Toll motorways

Many parts of the motorway network are free to use, but there are some stretches where tolls apply. Most of these are in rural areas, where motorways were built in large amounts using a mixture of public and private financing - the decision to apply tolls here was to help recoup the costs of construction.

Tolls also apply on parts of the M50 Dublin Ring Road, as well as a number of river crossings across the country.


Where are the toll motorways?

Tolls apply on the following stretches of motorway:
   -  M1, between junctions 7 and 8;
   -  M3, between junctions 5 and 6, and between junctions 9 and 10;
   -  M4, between junctions 8 and 9;
   -  M6, between junctions 15 and 16;
   -  M7, between junctions 18 and 20/M8 jct 3;
   -  M8, between junctons 17 and 18;
   -  M50, between junctions 1 and 2 (Dublin Tunnel), and between junctions 6 and 7 (West Link Bridge)

Tolls also apply to the N18 Limerick Tunnel, N25 Waterford Silver Bridge and R131 Dublin East Link Bridge.


How much am I expected to pay?

Toll rates are surprisingly low given the distances sometimes involved. For a typical car, rates are typically somewhere between €1 and  €3. Much higher rates apply for peak time "with flow" traffic through the Dublin Tunnel.

You can find out current rates for all vehicle types at the eToll website.


Using the toll motorways

All toll motorways are signposted Ireland Road Toll Symbol.png, so you'll always know beforehand that a toll section is coming up. This is the case both on the motorway itself, and at junctions and on their approaches. If you choose not to follow Ireland Road Toll Symbol.png, free routes are always available, usually using the old road that the motorway has bypassed.

As tolls are a flat rate regardless of distance travelled, you'll only encounter one toll booth.

When you approach a toll plaza, signs will tell you what payment methods are accepted:

manned booth
card or cash accepted
cash accepted
change not always given
cards accepted electronic toll tag accepted

At the plaza itself, look at the overhead signs - a green arrow indicates that the lane is open, and will be accompanied by additional symbols that tell you which payment menthods are accepted. If there is a red cross, then that lane is closed.

There are some toll plazas that have lanes dedicated to electronic toll tags users only, so make so make sure you don't use these lanes unless you have a tag (we'll discuss this further later). They are indicated beforehand by way of purple panels on approach signage, similar to that shown above.

Overhead signs at the M3 toll plaza, showing accepted payment methods and closed lanes. Click to see full size image.

The M50 toll

The tolled section of M50 operates in a different manner to other tolls. Instead of the traditional pay-at-booth method used on other motorways, vehicles pass under number plate recognition cameras which are supplemented by purple overhead signage advising of the charging point.

As this is a barrier-free toll, anyone using this stretch of road will be required to pay for use before 8pm the following day. This can be done at the eFlow website. Failure to pay by the deadline will result in penalties being levied!

So what's this eToll all about?

eToll is an electronic payment method, which involves placing a small electronic tag in your vehicle's windscreen. By using a tag, users don't need a supply of change, as payment is taken from a designated bank account on a monthly basis via direct debit.

Another advantage is that many toll plazas have designated express lanes, so there's no need to queue up behind those paying on the spot. Normally, you would be able to proceed through the lane at a steady 20km/h without the need to stop at all. Tag users also get a discount when using the M50.

There are options available for those making regular trips, or just the odd journey now and again. You can sign up for an account, which debits your account on a monthly basis, or you can even request a pay as you go tag which works by topping up your credit in a similar way to a mobile phone.

For further information on eToll tags, and to apply for one, take a look at the official website.

Photos on this page are by Benreis, and are used under a Creative Commons 3.0 licence