The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ): what you need to know

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ): what you need to know

London ULEZ charge -  what you need to know

Where? All roads within (but not including) the North and South Circular.

When? 24 hours a day, every day of the year (except Christmas Day)

How much? £12.50 per day

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) launched in 2019 to help improve air quality in the heart of the city.

Fast forward to October 2021 and the daily charge has expanded to cover an area 18 times the size of the original zone and home to 3.8 million people. 

Our in-depth guide is designed to keep you up to speed with the latest changes, so you can hit the capital’s roads with confidence.

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone

The London ULEZ launched in April 2019 to discourage drivers of the most polluting vehicles from using roads in central London and clean the city’s toxic air.

The daily charge has helped to reduce roadside nitrogen dioxide levels by 44% and has since expanded to cover a quarter of the capital.1 

From 25 October 2021, the ULEZ charges non-compliant vehicles to travel on roads from central London up to, but not including, the North Circular and South Circular roads.

london-ulez-map

Image: TfL, map data ©Google 2021

When does the London ULEZ apply?

The London ULEZ applies 24 hours a day and every day of the year, except Christmas Day.

Which vehicles are affected by the London ULEZ?

Vehicles that don’t meet the following emissions standards have to pay the daily ULEZ charge:

Cars: Euro 6 emission standards for diesels and Euro 4 emission standards for petrol-powered cars.

Petrol cars that meet the ULEZ standards are generally those registered with the DVLA after 2005, although cars that meet the standards have been available since 2001.

Diesel cars that meet the standards are generally those registered with the DVLA after September 2015.

Vans: Euro 6 emission standards for diesels and Euro 4 emission standards for petrol-powered vans.

The ULEZ will be enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle rather than its age, however:

All new diesel vans sold from September 2016 should meet the Euro 6 standard

All petrol vans registered with the DVLA from January 2006 meet the Euro 4 standard

Vans, lorries and HGVs weighing more than 3.5 tonnes do not need to pay the ULEZ charge.2

Motorcycles and mopeds: All vehicles will need to meet Euro 3 emissions standards.

The ULEZ will be enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle rather than its age - but generally speaking Euro 3 engines are those registered with the DVLA after July 2007.

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ULEZ vehicle checker

london-ulez-vehicle-checker

The Transport for London (TfL) vehicle checker will tell you if you need to pay the ULEZ charge and the Congestion Charge.

All you need is your number plate and country of registration details.

How much does the ULEZ cost?

All cars, motorcycles and vans (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) that don’t meet the minimum emissions standards must pay a £12.50 daily charge.

Is my vehicle exempt from the ULEZ charge?

TfL’s full list of discounts and exemptions can be accessed here

Keepers of vehicles registered with a ‘disabled’ or ‘disabled passenger vehicles’ tax class will be exempt until 26 October 2025 as long as their vehicle doesn’t change tax class.3

Do I still have to pay the Congestion Charge?

Yes, the charge is in addition to the Congestion Charge and applies irrespective of whether your vehicle is ULEZ compliant.

If I don’t pay the ULEZ charge, will I receive a penalty?

Yes, TfL will use automatic number plate recognition cameras which will detect entry to the zone. Failure to pay will result in a hefty penalty charge notice (PCN) of £160, or £80 if paid within 14 days.4

How do I pay the ULEZ?

TfL offers a variety of payment methods which will suit different drivers depending on how frequently they drive into Central London:

  • TfL website – where you can register your vehicle for Autopay to pay the charge automatically. There is an annual £10 admin fee per vehicle.
  • TfL Smartphone App with ULEZ payment available from the 8th April 2019
  • Pay by phone: UK: 0343 222 2222 (TfL call charges)

Can I get support to buy a vehicle that meets emissions standards?

london-ulez-advice

A car and motorcycle scrappage scheme is available to low-income and disabled drivers living in any one of London’s 32 boroughs. 

The scheme pays £2,000 to scrap a car and £1,000 to scrap a motorcycle that doesn’t meet the ULEZ emissions standards.

London ULEZ advice

  • Before driving into London you should check whether you’ll need to pay the ULEZ charge using the TfL vehicle checker.
  • You should also check if your destination falls within the expanded zone using TfL’s postcode and map search tool – this will also tell you if you have to pay the Congestion Charge.
  • Remember the ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year (except for Christmas Day) and will also operate at times when the Congestion Charge may not. When the Congestion Charge is in operation, you will be charged for both.
  • If you are going to London on a day trip, check alternatives, such as train travel and tube travel, which may work out cheaper than ULEZ, Congestion Charge and parking options.  
  • Plan your route – if you are crossing London from north to south, east to west or vice versa, you should set your sat-nav to avoid local charge/toll areas. 

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes, commented on the expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone by saying:

“We understand there is a need to clean up London’s air quality, but the ULEZ’s expansion couldn’t come at a worse time for drivers that depend on their vehicles, with fuel prices approaching record highs and continued concern about using public transport during the pandemic. 

“In addition, the nature of targeting older vehicles means those drivers from lower income backgrounds are likely to be disproportionately impacted.”

Did you know, you can get fined for moving out of the way of an ambulance?

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1 https://www.london.gov.uk/WHAT-WE-DO/environment/environment-publications/central-london-ulez-ten-month-report
2 https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/larger-vehicles?intcmp=52206
3 https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/discounts-and-exemptions

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