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A tolling system describes the way in which tolls are collected for the use of traffic routes. There are currently four types of toll systems: Free flow systems, closed systems, open systems and vignette systems. These can occur as an integrated system, as is the case in Germany, for example, with the Free Flow system. In Poland, on the other hand, there are three different toll systems, caused by different toll operators.
Free Flow is the latest system for determining tolls. To collect tolls, stations (e.g. existing traffic signs) are set up which are equipped with electronic recording devices and can thus determine the passing vehicles and their vehicle class. In order to be recorded by a recording device, toll trucks require an on-board unit (OBU). The Free Flow system then calculates the distance travelled based on the recorded passages and, in combination with the vehicle type, automatically calculates the amount to be paid.
Each country has different factors (e.g. total weight, axle load or emissions standards) to calculate the toll amount to be paid. In Germany, the factors axle load and emissions standards, as well as the number of tollable kilometres and the respective road type are taken into account. Further information about other European countries and their toll prices can be found in a different article.
The closed system uses a kind of ticket system (similar to a multi-storey car park).When you enter the closed system, you draw a ticket, which you return when you leave the system. The ticket contains, among other things, information about the place of entry, with which the amount to be paid is calculated and due at the place of exit. As with the free flow variant, the amount is made up of various factors. As a rule, these factors consist of the distance travelled, the type of road used and the vehicle category. The closed system is used in parts of Poland and France.
In open systems, the toll is due when passing through fixed toll stations located within certain sections of the route. The amount is independent of the distance travelled, but depends on the vehicle categorisation. This system is used for example in Norway.
In the vignette system, a certain amount is due for the purchase of a vignette, which is based on the vehicle classification and the corresponding period. The distance travelled and the frequency of use are irrelevant during this period. The vignettes are purchased either in advance (before the journey) or on the spot (during the journey). In the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden, for example, the system is used in the form of the Euro vignette.
More detailed information on the respective countries and their truck toll taxation can be found in the article about toll in Europe.