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Barrier-Free Tolling on the M50

Surviving Dublin's Orbital Motorway


We all know that trolls live under bridges. As these fantastic creatures are rare in Ireland, road authorities have instead introduced tolls on some bridges and motorways. And to provide a fairy-tale ending, toll barriers have been scrapped on the notorious M50 ringroad around Dublin. But there is a twist in the tale - since there are no toll booths any more, you might fall foul of the authorities and incur hefty penalties.

Here are some questions and straightforward answers regarding barrier-free tolling on Dublin's M50:

The Toll-Booths are Gone ... the Tolls too?

No, God forbid! Road tolls have become such a cash cow that we'll probably never see the end of them. Doing away with the barriers wasn't about killing the proverbial goose (of golden eggs fame). It was about streamlining the egg-laying process, long-term.

With no Toll-Booths on the M50, how do I Pay?

There are now three ways to pay - by buying an electronic tag, by pre-registering or by paying as you go. In the first case a tag will be placed in your car window and you simply stop worrying. In the second case you register your details and allow the authorities to debit your account once your number is noted down. In the third case you’ll have to do all the work yourself after using the M50.

But the Costs are all the Same?

No - the toll for a car is € 2.10 with a tag, € 2.60 with pre-registration and € 3.10 otherwise (2014).

How Does the System Work Then?

When crossing the Liffey on the Westlink toll bridge you will drive under a gantry with an array of cameras. These will take a photo and send it on for processing if no (or a non-matching) tag is recognized.

For untagged but pre-registered vehicles a debit process will then be started.

All other road users will be kept in the system until the toll is paid - via the website, by phoning 1890-501050 or 01-4610122 or by using "billpay" services. If the toll is not paid in time, expect hefty additional costs.


What Advantages Does the Tag Have?

Its easy, tamper-proof and a bargain. You’ll have to learn to live with "Big Brother", though. And occasionally check up on his bookkeeping.



When Should I Simply Pre-Register?

If you are not a fairly regular user of the M50 Westlink you may opt for the pre-registration and higher individual toll. but one word of safety advice - "cloned" numberplates are easy to obtain, you might get hit with tolls you did not cause. Check the system regularly once you are registered.



Why Should I Not Pay as I go?

It will cost you - and you are likely to forget paying in time. Which may lead to additional costs and even legal proceedings. As to privacy ... your numberplate will be registered anyway.



I am Driving a Foreign-Registered Car ... Should I Bother at All?

You better - there already is a full data exchange in place between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Data from other countries will also be available, so even tourists on their way straight to the ferry might get a surprise in the mail weeks later.



What About Rental Cars?

Rental cars will be more than likely subject to a blanket agreement between the authorities and the car rental provider. Meaning that an average toll cost will be included in your rental fee and that you will not have to bother with the Westlink toll. Enquire when booking or picking the car up.



Where Can I Find Out More on Road Tolls in Ireland?


On the dedicated website www.eflow.ie or on the website of the National Roads Authority.

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