Motorway tolls in Europe

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No road charges are required in the following European countries: Andorra, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Ukraine.

In other countries there are two main kinds of road pricing imposed on vehicles, usually in addition to the compulsory road tax. Vignette is based on a period of time instead of the usual road toll method based on distance traveled, and is currently used in several non-English speaking European countries.

Vignettes are used in Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland, while other types of road toll are being imposed on drivers in several other European countries. The small, colored toll-sticker is to be affixed on a vehicle, often personal of up to 3.5 metric tons maximum permissible gross weight (passenger car, motorcycle, travel trailer), using motorways and expressways, which indicates that the respective road tax has been paid. Prices for a regular annual vignette for passenger cars range from €30 to €150, depending on each country where they are being sold. They can usually be obtained at border crossings, gas stations and other labeled points. Additional tolls are usually levied for passing through certain motorway tunnels and bridges.

A toll road is a road over which users may travel over on payment of a toll, or fee. Tolls are a form of user tax that pays for the cost of road construction and maintenance, without raising taxes on non-users. The toll roads may be run by government agencies that have bond issuing authority and/or private companies that sell bonds or have other sources of finance. Toll road operators are typically responsible for maintaining the roads. After the bonds are paid off the road typically reverts to the government agency that authorized the road and owns the land it was built on. Like most government taxes it is not unusual for tolls to continue to be charged after the bonds have been paid off. There are several system throughout Europe to pay road charges. They vary from country to country, therefore it is advisable to check and stay updated all the time.

Electronic Eurovignette

The Eurovignette is a system to charge and control road user charges in Denmark, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Sweden. The vignette applies to HGVs with a total permissible weight of more than 12 tonnes on motorways and selected A roads. The electronic Eurovignette replaced the paper-based vignette system in 2008. The Eurovignette can now also be booked online conveniently – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you want to get information in advance on the road user charges to be incurred, please use tariff calculator. The charges for the Eurovignette can be viewed in table of tariffs. In addition, you can find which of the 800 points of sale suit you best by using POS finder.

GO toll

All vehicles with a maximum permissible weight of over 3.5 metric tons are subject to a mileage-based toll when using Austrian freeways and highways. The user must install the applicable on-board unit inside the vehicle, dependent on the toll service chosen, and register for this service.  A GO Box is required for use of the Austrian GO toll system. It is also possible to pay Austrian tolls using the equivalent German on-board unit. TOLL2GO should be used in this instance. TOLL2GO

TOLL2GO is a service run jointly by ASFINAG and Toll Collect, the German toll system operator. Once registered, drivers can pay Austrian tolls using the Toll Collect on-board unit (OBU). The toll fees are still billed separately by each toll operator. The TOLL2GO service is free to existing ASFINAG and Toll Collect customers. New customers (i.e. those signing an initial contract) pay a one-off processing fee of 5 euros. If you make the majority of your journeys in Switzerland and Austria you can enable your EMOTACH on-board unit for use within the Austrian toll system. The toll consortium EasyGo has been able to implement a one-contract interoperability solution for vehicles over 3.5 tons MPW. The EasyGo+ service means you can use a single on-board unit to pay tolls in Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. You just need to register your vehicle with one toll service provider – and you will then receive your unlocked on-board unit, ready for use. It’s as simple as that – EasyGo+.

LKW-Maut

Germany’s LKW-Maut (Lastkraftwagen-Maut, literally ‘truck-toll’) is a toll for goods vehicles based on the distance driven in kilometres, the number of axles and the emission category of the vehicle.
As much as 35% of truck miles traveled on Germany’s motorways (Autobahnen) are generated by foreign trucks. Facing an increased pressure from freight traffic passing through and needing an additional source of revenue for motorways maintenance and expansion, in January 2005 Germany implemented a distance-based toll for all trucks over twelve tonnes gross weight using the motorways. The toll is calculated depending on the toll route, as well as based on the pollution class of the vehicle, its weight and the number of axles on the vehicles. Certain vehicles, such as emergency vehicles and buses, are exempt from the toll. An average user is charged € 0.15 per kilometer, or about $0.31 per mile (Toll Collect, 2007).

Automatic log-on

Toll Collect oversees the toll collection on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany. Toll Collect has developed an automatic log-on system for truckers, based on a combination of GSM and GPS. To take advantage of the automatic log-on, truck drivers are required to register the freight company as well as each individual truck. After registration, an on-board unit (OBU) can be installed by an authorized Toll Collect partner. The OBU automatically determines the distance traveled on the toll route, calculates the toll based on vehicle class and toll rate information entered, and transmits the information to the Toll Collect center for processing via GSM (cellular) communication. Once the toll information is submitted to the Toll Collect center, a bill is generated and e-mailed to the driver or owner of the truck. German government paid for approximately 450,000 OBUs currently in use, and the truck drivers were responsible for covering their installation (UK Commission for Integrated Transport 2007).

