Disclaimer: This information is general in nature only. While Budget Direct has endeavoured to ensure the information we’ve relied on is accurate and current, we do not guarantee it. Budget Direct accepts no liability for this information.
Running into a toll road can be a nasty surprise, especially if you’re in a foreign country and aren’t used to having to pay them!
The use of toll roads varies a lot around the world, and they come in all different forms, whether it’s a one-off payment to cross a bridge or tunnel or an amount that’s charged depending on how far you travel.
The amount that you can expect to pay varies quite a lot too, so we’ve analysed tolls on over 400 roads around the world to see just which are the most expensive and cheapest.
Average tolls by country
In countries where tolling is more common, the amount that you have to pay is usually quite small, often just a couple of dollars, but in those where there are just a handful of toll roads, the fees can be much higher.
Take, for example, Switzerland, where (aside from an annual toll sticker) there are just two tolled sections of road, both of which are tunnels under the Alps, which have an average cost of 23.60 francs (AU$34.69).
On the other hand, in the United Arab Emirates, drivers are charged just AED 4 every time they drive through a Salik toll gate, which works out at just AU$1.42.
Australia's most expensive & cheapest tolls
Here in Australia, the most expensive road in the country is Melbourne’s CityLink network, where drivers pay up to AU$10.05 to drive the full 22km. However, following CityLink, the next seven most expensive tolls in Australia are all found in New South Wales, with the most expensive of these being the toll on the M4 section of WestConnex, where the maximum charge is AU$8.52.
But not all of Australia’s roads are quite so expensive to drive, such as the Military Road E-Ramp off the A8 in Sydney, which costs just AU$1.71 and the Logan Motorway, which costs as little as AU$1.78.
The UK's most expensive & cheapest tolls
Over in the UK, drivers are charged a £15 (AU$26.83) ‘congestion charge’ to drive in central London in an attempt to lower the city’s emissions, with the charge covering you for just one day, which is partly why so many choose to utilise the Underground.
The second most expensive toll isn’t actually one imposed by the government, but rather, by residents of the picturesque Sandwich Bay in Kent, who charge non-residents £7 (AU$12.52) to access their private road.
Many of the toll roads in the UK have existed for many years and only charge a nominal fee for access, such as the Swinford Toll Bridge in Oxfordshire, which is another privately owned toll road, which charges just 5p (AU$0.09) to cross.
The USA's most expensive & cheapest tolls
Tolls are much more commonplace in the US than they are here in Australia, with hundreds of roads, bridges and tunnels requiring a fee.
While some cover just a small stretch of tarmac, others can stretch for many miles, such as the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which will cost you an incredible $112.91 (AU$147.80) if you want to travel all 580km across the state.
That’s a big increase on the next most expensive highways in the country, the New York State Thruway (AU$36.72) and Florida's Turnpike (AU$34.63).
The cheapest toll in the US is that of the Boulevard Bridge, which is also known as the ‘nickel bridge’, and while it costs a little more than that these days, at $0.35 (AU$0.46), it’s still a much cheaper toll than other bridges in major cities such as New York, which can cost as much as $16.00 (AU$20.95) to cross.
The world’s* most expensive tolls
Of the 20 countries which we analysed, these were the roads with the highest overall toll. While some, including the most expensive of all (the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the US), were mainly so expensive due to the sheer length of the toll road, others, such as the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, which charges AU$59.40, are known for their natural beauty, so high tolls are imposed as the roads themselves attract tourists.
We looked at the toll for various toll roads and crossings around the world, sourced from Wikipedia’s list of tolls, as well as various other sources including the websites of the authorities administering the tolls.
The means of calculating and paying for tolls vary a lot from one country to the next, so we decided to look solely at the cost for a standard motor vehicle (two axles), taking the maximum toll possible, during peak hours and paying using cash, assuming that the driver was not from the area or eligible for any kind of discounts. If there were multiple tolls on a road, we took the amount that it would cost to drive from one end of the road to the other.
Unfortunately, reliable figures were not available for tolls in many countries, and in some, tolls are calculated depending on where you are travelling to and from, so these have also been excluded.
Figures were all converted from local currency using XE Currency Converter as of January 29 2021.