Are you planning a long-distance road trip? Will you be crossing state borders? Then along with estimating the fuel expenses, you must also have an estimate on the toll tax expenses. All significant interstate and intrastate highways have toll plazas. And it is mandatory to pay these taxes to travel on those roads.
You must know about toll tax if you are about to travel as it is not avoidable like most other taxes. Here you will learn everything about what is toll tax, toll tax rules, and several other related information. It will make you ready for all your future travel endeavors.
- You will get to know about the toll tax rules in India.
- You will learn about old Raahdari (toll tax’s meaning in Hindi).
- You will know about the per km toll tax rates for different vehicles.
- You will also know who and which vehicles have toll tax exemption.
What is Toll Tax?
Let us start from the very beginning with a clear perception of what is toll tax. Toll tax is an indirect tax in India levied upon for traveling through a tolled state or national highway. The toll tax meaning in Hindi is “Raahdari,” It was much prevalent in the olden days while traveling through or entering kingdoms ruled by different monarchs. So you can say that the toll tax has deeps roots in the Indian culture since ancient times.
Toll tax is a pay-on-use expense applicable for most vehicles. In India, the National Highway Authority of India collects these funds from travelers for using the road. The primary purpose of this tax amount is to meet the expenses of a newly built road. It is also helpful in managing the road, providing amenities, breakdown assistance, security, and police protection. So during the initial phase, the toll tax is high, and after a few years, it can reduce to around 40% after obtaining the cost of construction.
Toll tax is one of the significant sources of income for the government. In FY 2021, the total toll tax obtained only for the national highways was INR 285.48 billion. It has been steadily increasing over the past few years, along with the traveling craze among people.
Alt-text: Toll tax collected on national highways in India from FY 2017 to FY 2021.
Toll taxes are for roads for limited distances, and at each end of the road, there are toll plazas or toll booths that collect the tax. Usually, the NHAI collects the toll tax or leases it to the company that undertook the tender to construct the road. Toll tax rules regarding the rates are different for different stretches of roads and different types of vehicles.
Who Should Pay Toll Tax?
The toll tax meaning is different for different vehicles, so some vehicles are exempt from paying it, and some have to pay surplus amounts. A factor deciding who should pay toll tax and who shouldn’t pay toll tax is Passenger Car Unit (PCU) or Passenger Car Equivalent (PCE). PCU is a metric system specifically used to evaluate traffic flows through different roads.
Every type of vehicle has a PCU value based on the different parameters like its seating capacity, weight, speed, number of axles, carbon emission, etc. Every road also has an optimum PCU per hour capacity. When the traffic flow increases, the capacity of the road also increases, causing more traffic and accident issues. It is because every vehicle contributes a portion of their PCU in the total PCU capacity of the road.
All vehicles with a PCU value less than 1 do not need to pay toll tax. And the vehicles with a PCU value of more than 1 require toll tax payment. Given below are the PCU values of some common types of vehicles.
|Vehicle Type||Base Rate / km (INR)|
|Motorcycle / rickshaw||0.75|
|Car, Jeep, Non-commercial personal vehicles||1|
|Animal Drawn Vehicle||4|
Word to Remember
Passenger Car Unit – PCU is a metric system to define the type of vehicle on the basis of its specifics. Its unit value is equivalent to a single passenger car, so this is where it gets its name. The PCU of other vehicles is then based on the PCU value of a car in multiples or factors.
Toll Tax Exemption List
Apart from the PCU value, the dignitary status of the traveler and some vehicles also decide whether they pay the toll tax or not. These include the vehicles belonging to the high-ranking individuals in different fields of government, civil service, judiciary, police, armed forces, foreign bureaucracy, and military bravery award recipients. Below is the complete list of the people and vehicles that have an exemption on toll tax as per Rule 11 of The National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008.