Manual log-on

Alternatively, the truck drivers that rarely use German toll roads can log-on manually, at one of 3,500 toll station terminals, or over the internet. The log-on to a toll station terminal, located near motorway access ramp, is similar to purchasing a ticket. The driver enters the vehicle information, origin and end location. The toll station calculates the fees based on the shortest route within the toll road network. The system enforcement is based on 300 gantries equipped with infrared detection equipment and high-resolution cameras (able to identify the license plates of trucks). When a fee has not been paid and the GPS data is unclear, a charge for 500 km of travel is assessed. The level of the toll is based on the emission class and number of axles on the truck and on the distance traveled on the toll route. The Federal Trunk Road Toll Act assigns each vehicle to one of four categories, A to D, based on its emission class. These toll rates mean that trucks with the latest-generation exhaust systems and those that have been upgraded with particle reduction systems pay significantly less than high-emission vehicles. Users are required to make accurate declarations of emission classes (principle of self-declaration). Further information is set out in the “Guidelines for determining emission classes”

Emission classes as per Federal Trunk Road Toll Act

Category A Category B Category c Category D
S5, EEV class 1, S6 S4, S3 with PMK 2, 3 or 4 S3 without PMK, S2 with PMK 1, 2, 3 or 4 S2 without PMK, S1 and vehicles not assigned to an emissions class

PMK – particulate reduction classes are retrofit standards to reduce particulate emissions. The particulate reduction classes PMK 1 or PMK 2 will generally be considered for (heavy) goods vehicles subject to tolls.

Toll rates per kilometer

Category A S5, EEV class 1, S6 up to 3 axles 0,141 €
up to 3 axles 0,141 €
Category B S4, S3 with PMK 2, 3 or 4 up to 3 axles 0,169 €
4 axles or more 0,183 €
Category C S3 without PMK, S2 with PMK 1, 2, 3 or 4 up to 3 axles 0,190 €
4 axles or more 0,204 €
Category D S2 without PMK, S1 and vehicles not assigned to an emission class up to 3 axles 0,274 €
4 axles or more 0,288 €

A tandem axle counts as two axles and a triple axle counts as three axles. Lift and suspended axles are always taken into account, regardless of whether a vehicle axle is used or lifted (i.e. without road contact) during transport. Parties liable to pay tolls are required by the Federal Office for Goods Transport to submit appropriate documentation to substantiate all information relevant for toll collection. For all trucks registered in Germany, the vehicle registration certificate or motor vehicle tax statement serves as sufficient proof of a vehicle’s emission class.
Emission classes of vehicles registered outside of Germany are assumed based on the vehicle’s age. This rule applies unless the emission class can be proved by some other means, such as through a statement of compliance with the specific environmental standards set forth in the ECMT*-Traffic (Art. 9 Lkw-MautV). The burden of proof for all matters relating to tolls lies with the toll road user. Failure to produce supporting documentation is subject to a fine.

European Commission for a single European Road Toll Service

In 2009 the European Commission adopted a decision setting out the essential technical specifications and requirements needed to launch a European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) which will enable road users to easily pay tolls throughout the whole European Union thanks to one subscription contract with one service provider and one single on-board unit. EETS will be available on all infrastructures in the entire Community such as motorways, tunnels and bridges where toll can be paid using on-board equipment. EETS will eventually limit cash transactions at toll stations, thereby improving traffic flow and reducing congestion. Electronic toll systems were introduced in several European countries in the early 1990s. Most systems operate with an on-board unit communicating the vehicle’s characteristics to the road operators in view to determining the toll, for instance based on the vehicle’s weight and size. However, the various national and local electronic road toll systems are generally incompatible and can only communicate with their respective on-board units. These non-interoperable road toll systems especially hinder international road transport. For example, to travel from Portugal to Denmark five or more on-board units might be needed on the vehicle’s dashboard, each unit being covered by a particular contract for a particular road operator. For the transporter this entails time-consuming paperwork and costly administrative burden in reconciling travel data, received invoices, contracts clauses and payment orders. EETS will be available within three years for all road vehicles above 3.5 tonnes or allowed to carry more than nine passengers, including the driver. It will be available for all other vehicles within five years. Directive 2004/52/EC lays down the conditions for the interoperability of electronic road toll systems in the European Union. The Directive requires that all new electronic toll systems brought into service shall use one or more of the following technologies: satellite positioning (GNSS); mobile communications (GSM-GPRS); microwave technology (DSRC).

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