All of Turkey's toll highways and bridges have been converted to the High-Speed Toll System (Hızlı Geçiş Sistemi, "Fast Transit System," or HGS) to increase the speed of traffic flow. This means that you cannot pay highway or bridge tolls with cash or credit card. Your vehicle, whether private or rented, must have an electronic toll-payment device.
Pay Toll by HGS
On virtually all toll highways and toll bridges such as Istanbul's Bosphorus Bridge, you cannot pay the toll in cash or by credit card. You are required to be enrolled in the HGS automatic toll system. This means the car you drive must be equipped with either an electronic-chip sticker or a toll transponder (small plastic device) mounted at the top-center of the windshield. These devices communicate with toll-tracking equipment mounted above the roadway, record your car's passage, and charge the toll to the car's account.
If your car is not equipped with such a device, traffic cameras will record your passage and a substantial fine will be levied against the car's owner, or the car hire company will pass the toll to your credit card.
Your Own Car
|Look for this PTT logo...|
In theory, if you drive a car registered in another country into Turkey, you can stop at the first PTT branch you come to, give them a photocopy of your auto registration document and your passport, pay TL10 to be enrolled in the HGS system, and obtain an HGS registration sticker/label or an HGS registration card. Be sure to display these in your front windshield, as they identify you to the HGS system.
You must then pay a minimum of TL30 to the credit of your HGS account to be used in payment of tolls. (This rate is for a Class 1 vehicle such as a motorcycle, normal passenger car, pickup truck or minivan measuring no more than 3.20 meters (10.5 feet) between the front and rear axles. The minimums for larger vehicles are higher, as the tolls are higher. More...)
Note that you cannot pay your toll credit amount through any website. It must be paid at a PTT branch or Shell station. Websites claiming to credit your HGS account are fake and you will lose your money.
HGS vs OGS
HGS = Hızlı Geçiş Sistemi, "High-Speed Passage System:" The high-speed system allows you to pass at highway speed through the toll area.
OGS = Otomatik Geçiş Sistemi, "Automatic Passage System:" the slow-speed automatic toll system where you drive more slowly through a toll gate and your transponder pays the toll.
|Uh-oh...better to use the Otoyol...|
Turkey's modern otoyols (toll expressways) and bridges (köprü) are up to European standards, and can increase safety and decrease your travel times, so you will probably want to use them during your driving trip to Turkey.
You'll see otoyols from Edirne on the Bulgarian-Greek border through Istanbul to Ankara, from İzmir west Çeşme, from İzmir south (for Ephesus) and east to Aydın, and in increasingly more locations around the country. If I can drive via otoyol, I usually do, though sometimes I prefer the slower traditional 2- and 4-lane highways which often parallel the otoyols.
The otoyols are smoother, faster, more comfortable and easier to drive. Tolls are not expensive.
Turkish Highway Map
Click here for a l-a-r-g-e (2 MB) 2012 Turkish highway map showing the Otoyols as well as traditional highways. Then, click a spot on the map to enlarge it.
Besides the toll otoyols, Turkey's non-toll highway system has been substantially upgraded in recent years, with safer, faster 4-lane dual-carriageway highways replacing 2- and 3-lane roads.
Many of these new 4-lane roads are not engineered to the standards of true otoyols (expressways), and are not limited access, however, meaning they are not as safe as otoyols, and thus speed limits are lower—but no tolls are charged.
—by Tom Brosnahan