How to Pay the Tolls on Dublin's M50 Orbital Motorway

Surviving Dublin's Orbital Motorway

M50 at Night
••• Allythacker / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0

Road tolls on Dublin's M50 orbital motorway have been made easier -- you drive through and pay later (or in advance, see below). But it still is a confusing issue for motorists using the Liffey bridges.

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 on this motorway anymore, you might fall foul of the authorities and incur hefty penalties.

How to Pay Now

There are now three ways to pay: buying an electronic tag, 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 (all registration plates are automatically recorded when you cross the Liffey bridge on the M50). In the third case ... you’ll have to do all the work yourself, within a few hours of using the M50. The toll for a car is € 2.10 with a tag, € 2.60 with pre-registration and € 3.10 otherwise (2015 prices).

How the System Works

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 any "Payzone" outlet.

If the toll is not paid in time, expect hefty additional costs.

Note that you can also prepay your road tolls -- this is especially handy if you pick up a rental car at Dublin Airport and then head South on the M50. There are Payzone outlets at the airport, but you'll have to know your rental car's registration first!

Advantages of the Tag

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

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" number plates are easy to obtain, you might get hit with tolls you did not cause. Check the system regularly once you are registered.

Why You Shouldn't Pay as You 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 number plate will be registered anyway.

Driving a Foreign-Registered or Rented Car

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.

Rental cars may be 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. On the other hand ... they may not, and you'll be responsible for all payments. Make sure to enquire about road tolls when booking or at the latest picking the car up.

More on Road Tolls in Ireland

You can learn more on the dedicated website or on the website of the National Roads Authority.