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New toll on Algarve motorway A22

December 8, 2011 – 11:29 am

Today is the first day for the new toll on the A22 road in Portugal. This is the continuation of the Sevilla-Huelva motorway, the A49, after it crosses the bridge over the river Guadiamar after Ayamonte, and carries on into the Algarve.

Many residents of western Andalucia are up in arms, not least because they will have to pay to use the motorway in neighbouring Portugal, with its wonderful beaches. But most people are annoyed because of the lack of information, and the complicated charging system, which I will try to explain here. The name of the toll collection system is Via Verde, whose logo is a white V on a green background – look out for it on signs and in shops.

The details were only published on the government’s website, and in the state newspaper, Diario da Republica, on Monday. This is because the president passed the highly controversial new legislation which introduced the tolls just a few weeks ago, after months delays – since the PM resigned in April. Which explains the mass of last-minute misinformation.

This is not a toll road where you pay directly at a booth, which is why it’s so unfathomably hard to get concrete facts on who will have to pay what, where, when and how.

Therefore, because of all the conflicting reports, it could well be that I don’t get all my facts right right in this post (nobody’s perfect, not even me). In which case, please let me know and I will try to produce a correct and comprehensive guide. A shining beacon of light in the murky darkness of Portuguese administrative chaos.

First of all, the widespread rumour – as seen on some ill-informed expat websites – that you will have to pay 77 euros every time to cross the border into Portugal is WRONG because a) that fee is for lorry drivers, and b) the toll starts at Vila Real/Castro Marim (junction 9 if you have an older map which calls the road the E-01/IP1; junction 18 if it says A22).

So, in theory, you could cross the bridge into Portugal and then leave the motorway on the first exit (to Vila Real de San Antonio, the first town over the border, which sits across the Guadiamar river from Ayamonte on the Spanish side) when you get into Portugal – the N122 road, which then links up with the N125. (This road runs parallel to the coast, and is therefore more picturesque, but also busier and slower, especially in the summer. Also, it won’t be able to cope with the increased traffic, and accidents are bound to increase.) And you’re on the Algarve scot-free, so to speak.

If you only go to the Algarve occasionally, and do want to use the motorway, short-term pre-pay schemes are available. A three-day pass costs 20 euros. You can make the payment using your matricula at a Portuguese post office (CTT), at Via Verde pay shops, at some airports, or at certain petrol stations in motorway service areas such as the one in Olhao (although according to some sources, this will be introduced later on).

The rate charged for using the motorway is 0.07 or 0.08c/km, which works out at 8.89 euros for the 127km stretch from Vila Real on the Spanish border, at the eastern end of the Algarve, to Lagos in the west.

If you’re not a Portuguese resident but you travel on the A22 regularly – or if you don’t want the hassle of paying at a post office every time – you will you probably want to rent a temporary dispositivo electronico (DE, electronic transponder device), for a refundable deposit of 27.50 euros. This charges you every time you pass a toll point. The rental charge is 6 euros for the first week and 1.50 euros for each week hereafter. The device can be rented for up to 90 days, and then re-rented.

When you buy the DE, your details are taken – matricula, DNI, bank card number etc – so you they can charge you every time you use the road.

Those who are visiting the Algarve on holiday and renting a car (all rental cars will be fitted with transponders) will have to pay at post offices or Via Verde pay shops. For more information, talk to your car hire company. Although my bet is, they won’t have much of a clue either.

Legally registered Algarve residents can pay a reduced fee – these don’t apply to part-time residents – until the end of June 2012. Apparently, these reductions don’t apply to business users.

The Portuguese government obviously needs to fill its coffers, to sort out its economic situation, but driving away one of its main sources of income – the tourists, especially ones from Spain – seems barmy to me. Like Andalucia, the Algarve has the highest unemployment in the country, so fewer visitors is the last thing it needs right now. Not to mention the other way round – many Portuguese come to Andalucia as visitors.

If you have used the new system – on a trip to the Algarve during the December puente, for example – please let me know how you paid, and whether it was straightforward/clearly explained/enough to put you off using the motorway ever again.

  1. 32 Responses to “New toll on Algarve motorway A22”

  2. Thanks for explaining this Fiona. I always remember once getting my hire car onto an expressway in Melbourne and wasting hours trying to find out how to pay. Never been back.

    By Bert Selby on Dec 8, 2011

  3. You’re welcome, Bert. Although I’m not 100% confident that I’ve got it 100% correct!! So I really hope people who’ve used it will give their feedback and tips.

    By fiona on Dec 8, 2011

  4. I can only say good luck to the visitors from Spain. We are confused and we live here! Can you imagine the queues at the Post offices as people try to pay? How are they going to track down foreign-registered vehicles ? Will the Spanish authorities really co operate to identify the vehicles who have not paid? I can empathise with your anger. PiP

    By PiP on Dec 8, 2011

  5. Each year I become even more determined to be without the worries of owning (and maintaining and running and repairing and parking) a car in Andalucia. Now I have yet another reason never to drive in Spain or Portugal.

