Toll roads are roads that drivers must pay to use.
Many major new road developments are funded through Public Private Partnership. This means that the funding for the building and maintenance of the road comes from the Irish State and from private businesses.
These private businesses charge money for vehicles to use the roads that they have helped to build, and the charging is carried out through tolling.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) oversees the implementation of tolling in Ireland. TII also has responsibility for planning, supervising constructing and maintaining all national roads.
TII can charge and collect tolls from vehicles under the Local Government (Toll Roads) Act, 1979. For a new toll charge to be introduced, bye-laws must be introduced.
The registered owner of a vehicle is legally responsible for paying the toll, which means that you may be fined or prosecuted for not paying a toll, even if you were not driving the vehicle.
New toll road schemes
Each time a toll scheme is proposed for a road, TII must:
- Publish a public notice informing citizens in the area about the proposed road
- Produce a Draft Toll Scheme that must be available for one month
- Serve a notice on the local authorities in the area where the toll road will be located
Objections to the scheme must be made in writing on or before the specified date.
The Draft Toll Scheme for a particular road and its accompanying Explanatory Statement will be prepared in accordance with the statutory provisions of the Roads Act 1993, as amended by the Planning and Development Act 2000.
If objections to the Draft Toll Scheme are received and not withdrawn, TII will arrange an oral hearing. The report and recommendations of the person appointed to hold the hearing will be considered by the Board of TII before deciding whether to adopt the Draft Toll Scheme.
TII may adopt the Draft Toll Scheme with or without modifications or may refuse to adopt it.
The decision of TII on the Toll Scheme proposal will be published.
Exemptions from toll charges
Certain vehicles are exempt from toll charges, including vehicles belonging to and used for official purposes by the Defence Forces, vehicles used by An Garda Síochána, fire brigade vehicles and ambulances.
Vehicles adapted for disabled drivers or passengers are also entitled to an exemption from toll fees.
The new Disability Toll Exemption Scheme (DTES) allows drivers of qualifying vehicles to travel toll free on all Irish roads using their DTES disc. Only one application is needed under this scheme, which has been in operation since 3 February 2020.
To qualify, your vehicle must be eligible for tax relief under the Drivers and Passengers with Disabilities Scheme.
You can apply for a DTES disc, and read more information about the rules of the scheme on dtes.ie.
If your vehicle is adapted and qualifies for tax relief, but you have not applied for a DTES disc, you can still travel toll free by going to the manned tollbooth and showing your tax disc.
How to pay a toll charge
Generally, toll charges are paid at the barrier to the toll road. You can either pay in cash, or by using an eToll tag. For the M50, if you do not have an account you must pay online, by phoning Locall 1890 501 050, by using the M50 Quick Pay App, or through Payzone outlets.
To get an eToll tag, simply contact one of the companies that provide electronic tolling tags. If you have a complaint about a toll road operator or your electronic tag provider, you should contact the company to find out how to make a complaint.
The toll rates for the toll roads are available on tii.ie.
If you are registered for VAT, you can reclaim VAT paid on tolls.
Electronic tolling (eTolls)
Electronic tolling uses a small electronic tag that is placed in the vehicle and is detected each time your vehicle passes through the toll. The toll is then debited against the customer's account. The electronic tolling system automatically recognises the correct toll for the class of vehicle you are driving.
There are a number of companies providing electronic tags to motorists. All these providers use the same system, which means you only need one tag for all tolling facilities. Information on suppliers of electronic tags and the different types of tag accounts is available at etoll.ie
The M50 operates a barrier-free tolling scheme called eFlow. This allows all motorists to pass through the toll at motorway speed. There are a number of ways you can pay the tolls, including using an electronic tag from eFlow or another supplier. Charges varying depending on the method used. You cannot pay the toll with cash at the M50, but the toll must be paid by 8pm the next day. You can find out more about the toll scheme at eflow.ie.
Dublin Port Tunnel
The Dublin Port Tunnel imposes a toll on cars, taxis, motorcycles, vans and light commercial vehicles only. Commercial vehicles above 3.5 tonnes laden weight and buses with more than 25 seats do not pay tolls.
What happens if I don’t pay a toll?
If you do not pay your tolls, these tolls and penalties can be recovered through a criminal or civil procedure.
You can be charged with an offence for not paying your toll or not obeying the instruction of a person authorised to manage and operate a toll road. The penalty on summary conviction is a fine of up to €5,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months, or both.
On the M50, the bye-laws set out penalties for those who fail, refuse or neglect to pay toll fees. These are as follows:
- Initial default – penalty charge of €3 (to be paid on top of toll charge)
- After 14 days – additional penalty charge of €42
- After further 56 days – additional penalty charge of €105
- Total fines per passage – €148
The amount of tolls and penalties due are recoverable as a contract debt.
The registered owner of a vehicle is responsible even if they are not driving the vehicle.
Further information and contacts