The London T-charge - what is it and how to avoid it

A new ‘T-Charge’ is now operating in central London.

The charge goes live at a time of increased speculation about what other charges may soon be brought in by other cities to address air quality standards.

Find out all you need to know and how to avoid it.

T-Charge infographic

What is the London T-charge?

From 23rd October 2017, a new toxicity charge, known as the ‘T-Charge’ will operate within the boundaries of the London Congestion Charge zone.

The £10 T-Charge fee is on top of the existing £11.50 daily charge, which means drivers of vehicles which are liable will have to pay £21.50 in total to drive in central London on Monday to Friday between 7:00-18:00.

It is designed to improve London’s air quality by reducing the number of older, higher polluting cars from entering the central London area.

The charge will be levied on all pre Euro 4 vehicles, both petrol and diesel, so it will have an impact on drivers who have older cars and travel regularly into London.

READ MORE: Engine idling - 40,000 deaths a year

What vehicles are affected?

Cars, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and HGVs, motorbikes, motorised caravans and horseboxes, private ambulances, motor hearses, dual purpose vehicles and other specialist vehicle types that do not meet the minimum Euro 4 emission standards.

In general, this means if your vehicle was registered before January 2005, you are likely to be impacted and have to pay the charge during the set times.

How can I check if my vehicle will be impacted?

TfL has produced a T-Charge checker which allows drivers to input their number plate to check if they are liable to the charge.

To find out more widely what Euro Emissions standard category your vehicle falls into, check when it was first registered.

How do I pay?

The T-Charge uses the same payment and operational systems as the Congestion Charge and can be found here.

From the launch on 23 October 2017 TfL now identify whether a vehicle is liable to the T-Charge and will charge drivers for both the Congestion Charge and the T-Charge in the same transaction, if they are liable.

Congestion Charge Autopay drivers will be automatically charged if their vehicle does not meet emissions standards.

What happens if I don’t pay?

TfL uses automatic number plate recognition cameras to enforce the two charges.

Failure to pay will result in a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) being issued. This is £130 (reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days).

Remember - even if your vehicle is not liable to the T-Charge, it will still need to pay the Congestion Charge.

MORE ADVICE: What else can you get driving penalties for?

What next?

The T-Charge will eventually be replaced by the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, which is more expansive in geographical area and will have stricter emissions standards, possibly as soon as 2019.

London T-charge

Ways to future-proof yourself against the London T-charge

  • Park outside the Congestion Charge zone

    Of course, this is the easiest way of avoiding the charge, no matter what car you drive. If you’re not within the Congestion Charge zone, you’re not at risk of any extra T-charge either.

  • Buy a post-2005 car

    The T-charge is imposed on cars that don’t meet Euro 4 emissions levels.

    These became mandatory for all cars sold from January 2005 onwards, although some older cars do also meet Euro 4 standards.

    The T-charge will use DVLA registration data to see whether your car is liable for the charge or not, which you can check for yourself.

    Looking to buy an older diesel but want to minimise your risk of being impacted by a possible T-charge? Simply buy a diesel built in 2005 or after.

    This, however, will only be a short-term solution given the Ultra Low Emission Zone, set to come in to force in London and replace the T-Charge in 2020, will mean only Euro 6 diesels are exempt.

  • Buy an electric car

    Want to guarantee you won’t be impacted by a London exhaust toxicity charge? Then buy a zero-emissions car that doesn’t emit anything!

    Electric cars are unlikely ever to be affected by a London emissions charge.

  • Buy a hybrid or range-extender

    Hybrid cars and range-extender cars aren’t quite zero emissions, but they’re still ultra-low emissions, so they too are not at risk of being impacted by a T-charge.

Six cars guaranteed to escape the London T-charge

  • Nissan Leaf: the popular electric car

    The Nissan Leaf is the world’s best-selling electric car. First introduced in 2010, it’s a popular new-car buy and there are growing numbers on the used market, too. It’s the car that popularised electric motoring and London loves it.

    Read the full review here

    The Nissan Leaf
    The Nissan Leaf
  • Toyota Prius: the popular hybrid car

    The Toyota Prius has been around since 2000, with tens of thousands now on the roads in Britain. Its hybrid drivetrain uses a combination of electric motors and an efficient petrol engine. Tailpipe emissions are ultra-low, so even the very earliest examples are guaranteed to escape the T-Charge.
    Read the full review here

    Toyota Prius
    Toyota Prius
  • Tesla Model S: the EV for plutocrats

    For those who love their big executive car, but want a greener solution that’s T-Charge-free, try the Tesla Model S electric car. It has mesmerising performance – 0-62mph takes a ludicrous 2.8 seconds – but a range of nearly 300 miles and ultra-luxury, tech-packed motoring for up to seven. It’s hard to believe it produces not a single toxic emission.
    Read the full review here

    Tesla Model S
    Tesla Model S
  • Renault Zoe: the affordable electric car

    The Nissan Leaf is popular, but is priced upwards of £25,000. The Renault Zoe is a smaller electric supermini that costs from less than £19,000, yet still has a healthy range and space for five. Renault dealers have some fantastic finance offers to make it even more affordable.
    Read the full review here

    Renault Zoe
    Renault Zoe
  • BMW i3 Range-Extender: added range

    The ingenuous BMW i3 is made from carbon fibre, is ultra-compact for city use but can still seat five, has a commanding high-up driving position and is a hoot to drive. There’s a full EV model, but the smart money is on the i3 Range Extender, which has a tiny motorcycle engine in the back to ‘extend the range’ when the batteries go flat. It really is the best of both worlds, with a stylish premium kerbside look for good measure.
    Read the full review here

    BMW i3
    BMW i3
  • Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost: best-seller

    If you’re on a tighter budget, yet still want a safe modern car that’s good to drive and guaranteed to escape the London T-Charge, then try the sub-100g/km CO2 Ecoboost version of the nation’s best-selling car: the Ford Fiesta. First launched in 2013, it accounts for almost half of the 130,000 annual Fiesta sales, meaning there are thousands to choose from on the used market.
    Read the full review here

    Ford Fiesta Ecoboost
    Ford Fiesta Ecoboost