    By lesley on Dec 8, 2011

  6. I’m not really angry, PiP, just bemused at the total incomptence of the Portuguese government. They make the Spanish look efficient. I saw reports on the TV news last night showing motorists bombarding the Portuguese officials with questions, and payment machines not working. Total chaos. Rumours here are that it’s going to be scrapped imminently.

    By fiona on Dec 9, 2011

  7. If you can get by without one, Lesley, better for your bank balance and the environment!

    By fiona on Dec 9, 2011

  8. If you are travelling from Spain then the first overhead cameras on the A22 are after Junction 17 for Monte Gordo. It looks as if we can exit there instead of VRS Antonia and travel on the N125 toll free instead – can anyone confirn this?

    Our house is near Huelva in Spain but we fly to Faro airport and then spend a number of weeks in Spain without going to Portugal until our trip home – driving a Portuguese hire car. We don’t want to pay to rent a transponder as it’s expensive over a number of weeks if we are not in Portugal. Can anyone explain how we can ‘pay as we go’ as we will be in Spain or the UK the day after using the toll road so can’t get to a Portuguese post office.

    By Jax on Dec 12, 2011

  9. Thanks for this Fiona. We booked our Christmas flights from Faro as it worked out to be cheaper, but then I found about the toll! So I’m relieved to find out it won’t be 77 euros. Just need to find one of the Via Verde places now before we go.

    By Clare on Dec 13, 2011

  10. Clare, Via Verde places are (I think) only in Portugal, but someone told me you can pay at a Portuguese bank here in Spain, Caixa General? Will look for info. Also these two pages are both quite good, one for how to do it, and the other for how much it costs.

    By fiona on Dec 13, 2011

  11. Jax, re where to exit the motorway to avoid paying, it is as I said in the post – leave at the Vila Real/Castro Marim exit and join the N125, as far as I am aware. If I find out more info on paying at Portuguese banks in Spain, I will let you know. Or see other replies to comments on this post.

    By fiona on Dec 13, 2011

  12. Clare, latest (from a friend who went last wk, and is going back again next week, also to get plane from Faro). You can pay at Post Office in Faro airport (need ID and car matricula), or at border where there is machine. She says it’s 20 euros for 3 day pass, even if actual charge between first toll (Vila Real exit) and airport is only 5 euros. All well dodgy. Suerte!

    By fiona on Dec 13, 2011

  13. Thanks very much for that Fiona! I’ll have a look at those links. Have a great Christmas.

    By Clare on Dec 15, 2011

  14. You’re welcome, glad to be of help, I’ve had various people providing their experiences (thanks, Juliet!) though I’m aware I can’t give definitive, first-hand info on this one, which is annoying, as that’s what I’d prefer to do! Still, hopefully soon it will become clearer what is the best way to do it, where, when etc.

    By fiona on Dec 15, 2011

  15. A lot of optimism here – I am a frequent UK visitor to the Algarve, arriving Faro – renting car, driving to Lagos.
    Before Christmas – none of the system you have all described accurately was in place so I drove my hire car up the A22 to LAgos and back and wait to receive my fine.
    More importantly I rented a car Jan 4th – tried to find somewhere to rent the transponer and gave up after four attempts [there aren’t any available] – tried to pay at the \ctt retrospectively – they know nothing. Got on the flight last night, sent my credit card details to the MInister of Transport in Lisbon telling him I had done my best to pay but his system could not help me so if he would like to take the trip details from the system and charge them to my card – please go ahead.
    I don’t know where the idea of all rental cars being fitted [post above] came from but i can assure you they are not – and they have no intention of doing so, and there are not units available.
    Honestly – you couldn’t make this up.

    By mike robbins on Jan 6, 2012

  16. Hi Fiona, thanks for all the advice. In the end we popped over the bridge while we were staying Ayamonte and paid for the toll at a ticket machine which looks a bit like the kind you get in a car park. It’s around 11 euros to and from the airport (just over 5 each way). I can imagine it will be very busy there during the summer months!

    By Clare on Jan 13, 2012

  17. Thanks for reporting back, Clare, all first-hand information is useful!

    By fiona on Jan 15, 2012

  18. What is the charge from Faro to Alvor on A22?

    By noelhelly on Jan 16, 2012

  19. I drive into Portugal in early Sept each year for 6 week stay in our motorhome at a campsite near Lagos. Then back out again at the end. Whilst there we use our bikes. What is the economical option for us re tolls if we keep using the A22?

