FASTag: Everything you need to know before India's electronic toll system becomes mandatory on December 15

By Vignesh Giridharan | Published on Nov 22 2019
FASTag: Everything you need to know before India's electronic toll system becomes mandatory on December 15

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HIGHLIGHTS

FASTag is an electronic tag for all types of road vehicles

It enables automatic deductions at tolls

Adoption of FASTag for toll payment is mandatory from December 15

UPDATE: According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the last date to adopt FASTag has been pushed to December 15.

If you often travel from one Indian city to another by road, then there’s a good chance you’ve come across the name FASTag. You might have seen it on a sign board at several tollgates on many Indian highways. In any case, FASTag is an electronic toll collection system operated by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). Since its first pilot project in 2014, more and more highways have started adopting it as an alternative to cash payment. Since FASTag is an automated payment system that’s faster and more efficient than cash transactions, its benefits are finally being recognised by the government. For this very reason, payment through FASTag is going to be made mandatory for all road users in India starting December 15.

Why should you care?

Cash transactions at tollgates take time, which means you usually end up waiting in a long queue at many points on the highway. Because FASTag significantly reduces the time taken to collect toll from road users, the Government of India (GOI) recently decided to make it mandatory at all highway tollgates that support FASTag from the first day of December. This means that you’ll have to sign up for payment through FASTag to get your vehicle across tollgates, or be ready to pay twice the toll charge in cash.

How does it work?

The reason the new system is called FASTag is because toll collection happens using an electronic tag, which the user is required to affix to the inside of their vehicle’s windscreen. This tag employs a wireless technology called RFID (radio frequency identification) to communicate with an automated barrier at each tollgate. Each tag comes with its own prepaid account with a minimum balance. When a motorist approaches a FASTag-supported tollgate, the automated barrier will read from the user’s tag wirelessly and deduct the necessary toll amount before opening. This way, the user doesn’t have to roll their window down and dig into their wallets for cash, thus saving time.

How do you sign up for FASTag?

To enable faster adoption, NHAI has allowed many national banks and state-run oil marketing companies to act as official tag issuers. This means you can sign up for FASTag from ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, State Bank of India, Axis Bank and, more recently, Airtel Payments Bank and PAYTM Payments Bank. Click here to view the complete list of tag-issuing banks. You should also be able to sign up for FASTag from a nearby fuel pump that’s operated by IOC, Bharat Petroleum, or Hiindustan Petroleum. According to the FAQ page on Airtel’s website, each tag comes with a renewable validity of 5 years.

Because FASTag is built on an automated infrastructure, there are some one-time expenses involved in the joining process apart from the money spent regularly on toll. There’s a one-time ‘tag joining fee’ of Rs 100 (including all taxes) and a one-time ‘security deposit amount’ of Rs 200 for private cars, vans, and other mini-light commercial vehicles. You can find the complete price list (for all vehicle types) with the list of any extra fees that will be levied here. Because each tag is linked to a prepaid account that can be topped up online or offline, you’ll be asked to maintain a ‘threshold amount’ of Rs 150 as long as you use FASTag.

Many of these official tag issuers promise a cashback offer on transacting using their tag. ICICI Bank, for example, claims that you “can avail cashback of 2.5% on all Toll payments at the national highways only, using FASTag in FY 2019-20”. As of September 2019, payment through FASTag is supported at over 500 national and state highway tollgates. We, at Digit, believe that the mandate to switch to FASTag by December 15 at all supported tollgates is a step in the right direction. We expect to see a significant reduction in time and fuel spent on the highway.

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