Road Tolls in Norway
Road tolls are in place on certain roads in Norway, but the system is somewhat different to those used in countries such as France.
In Norway, as far as we could tell, road tolls are used to pay for major road works. The tolls are not permanent and an updated list of toll roads is published periodically on the autoPASS website – autoPASS is the main toll system in use throughout Norway.
Tolls can crop up on quite minor roads – they are not restricted to major roads. However, they are not especially frequent. Toll prices are pretty reasonable for vehicles under 3.5 tonnes and 6m in length.
To give you an idea of toll costs for a sub-6m van, we paid 450NOK (about £50) in tolls for 4,700 miles driven in Norway. My autoPASS report lists 20 tolls, so that works out to an average cost of £2.50 per toll.
For motorhomes over 6m/3.5t, tolls are approximately 2-3x more than they are for sub-6m/3.5t motorhomes.
How To Pay For Road Tolls In Norway
Visitors to Norway can register for the Visitors’ Payment system on the autoPASS website before travelling, which is what we did.
All you have to do is enter the dates of your visit (allow an extra day or two at each end, just in case) and register a credit card. You then make a deposit payment of 300NOK (about £33 at 2011 prices), which will be refunded if you don’t spend that much in tolls.
Setting up a Visitors’ Payment account allows you to drive through the automatic payment lane without stopping at the vast majority of tolls. No tag or vignette is required – the toll cameras use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). Tolls are automatically deducted from your account balance and if that reaches zero, your card will be debited again.
Ninety days after your visit period ends, any remaining balance is credited back to your credit card and you receive, by email, a report listing all of the tolls you paid and the credit card payments you made.
The autoPASS website has both English and German pages and the whole system is excellent and very easy to use. I would highly recommend it as the vast majority of tolls are fully automated with no manual payment option.
If you do choose not to register before you go, the ANPR toll cameras will photograph your registration plate anyway and you will be invoiced for the tolls, via autoPASS’s UK collection agency. There is no avoiding the tolls, although the system is quite slow – most tolls are charged about 3 weeks after you drive through them, but a couple took almost 2 months to be charged to my credit card.
Update 02/12/2011: It seems that the autoPASS system is not quite as efficient as I thought. I recently received a penalty notice through the post from Euro Parking Collection (EPC plc), the UK company that collects tolls, fines and so on in the UK on behalf of autoPASS (amongst others). The penalty was for non-payment of a toll – road, date and time were provided. The fine was about 15 times the cost of the toll. As far as I can tell, the problem is that the local toll company in that area was so slow to bill autoPASS that my Visitors’ Payment agreement had expired before they had managed to collect the toll.
Given that autoPASS allows 90 days after the end of your Visitors’ Payment agreement for final collection of tolls, this is impressively slow. I have followed the (simple) appeal procedure provided by EPC and await further developments. I am hoping that the fine will be cancelled and I will just have to pay the toll (£2.17). I will update this page as and when I find out more.
Update 02/02/2012: Having followed the appeals process as detailed above, today I received a letter from EPC telling me that the fine was being cancelled but that they reserved the right to reopen the case if it turned out that I had misled them or that they had received incorrect information. Fair enough.
It looks like I won’t have to pay the toll, either – presumably because the cost to the Norwegian toll company of collecting the toll from me would be far greater than the toll itself.
For more information or to create a Visitors’ Payment account, visit www.autopass.no.
Ferries In Norway
Norway’s rugged and watery scenery means that fjords and impassable mountains often block the way. Tunnels and ferries are the Norwegian solution to this problem and many roads are interrupted by ferries. Even the main north-south highway, the E6, has a ferry at one point.
To the British mind, these ferries may seem like expensive extravagances, but look carefully at the map and you will find that generally, there is no sensible alternative. Ferries are an accepted part of the road network and local drivers appear to use them as such.
(Tunnels are even more common than ferries but are mostly toll free, so I won’t discuss them other than to say that they are usually good, but older ones can be quite dark.)
Ferry services are usually fairly frequent and run for most/all of every day. Shorter crossings run several times an hour and all the ferries we went on were modern ro-ro type vessels. If you are very unlucky, you may end up waiting an hour or so, especially in summer when the sheer volume of tourist traffic makes them very busy.
Prices for motorhomes under 6m are the same as for cars and you pay per passenger, too (excluding the driver). I believe that prices for vehicles over 6m rise considerably, but the sub-6m rates we paid were fairly reasonable. For example, in June 2011, a 15 minute crossing typically cost around 100Nkr, including one passenger.
To give you an idea of how widespread and essential these ferries are, we went on 18 vehicle ferries while in Norway.