Portuguese toll roads: An expensive mistake!
We don’t often use toll roads but as the days are flying by and we only have a few weeks left of this adventure we decided to take the toll roads up to Porto. The toll system is notoriously complicated and often catches out “foreigners” – us included it so transpired.
The first part of our journey had the tolls where you take a ticket on entry and then pay by cash or card on exit at a machine or manned booth. So far so good. However on the next part of the route we found ourselves joining a road that had electronic tolls only. On this type of road you pass through gantries that have APNR cameras on them. As far as I can tell the options for payment in this case is either paying at a post office or purchasing a prepaid toll card at certain fuel stations. We bought a €20 card from the next fuel station and immediately followed the instructions for online activation.
A few junctions later we were confronted with more ticket tolls but assumed that we could now drive through the Via Verde lane and use our prepaid card at the exit – WRONG! You must not use the Via Verde lane unless you have the correct electronic tag. As soon as we had driven through we realised our error but obviously couldn’t go back and get a ticket. We foolishly thought we would be able to explain and pay at the other end – WRONG! We were greeted by 2 very grumpy Portugese booth attendants who informed us our only option would be to be pay €98 cash or wait until the bill came to our home – we didn’t have that amount of cash on us and I’m not sure I would have felt entirely comfortable handed over that amount of cash in any case. So Mr Grumpy told us we would have to back up out of his line and drive through the Via Verde lane again. Not easy when your vehicle is 7.4m and the car behind refuses to move. As you can imagine this did little to improve Mr Grumpy’s mood!
So it would seem that even though we immediately realised the error of our ways we have no means of rectifying it or paying post event and our left with no choice but to await a fine landing on our doormat. Not a very happy souvenir from Portugal! I think we will be giving the Portuguese toll roads a very wide berth in future!
After some online research we learnt that after a couple of weeks it’s is possible to put your details into the Via Verde website they will then email you with the amount owed plus administration charge (fine!) in our case €2.20 toll plus an eye-watering €45 administration fee – still cheaper than the €98 in cash Mr Grumpy Toll Attendant had asked for.
Lesson learnt – plan better and give the Portuguese toll roads a wide berth!