Dignified People Whose Vehicles Have Exemption
- President of India
- Vice-President of India
- Prime-Minister of India
- Chief Justice of India
- Speaker of the House of People
- Cabinet Minister of the Union
- Chief Minister of a state
- Judge of the Supreme Court
- Minister of State of the Union
- Lieutenant Governor of a Union territory
- Chief of Staff holding the rank of General or similar rank
- Chairman of a Legislative Council
- Speaker of a Legislative Assembly
- Chief Justice of a High Court
- Judge of a High Court
- Member of Parliament
- Army Commander of Army Staff Vice-Chief and equivalent
- Chief Secretary to a State Government
- Secretary to the Government of India
- Secretary to the Council of States
- Secretary to the House of People
- Foreign dignitary on a State visit
- Member of the Legislative Assembly of a State and the Member of Legislative Council of a State within their respective State. But only if they produce their identity card issued by the concerned Legislature of the State.
- Award recipients of Param Vir Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Vir Chakra, and Shaurya Chakra. But only they produce their photo identity card duly authenticated by the appropriate or competent authority of the respective award.
Special Category Vehicles Which Have Exemption
- Vehicles belonging to the Ministry of Defense are eligible for exemption under the Indian Toll (Army and Air Force) Act, 1901, and subsequent amendments. It is also applicable to the Navy vehicles.
- Vehicles with Central & State armed forces, paramilitary forces, and police in uniform.
- Vehicles with an Executive Magistrate
- Vehicles from the fire-fighting departments or organization
- Vehicles from the National Highway Authority of India or any other Government organization with people carrying out inspection, survey, construction, operation, or maintenance.
- Funeral vans
- Vehicles specially made for the use of a person who has a physical disability.
Did You Know?
Did you know that you can also pay toll tax electronically without even stopping at toll plazas? Yes, this is possible through FASTags. FASTag is a radio frequency identification card that works like a debit card to pay toll taxes. You can affix the card to your vehicle, and when you pass through a plaza, it automatically deducts the money. Thus, you can skip waiting in long toll booth lines and save your precious time.
Toll Tax Rates
Rule 4 of The National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008, states the toll tax rules regarding the rates. The higher the PCU of a vehicle, the higher the toll tax rate will be. Based on this format, they provide a base rate of the fee per km for Raahdari, which is toll tax, meaning in Hindi. The below table provides detailed information for different vehicles.
|Vehicle Type||Base Rate / km (INR)|
|Car, Jeep, Van, LMV||0.65|
|LGV, LCV, Minibus||1.05|
|Bus, Truck (Vehicles with two axles)||2.20|
|Vehicles with three axles||2.40|
|Heavy Construction Machinery, Earth Moving Equipments (Vehicles with four to six axles)||3.45|
|Vehicles with more than seven axles||4.20|
These base rates are applicable for vehicles as per the length of a particular tolled road. This rate can also increase if the roads have more special amenities or if it is newly constructed. So instead of basing your expected toll tax on these rates, you must know what is the toll tax for a particular road beforehand. You can refer to the Toll Information System official website to know the actual toll rates.
Now that you have gone through what is toll tax, its rules, and everything related to it, you won’t have any questions. The NHAI regulates the toll tax amount so that they can use it for future developments while ensuring it doesn’t adversely affect travelers and commuters. For this purpose, there are several discounts for travelers, especially daily commuters. You can benefit from these discounts if you know them in detail from official sources.
If you travel on a motorcycle, you will not need to pay toll taxes. Or, if you are in a group, you can choose the smallest possible vehicle. It will allow you to reduce the toll tax amount and make your travel economical. So the next time you travel through tolled roads, ensure that you use your knowledge from here.
A toll tax is a tax you pay for using a national or state highway that has toll collection. This toll tax is compensation for the construction of the road or the regular maintenance, amenities, or security of the road.
Two-wheelers have a PCU value of 0.75, less than the minimum eligibility criteria of 1. So they don’t need to pay toll taxes.
Toll tax’s meaning in Hindi is Raahdari.
Toll tax is a tax for a service. So as per the definition, it becomes an indirect tax.
Road tax and toll tax are two different things. Road tax is for a vehicle applicable only once during purchase. In contrast, a Toll tax is a fee for using a highway.
Carts have no pollution or fuel consumption but get the high PCU solely because they are very slow. Highways allow vehicles the maximum speed limits to ensure no traffic jams. But when a cart enters this traffic, there can be jams or obstacles for other vehicles causing them to spend more time on the tolled road. These excess expenses are why such carts have high PCU value and are heavily tolled.