There is still confusion as to procedures for visitors renting a vehicle and using the A22 Motorway. The A22 which runs from the Spanish border in the east to Lagos in the west became a toll road in December 2011 exclusively using electronic toll stations to read car number plates. Until 30 June 2012, Algarve car hire companies are expected to pay a fee and collect a toll tax locally from anyone renting a vehicle. From 1 July 2012, an electronic device should be fitted to all rental vehicles with tolls being charged directly to the drivers’ credit card along with a small fee for renting the device.
Having rented a vehicle from Faro Airport in mid May 2012, this is certainly not the case. The rental company stated that they had not received any official notice from the Portuguese government and as such it is up to drivers to pay for tolls locally if using the A22. Payment has to be made at a Post Office between 2 working days and 5 working days after using the toll road. So what happens when returning a vehicle to Faro Airport and flying home? In my case the deposit I had paid for any damage to the vehicle was kept in case toll charges accrued. However I had not used the A22 during the visit and took the advice of the car rental company to use the N125 instead which added considerable time to a journey. The N125 already had a bad reputation due to a high number of accidents and poor road surface and has now become even more congested with increased use by local and holiday drivers who refuse to use the A22 and pay a toll.
The situation is further complicated with the European Commission declaring the tolls illegal under EU law following a formal complaint made by the city council of Aveiro and asking the Portuguese government to change the law on charging tolls.
Until the situation is resolved it is very important to fully understand where your rental company stands on paying tolls on a vehicle especially when returning to Faro Airport before flying home.