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Motorways & Tolls in Spain

- Updated: 16/01/2013
Motorways & Tolls in Spain

Driving on Spanish motorways can be surprisingly straightforward – they are nowhere near as congested as their counterparts in the UK, and this alone can often take the sting out of having to pay for the privilege of using them.

Additionally the Service stations seem to be a little confused. Has nobody told them that they are supposed to be smelly and dirty places where the food and drink (not to mention petrol) are dramatically overpriced and of questionable value? It seems not – instead the prices seem to differ very little from in regular Café’s and Bar’s and the fayre offered is actually served warm, resembles food, and is edible.

Once foreign drivers using Spanish motorways can get over the obstacle of having to pay to use them they will find many that they have many advantages : Better quality and cheaper service stations; less congestion; FREE access to motorways around major Towns and Cities; High speed limits compared to the N roads etc…

But what are some of the disadvantages that a driver from the UK may notice – and may need to be aware of ?

An obvious one maybe, but the Toll booths themselves are situated to the LEFT of the car, which can cause problems for a lone traveler in a RHD vehicle, particularly if they are scrabbling around for change.

Another is the fact that at night there are no road lights, which can often take some getting used to.

Road signs (or rather lack of them) together with the total lack of planning when it comes to constructing junctions is often an issue – quite often you can see exit signs placed after the junction as opposed to before !

The cost of a journey can also be an issue if you are travelling a long way – for example a trip from Valencia to Barcelona ( approx 400 kms ) can cost around 40Euros, payable at 5 Booths and to 3 different Motorway Agencies.

So how can you make this easier on yourself ?

The Company which oversees the various motorway agencies in Spain offer an electronic device called the Bi-Model - also known as the VIA T – the major difference being that the former can also be used in France.

The Via-T device is fitted in the windscreen of vehicles, but the Bi-Model device is fastened to the registration plate. Users of these schemes have the benefit of being able to use a special lane, which means that the vehicle does not need to come to a complete stop – just slow to slow to 30km at the tolls (usually to the far left and clearly marked “Via-T”).

Discounts of between 5% and 50% can also be applied - depending on the stretch of motorway you use, the number of journeys that you take per month and distance of Journey covered – it all adds up !

A credit period of 6 to 8 weeks is also given to users of the Bi-Model / Via-T device, which is usually better than frantic searching for loose change or a debit card – often at a time when you just want head off and complete your journey.

Both of the Via-T and Bi-Model units are rented from the motorway company, and when ordering them you must state the license plate numbers and number of axles present on each of the vehicles that are to use the units. The order must be accompanied by a copy of the vehicle’s product description and the registration certificate.

There are more than 20 individual motorway agencies in Spain, each with its own network across the region, and it wise to check the website of the agency whose network(s) you will be using the most to see which agencies they have reciprocal agreements with, and how you should go about ordering one. In almost every case the devise is ordered and paid for at the local branch of a national bank and the monthly fees are deducted from your account by direct debit.

Those who speak a passable amount of Spanish can also buy/rent a Via-T device online by clicking the link >>HERE<< .

