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Friday, 25 December 2020

FASTag mandatory for all vehicles in India from new year 2021

FASTag mandatory in India from the 1st of January, 2021, with hybrid lanes accepting cash to remain operational till the 15th of February, 2021.

Planning for a road trip in the upcoming new year but haven't got a FASTag for your older vehicle yet? Better get one quickly, as FASTag is mandatory for all category M and N vehicles in India from the 1st of January, 2021. And, the hybrid lanes that accept cash to remain operational till 15th of February, 2021.

Travelling along NH44
Travelling along NH44, during a Road Trip from Bengaluru to Kolkata.

FASTag is mandatory for all M and N categories of motor vehicles with effect from midnight of 15th/16th February 2021.

The Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and MSMEs Shri Nitin Gadkari, has announced that FASTag is being made mandatory for all vehicles in India from the 1st of January, 2021.

Updated on 31st December 2020: As per the 31st of December 2020 notification by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, you can still pay the toll fee in cash also till 15th February, 2021, at the hybrid lanes of the National Highways toll plazas. However, in the FASTag lanes of toll plazas, payment of fees will be allowed only through FASTags.

Updated on 14th February 2021: Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has announced that all lanes in the toll plazas on National Highways shall be declared as “FASTag lane of the fee plaza” with effect from midnight of 15th/16th February 2021. Any vehicle which is not fitted with a FASTag, and any vehicle without a valid or a functional FASTag, will have to pay double the toll fee applicable to that vehicle's category, when entering into the FASTag lane of the toll plazas.

In addition to newer vehicles, FASTag is mandatory from the 1st of January 2021 in old vehicles also, that is, the ones which were sold before 1st December 2017, as per a notification issued by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways earlier on 07th of November this year. As per this notification, all 4 wheeled vehicles including old vehicles also, that is, M and N category of motor vehicles (four wheelers) sold before 1st December 2017, are required to have FASTags from 1st January 2021.

What does Category ‘M’ and ‘N’ vehicles mean?

Category ‘M’ stands for a motor vehicle with at least four wheels, which is used for carrying passengers.

Category ‘N’ stands for a motor vehicle with at least four wheels, which is used for carrying goods and which may also carry persons in addition to goods.

FASTag mandatory for new 3rd Party Insurance

It has also been mandated that a valid FASTag is mandatory while getting a new 3rd Party Insurance through an amendment in FORM 51 (Certificate of Insurance), wherein the details of FASTag ID shall be captured. This shall be applicable with effect from the 1st of April 2021.

More about FASTag

Implementation of this new rule will fully digitise the toll payment and collections system. Which means that no more cash collections at the toll booths, no more waiting in line until the fellows before you have paid in cash and collected their currency change, or entered into arguments over receiving 1 Rupee chocolates instead of currency change, etc. And that's a good thing, isn't it? 

As per Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, the FASTag had been made mandatory since the 1st of December 2017 for all registration of new four wheeled vehicles, and it is being supplied either by the vehicle manufacturers or their dealers. Furthermore, the renewal of fitness certificate for transport vehicles would be done only after the installation of FASTag. And for National Permit Vehicles, the installation of FASTag was mandatory since 1st of October 2019.

As per an amendment notification by The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, earlier this year on 15th May 2020, you'll have to pay double the toll fee if your vehicle enters into “FASTag lane” of the toll plazas while :
1. Your vehicle is not fitted with FASTag. or ,
2. If your vehicle is without a valid or functional FASTag. That is, your FASTag is not valid or doesn't function.
Before this amendment, the user of the vehicle had to pay twice only if the vehicle didn't carry the FASTag and had entered in a dedicated FASTag lane.

What's a FASTag?

FASTag is an electronic toll collection system in India, launched by the Government of India about four years ago in 2016. It uses the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for facilitating the toll payments electronically from your prepaid wallet or savings bank account, whichever is the one that is linked to it.

A FASTag sticker is affixed on the windscreen of your vehicle. When you to drive through the toll plazas in the highways, the scanner or reader fixed on the toll booths will read this tag on your vehicle's windshield and the corresponding toll payment will be electronically deducted from your corresponding linked bank account or prepaid e-wallet, and you can move on without the need to stop for cash transactions. This helps quicker passage through the toll booths and hence reduces your waiting time and also helps reduce those long lines in tolled routes with heavy traffic. Those of you who have already got a FASTag for your vehicle, especially if you've been road tripping, you'd already know all this.

As per the government's report, about a lakh of FASTags were altogether issued since it was launched about four years ago in 2016, and their numbers went up to seven lakh in the next year of 2017. Over 34 lakh FASTags were issued in 2018.

Wondering how to get a FASTag? Here's how:

FASTags are issued by twenty eight certified banks, which include major banks like State Bank of India (SBI), ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, etc., and also payments banks like Airtel Payments Bank and PayTM. Full list on National Payments Corporation of India's website.

You can purchase FASTag online through the bank portals which issue them and even have it delivered to your home. Check with your bank or check out in their website. Depending on your bank, you may also be able to get one from your bank's nearest branch itself.

You can also buy a FASTag at toll plazas. You'll have to carry the necessary vehicle registration certificates and your KYC documents (Aadhaar, or PAN, etc.) along with you for verification.

A FASTag can also be purchased through E-Commerce sites like Amazon or Flipkart, for example.

If you have more than one vehicle, you will need a separate FASTag for each of them.

NHAI FASTag Helpline Number is : 1033


Do remember to ensure that whichever account is linked to your FASTag, whether it's a prepaid wallet or a bank account, has sufficient balance in it for the toll fee charges while passing through a toll plaza. Otherwise, your FASTag will fail to complete the toll transaction and you will have to pay the penalty which would be double the regular charge.

This happened once earlier this year during my travel where the hired vehicle's account had insufficient balance and he had to pay double the toll charges at a toll booth. However, your account or payment wallet can always be easily replenished with the amount electronically by making a digital transaction from your other accounts or payment apps or wallets, in case you have it enabled.


Sources:
[1] Gadkari Announces Enforcement of Mandatory FASTag from 1st January, 2021 - Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Press Information Bureau, Government of India. Post Date: 24 December 2020, 5:09PM.
[2] MoRTH issues notification for Promotion of Digital and IT based payment of fees through FASTag; all 4 wheel vehicles required to have FASTags from 1st January 2021 - Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Press Information Bureau, Government of India. Post Date: 07 November 2020, 5:09PM.
[3] Vehicles with invalid or non-functional FASTag to be charged double toll Fee applicable to their category - Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Press Information Bureau, Government of India. Post Date: 17 MAY 2020, 2:08PM.
[4] Mandatory implementation of FASTag wef new year day; hybrids lanes to remain operational till 15th February, 2021 - Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Press Information Bureau, Government of India. Post Date: 31 December 2020, 6:56PM.
[5] FASTag declared mandatory from midnight tomorrow - Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Press Information Bureau, Government of India. Post Date: 14 February 2021, 5:01PM.

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