Ka desire for queues at the toll station? Then there is a toll box. These are small devices the size of a matchbox that are stuck to the inside of the windshield behind the rear-view mirror and are used to automatically pay tolls or route charges. And already, as if by magic, the barriers on the lanes marked with a “T” (for Tele-Maut) in Italy, for example, open.

In Germany there is no domestic provider of such transponders due to the lack of route tolls. Of course you can still buy them. The two market leaders are the ADAC Mautbox, behind which is the Italian Autostrade SpA with its German partner maut1, and the French provider Liber-T, whose system is sold in this country under the name Bip&Go. There is also the Tolltickets system, which belongs to the Austrian Kapsch Group, which also set up the truck toll in the Alpine Republic. We compared the three:

In which countries the toll boxes work

There is no difference between ADAC/maut1 and Bip&Go. Both toll boxes work in four countries: France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Alternatively, at Bip&Go you can also book a slightly cheaper variant without Italy.

None of the toll boxes work in the other five EU countries with distance-based tolls: Greece, Ireland, Croatia, Poland and Austria. In the Alpine Republic, you can still register for the route toll (not for the “Pickerl”) on the Asfinag website and will be automatically deducted from this point in time – at no extra charge.

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It is more complicated with Tolltickets: This provider arranges the national toll box for France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. So if you drive through France and Spain to Portugal, you need three boxes. For Denmark, Norway and Sweden, Tolltickets offers the joint toll box Autopass.

How to get a toll box

At ADAC you can call 089/45353570 or order online at adac-mautbox.de. With Bip&Go, orders can only be placed on the bipandgo.com website. The procedure at Bip&Go is a bit more complicated and in some places you should have basic knowledge of French because the website is not fully translated.

The terms and conditions of both providers are in the respective home languages ​​of the motorway companies – but that is no different without a toll box. Storing the credit card initially caused problems for both providers, but worked after repeated attempts – at least when the current two-phase authentication is switched on.

With Tolltickets, the recording device can only be ordered online at tolltickets.com.

How much it costs to use the toll box

One-off activation of the ADAC toll box costs EUR 19.90 plus EUR 3.90 postage. There is also an annual fee of 19.90 euros, which is automatically extended by one year if you do not cancel. Finally, of course, the distances traveled add up – and the ADAC wants to collect an additional five percent. Billing is done monthly with the payment method stored.

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An Ostdeutsche-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (ODEG) train on the route between Lübbenau and Cottbus

Traveling in regional trains

With Bip&Go you pay a one-time fee of 14 euros for the transponder, plus 10 euros for shipping abroad (and Germany is a foreign country for the French company). Bip&Go offers two price variants for use.

Occasional drivers will do better with the occasional use model. A fee is only charged for the months in which the system is actually used. Then 1.70 euros for every month driven in France and 2.50 euros for every month driven in Spain and Portugal as well as 2.50 euros for every month driven in Italy.

Anyone who uses toll motorways at least once a month is better off with an annual subscription for 16 euros in France and 10 euros a year for Spain, Portugal and Italy. The respective countries can be specified in advance when ordering online and then managed in the customer portal. Bip&Go does not calculate percentages in addition to the toll charged.

Tolltickets toll boxes are delivered by courier for EUR 4.50. You pay five euros to activate it, and 35 euros a year to use it, plus seven percent on the toll fees. Only in the first year you can also choose 1.75 euros per day of use.

What it looks like when changing a vehicle

It’s easier than you think: the toll boxes of all three systems can be used in several vehicles without any problems. All you have to do is change the respective license plate number in the online profile. If you drive more often with several vehicles, it is best to order several vehicle mounts at the same time.

The toll boxes can even be reassigned to rental cars. But beware: Some rental cars have a toll box installed from the outset, so you easily pay twice. If you don’t want to use the transponder and still have it in the car, you get a metal bag from the manufacturer in which you should pack the transponder – otherwise it will be debited automatically.

The conclusion

With a seven percent surcharge, Tolltickets is clearly the most expensive provider. However, it is also the only option for anyone traveling to Scandinavia who is looking for a toll box in advance. The national toll boxes from Tolltickets for Southern Europe are not worth it.

Most users also pay more than is necessary for the most well-known provider, ADAC/maut1 – mainly because you also pay if you don’t use the box and because a five percent surcharge is also charged.

Bip&Go makes the cheapest offer, but ordering is more complicated than with the competition. Something else only applies to motorhomes over 3.5 tons: You drive better with the toll boxes from ADAC/maut1 and Tolltickets – because the Bip&Go toll box is only valid for vehicles up to 3.5 tons.

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Christopher Many is traveling in a former Postbus.  In the case of used vehicles, at least the emissions from the manufacture of new vehicles are eliminated

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