    By Paul on Jan 24, 2012

  20. Have a look at this thread on our forum, Paul, you should find the information you need there.

    By fiona on Feb 16, 2012

  21. Can I suggest you take a look at this threadon our forum?

    By fiona on Feb 16, 2012

  22. I drive to France Spain, and Portugal evry year I pay toll charges when ever I come a cross them but in Algarve Portugal on the A22 there is no way am going to spend my holiday time looking for a Post office or any other method to pay a toll ,am on holiday to relax not stress my self to pay it’s to complicated let Portugise authoraties send me a fine I pay by electrinic transfer.
    Be sides I cross the border late Saturday night am sure Post office is closed then .

    By Chris Andrews on Mar 8, 2012

  23. Hi I have a similar problem to Alan. We have a town house at Costa Esuri in Ayamonte but we fly to Faro and hire a car from there. Is this gonna be chaos?? Thanks, we are going on the 25th and totally forgot that this new toll thing would be in place!

    By Sarah on Mar 12, 2012

  24. Brill info, just wondering about traveling from alvor to fatima what I will encounter. picking up rental at faro airport, any pointers would be much apreciated. tomo

    By tom seery on Apr 2, 2012

  25. @JAX. You are correct, you can cross the Spanish border and leave at junction 17 (Monte Gordo) with no toll fee.If you’re unsure of this advice you can check on the toll payment module situated next to the border office (where all the police cars are parked up), this will confirm.

    By Thomas Scaife on Apr 19, 2012

  26. HELP!

    We knew none of the above and happily drove in to Portugal from Spain on the A22. We looked for signs and saw none that we understood until well in to Portugal and passing the gantries with the detectors.
    At our hotel we asked how we could pay our tolls retrospectively and sent to the post office who said as our car was Spanish registered we should just “forget it”
    What do we do now??????

    By Mike Tait on May 18, 2012

  27. map with toll camera locations

    By Pietje P on May 24, 2012

  28. Thanks, Pietje!

    By fiona on May 24, 2012

  29. Picked up hire car at Faro Airport on Friday afternoon last week and drove A22 to Lagos. Went into Lagos Post Office on Monday afternoon. No record of the car having been on the motorway. Therefore couldn’t pay taxes. Advised by CTT clerk to try again on Tuesday. Although dealing with officialdom isn’t something I enjoy on holiday I found myself outside Vila do Bispo CTT on Tuesday and thought I’d try again. Still nothing showing. I was given a ready prepared Declaracao which read “Para os devidos efeitos declara-se que o Sr.- com o Passp. – esteve presente na Estacao de Correio de – pelas -h -m, para efectuar o pagamento de taxas de portagem relativas a passagens realizadas nas datas e nas vias concessionadas abaixo referidas, encontrando-se as mesmas indisponiveis para pagamento na presente data.

    Matricula Veiculo – Concessao – Data de Passagem

    Adverte-se que, nos termos do disposto no no.5 do artigo 17o da Portaria no. 314-B/2010, na sua redaccao actual, a impossibilidade de cobranca das taxas de portagem e dos custos administrativos associades.”

    Signed by the CTT clerk and stamped with their date stamp.

    Now, from my point of view the form is very handy but what a lot of official effort to recover absolutely no charges whatsoever!

    Incidentally, motorway was very quiet and I had a swift, uninterrupted journey. But (like a lot of other people it would seem) I probably won’t use A22 again. Time that is saved on journey from Faro to Lagos can be spent chasing around trying to pay taxes. I’ll take the old road next time and get on with what I’m visiting for – enjoying myself.

    By Colin on Jun 23, 2012

  30. Just found this website where you can pre-pay but it still looks a bit confusing. Like I am visiting in September and for the first week will be driving a minibus swapping for the second week to a car but the pre-pay car will already be registered to the minibus? How can I be assured I get the same minibus/car next time a visit?
    Why are they so pre-occupied with the vehicle registration what does it matter as long as the vehicle has a valid payment device. The only reason they need the registration number is for the address for the bill for non-payment to be sent. Why are they renting the electronic devices? They should take a look a the DART card for crossing the Thames or the Oyster card payment system for London Transport.
    Too complicated.

    By Alan Robinson on Jul 26, 2012

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    By fiona on Oct 4, 2012

  33. Fiona,
    I traveled on the road recently and was by a shuttle driver told that now all the hire car companies simply charge the toll back to the clients credit card.

    I was also told that if the car is Spanish plated, and has not paid, the Portuguese have no authority whatsoever to obtain the owners details from the Spanish DGT. (This is because this charge is not a toll but a tax. Apparently EU would not let them put a toll on the road as EU had helped fund road construction in first place.) He appreciated that some silly tourist like to stop and pay the fee to sleep at night.

    Either way in practical terms no need to do anything other that drive arround.

    By Chris on Aug 6, 2014

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