Tolls in the EU

Leonie Metzger  -  2019-07-08

We have gathered information about different toll regulations in the EU, so you can get on vacation even faster and easier.

What you need to know about toll regulations

Did you know that nine out of 28 countries in the European Union have a distance-related toll system? This means that drivers in countries such as France, Greece, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Portugal and Spain have to pay a fee to be able to use the motorway. This toll is calculated from the distance covered.

In eight other countries – Bulgaria, Austria, Romania, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary – you need a vignette for driving on motorways and dual carriageways. Vignettes are temporary, meaning you can buy one for just a few days, months or even for a year.

In addition, there are some EU countries that charge a special toll for bridges, tunnels and mountain passes. These are for examples Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Denmark and Sweden. You will have to pay these fees extra.

Tolls in the Alps: The costs of tunnels and passes

One of the most expensive routes to the south is across the Alps. It does not matter whether you have already paid a distance-based toll or purchased a time-limited vignette: many passes, tunnels, and bridges in the Alps cost extra.

The fee is based on to the length of a tunnel. Thus, you can pay from € 5.50 for the Austrian Bosruck Tunnel to up to € 44.40 for the Mont Blanc Tunnel between France and Italy. Why not calculate toll costs in advance to have a better understanding of your total travel costs.

Electronic toll

Increasing digitization has led to more and more countries, such as Portugal and Poland, using electronic payment systems on certain parts of the motorway. Here, the distance travelled is recorded via a transponder, which has to be acquired in advance. In Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, drivers need to buy an e-vignette.

In Austria, digital vignettes are available in addition to the traditional adhesive stickers since November 2017. You can order these online, yet you have to be aware that these vignettes are only valid starting 18 days after placing an order online or via the app. In London, Dublin and also north of Milan there are parts of the motorway, for which travelers have to register in advance on the Internet.

However, due to the digitization at toll stations, there are more and more technical difficulties with the payment systems. If you have not paid your toll correctly, you still have to expect additional demands and fines.

Toll violations

If you do not abide by the rules, it can quickly turn into a toll violation. Regardless of whether you didn’t buy a vignette or didn’t attach it properly to your windshield, you have to expect fines between 150 € – 800 €. Thus, before you have to pay a fine, it’s worth taking a quick look at the proper use of vignettes.

If you do not keep up to date as a tourist, digital toll systems can often catch you off guard, especially since there are always new developments. For example, did you know that more and more cities require an environmental badge? If you are travelling by car to one of these cities, you have to order this badge at least 15 days in advance.

Is there a toll in Germany?

Surely you have ever heard something about „tolls in Germany“. Since 2017, there have constantly been news on this topic. But what exactly is happening and what does it all mean?

The idea behind the introduction of the car toll is that car owners in Germany should participate in the costs of road construction and renovation. However, the toll is supposed to go hand in hand with the vehicle tax, so that German motorists technically do not have to pay more. Foreigners on German roads can choose whether they want to buy a vignette for ten days, two months or a whole year.

However, according to Austria and the Netherlands, this idea violates the European law of „Non-discrimination on grounds of nationality“. It is criticized that due to the concomitant motor vehicle tax in Germany, the costs are borne exclusively by motorists from other EU countries. On June, 18th 2019 the lawsuit was successful and the toll was declared illegal by the European Court of Justice. This means that there will be no tolls for the time being.

As you can see, the situation in Germany remains interesting. Discussions are not over yet.

Hence when going on vacation, we recommend you keep up to date with current toll charges. Thus, you will avoid sudden surprises, can plan your budget better and more accurately and you will arrive on holiday far more relaxed.