They reported that it was very difficult to actually pay the fees. We heard stories of non-payment and worries that a fine would await them on their doormat in the UK. Posts on Motorhome Fun underlined this and the Portuguese bumff on the subject was unclear/ambiguous.
    I can now report that we have just travelled the length and breadth of the Portuguese road system and here is Bill’s idiot’s guide to Portuguese Tolls.
    There are 3 possible options:
    1. Don’t travel on toll roads – so if this applies to you – read no further.

    2. Use toll roads and DON’T PAY! This of course involves some legal risk. Although we have heard of no-one being fined retrospectively, there is nothing to prevent a passing policeman stopping you on a motorway and checking payment! Also, swanning through the VIA VERDE lane will result in an inability to exit the motorway … ticket or no VV arrangement– no exit!

    3. Pick up an ELECTRONIC TOLLS leaflet (see pic) and follow the instructions – given in English.

    I will now outline the 2 systems running in parallel in Portugal.
    1. Portagem Electronica. (RED) This operates only in the Algarve, from the northern border with Spain down to south of Porto and some northern internal routes. (See Pic.)
    You can pick up a leaflet a various but indeterminate motorway garages and post offices. I believe this is where most travellers’ problems lie. Getting hold of the leaflet and actually finding a garage that takes payment.
    We travelled from the Northern border and encountered the Portagem Electronica. It couldn’t be clearer. Very large signs in English warning that ELECTRONIC TOLLS ONLY applied. After every junction there was a huge overhead gantry with cameras and a large sign showing the toll per vehicle class. (Motorhome is Class 3)
    If you were a Portuguese national, then you would probably have signed up for Easy Toll or the VIA VERDE service. This connects your licence plate to a credit card and every time you pass through a toll camera – your CC gets debited. Simples!
    However, if you are just passing through, i.e. a tourist – it's slightly more difficult.
    1. You could rent an electronic device for the period of your stay. BUT, where do you get one? It's expensive and time consuming.

    2. You could buy a pre-paid toll card. BUT where to buy them? Internet? Post Offices? It's not easy.

    3. You could pay the toll at an appropriate motorway garage – BUT which garages take payment?

    We were lucky. I asked at the campsite and was told which garage to go to, which we duly did. On arrival, no-one spoke English and only looked mystified when I asked to pay! As luck would have it, though, a worker from the Toll Agency was having a morning cuppa in the café and explained the system.
    He said that ONLY CERTAIN garages took payment for Portagem Electronica. The only one he could identify was a garage just north of FARO in the Algarve. As for others – no joy!
    So, in summary, a traveller can only do his best. We paid once – more by luck than judgement. We tried to pay at a second garage but they didn’t accept payment. If you do get a ticket, display in window and keep for 30 days.

    So it seems that on the Portagem Electronica, foreign travellers just bumble along trying to pay and hoping they don’t get caught. It's not at all satisfactory but seems the norm. The Portuguese don’t seem to care and it's not at all certain that they can distinguish non-Portuguese number plates.

    2. Portagem Manual. (GREY) All other Motorways, but mainly south and east from Lisbon.

    This system is exactly the same as tolls elsewhere in Europe. One can pre-pay via the VIA VERDE system or other pre-pay cards. However, the best option is to Pay As You Go.
    Merely, go down the MANUAL PAYMENT lane at a PÉAGE and get a ticket as normal. It is clearly signposted.
    When you leave the motorway just pay via the automatic machines – cash or CC. There are rarely humans available to take money.

    1. Try and get a leaflet.

    2. Ask at campsites and garages for info re PORTAGEM ELECTRONICA. Do your best from there on in.

    3. Pay as normal on PORTAGEM MANUAL.

    4. To avoid any nonsense – stay off the Autovia!

    Hope this is useful. You’ll find the Autovia even quieter than in Spain!!
    Bill and Shirl

    Attached Files:

    • Like it Like it x 3
  2. JJ

    JJ Funster

    May 1, 2008
    Quinta Majay, Pinheiro Bordalo, Portugal
    Very comprehensive and informative. Thank you very much.

    I do want to add that some Spanish folk with close connections to a Portuguese company I know have been visiting Portugal very often and they travel through the Via Verde lanes on the traditional toll motorways all the time and never pay. :Eeek: (and so far have never been caught!)

    When on company business I do the same... but then I have one of those clever, electronic box thingies which is "sensed" by the Via Verde machine and we get the bill at the end of each month.

    Oh, and if your motorhome has twin rear wheels or a tag axle I am afraid to report you are Class 2 not 3. It costs the same on the new electronically controlled toll roads for my Hymer 660 as it does for our twenty ton truck.

    JJ :Cool:
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  3. darklord

    darklord Read Only Funster

    Apr 28, 2011
    there were some scare stories about the tolls at the Biarritz aire. this week, we have paid all the tolls requested, except the electronic ones. there is NO signage that i have seen in english telling you how or where to pay these tolls, so they can bill me inretsrospect if they like, i teckon I,m up to about £20-25 at the moment.
    people were telling me that the tolls wee horrendous and that it woudl cost an arm and a leg, not so, a lot rae only 2-3 euros, but i must admit i will feel a tad more comfotable paying them when all foreign visitors to the UK are charged a toll, otherwise I pay twice, they dont pay at all....thats the EU for ya:ROFLMAO:.

Share This Page