Comment on this Article

 
Has there been a change in policy? I checked with Bi-Model suppliers last year and they only supply the Bi-Model variant to HGVs. I have tried to get Tele Pass for France, but was told that my Belgian and Spanish bank accounts were not acceptable. I do not want to pay in £s for my tolls this would be more expensive. If no other solutions are available I will stick to paying with a Euro based Visa card; the queues are not that bad.
Don Bruce - Mon 15th Jul 2013
I already have a sanef toll tag, but need a Spanish tag, could you advise.
Paul Prestwood - Mon 15th Jul 2013
Thanks for the update David, we will post the link in the above article for the benefit of future visitors.
Tumbit - Admin - Wed 16th Jan 2013
Thanks for the link. This allowed me to click on another link - http://www.pagatelia.com/ - which led me to being able to purchase a TAG online.!!!! All done and paid for. You can choose an auto top-up by Bank Account, Credit or Debit Card. Thanks Tumbit - Success.!!
David - Wed 16th Jan 2013
Yes, that's just bad luck David that Lloyds don't participate. If you opened an account with one of the other banks which offer the service, you would have to be satisfied that the benefits outweigh any additional account charges. Probably not if you are only an occasional user. But we find it indispensable for example when travelling at peak 'salida' times over a long weekend, there will be 5 queues of cars tailed back waiting to make manual payments. All we do is slow to look for the illuminated blue T then sail through, it's worth every cent of the low annual renewal fee.
Mike Drury - Tue 15th Jan 2013
David : If you click the link >>HERE<< it will take you to the webpage of AUSUR (Regional Motorways Operator) which explains (In Spanish) which organisations supply the VIA T, and how to subscribe to one. OIt seems that Lloyds does not particpate in this scheme.
Tumbit - Admin - Tue 15th Jan 2013
Trying to obtain a VIA-T Tag, is most frustrating. My Bank (Lloyds) can't get them. I have called at various CEPSA petrol stations and asked for one - in Spanish - and they no nothing about them. Does anyone know where I can purchase one, please? I fully understand that they are linked to a credit card or bank account.
David - Tue 15th Jan 2013
Thank you for all your advice.
Don Bruce - Thu 30th Aug 2012
Don, hopefully you have a bank account in Spain because it's regarded as the equivalent of a credit card. The bank handles the paperwork, applies for the device and you collect it from the bank. I see you must have an account if you have a Spanish credit card. It takes about 2 weeks. Thanks for info about Bi-Model, pity about that. I held up a queue of at least 15 French holiday makers trying to sort things out with a remote voice in French. Turned out the toll ticket must have been faulty. Not my favourite situation.
Mike Drury - Thu 23rd Aug 2012
Thanks for your comments. I have been in touch with several companies who supply the Bi-Model but they are only for trucks and other vehicles above 3.5 tons. The UK Sanef seems to have quite a high exchange rate so I will probably stick to my Spanish credit card (No exchange rate) which works fine, but there are still queues on busy days. I will try and get a Via T in Spain when I am down next. Where is the best place to purchase/rent one of these?
Don Bruce - Thu 23rd Aug 2012

Earlier this month we drove up to Germany from the south of Spain and our Spanish VIA T (TAG) worked on the first two tolls into France on the A63 towards Bayonne but not afterwards.

Not everything went as smoothly as usual with our credit card payments at the tolls in France so we switched to cash. I'll check in to see if I can change our VIA T for a Bi Model before our next trip to France. With reference to our VIA T which we keep in the dashboard and hold up as we pass through tolls, rather than keep it on the windscreen, it works seamlessly right throughout Spain.

Mike Drury - Thu 23rd Aug 2012
Has anyone have a Bi-Model fitted to a saloon car and used it in both Spain and France ?
Don Bruce - Wed 22th Aug 2012
Not all Banks issue them. I have just had a reply to my email, mine - Lloyds International do not. I guess it's off to the nearest CEPSA fuel stop, then.!
David Stringer - Mon 27th Jun 2011
You can't buy a device online - just at a Bank - but the website of AUSUR, who issue and operate them is attached here - http://www.ausur.es/pantallas/via_t.html#Señalizacion
Toby Jug - Sun 26th Jun 2011
Website links would be useful - if avalable.
David Stringer - Sun 26th Jun 2011
Can anyone confirm the value of savings to be made from such a scheme ?
Paul Coulson - Wed 24th Nov 2010
I've used a TAG for some years and it really is the way to go. Order one from your bank, they treat it as a credit card and you'll pay monthly through the bank for your journeys. I've travelled all over Spain and my TAG works everywhere. I look on the toll charges as a kind of pay as you go insurance, the peajes are much safer than the national roads especially the A7 down on the Costa del Sol where I do most travelling. It's worth doing the paperwork needed for the TAG and you'll enjoy the feeling of sailing past the long queues at the toll booths especially at the height of summer!
Mike Drury - Fri 20th Aug 2010