Ultra Low Emission Zones: what you need to know

Ultra Low Emission Zones: what you need to know
In 2014, Boris Johnson announced plans to introduce the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London in September 2020.

Since then, the proposition has been much discussed and his successor, Sadiq Khan, has announced plans to bring the charge forward to April 2019 in a bid to halve emissions from cars in the capital by 2020.

With the introduction of the ULEZ coming closer it's worth separating fact from speculation - our in-depth guide will keep you as informed and prepared as possible.

The Mayor of London has plans to extend the ULEZ boundary in October 2021 to the North and South Circular roads. At time of writing, it will operate to the same emissions standards as the current ULEZ.

What is an Ultra-Low Emission Zone?

An Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is a defined area within which all vehicles will have to meet strict emission requirements or face a daily charge to travel.

London is introducing the UK’s first ULEZ to combat air pollution by discouraging drivers from entering the most polluted areas in unsuitable vehicles.

It follows a Low Emission Zone which was aimed at polluting HGVs that was introduced in Greater London in 2008.

Where are England’s Ultra-Low Emission Zones?

The first Ultra-Low Emission Zone will be introduced in London in 2019.

Other cities could follow suit, and the UK Government has outlined plans to allow local authorities to introduce clean air zones.

The Scottish Government has also drafted plans to introduce similar low emission zones.

When will the London Ultra-Low Emission Zone start?

It will come into force on Monday 8th April 2019 and will apply to the same area as the Congestion Charge zone (see below).

Image: TfL, map data ©Google 2019

When will the London Ultra-Low Emission Zone apply?

24 hours a day, seven days a week, which will include bank holidays.

Which vehicles will be affected by the London ULEZ?

Cars: Any diesel not conforming to Euro 6 emission standards and any petrol not conforming to Euro 4 emission standards.

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: Minimum standards - Petrol: Euro 4; Diesel: Euro 6.

The ULEZ will be enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle rather than the 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
  • HGVs: All vehicles in this category will need to meet Euro VI standards

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 the age - but generally speaking Euro 3 engines as those registered with the DVLA after July 2007.

RAC Breakdown Cover from £4.50

Rated 4 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot from over 25,000 reviews*.

ULEZ vehicle checker

Transport for London (TfL) has an online vehicle checker which indicates if your vehicle will be subject to the ULEZ charge.

How much will the ULEZ it cost?

£12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans (up to and including 3.5 tonnes).

£100 for heavier vehicles, including lorries (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses/coaches (over 5 tonnes).

Is my vehicle exempt from the ULEZ charge?

TfL’s full list of discounts, exemptions and sunset periods can be accessed here. Black cabs are exempt. Others eligible for exemptions include residents, vehicles for those with disabilities and historic vehicles.

Do I still have to pay the Congestion Charge?

Yes, the charge is in addition to the C-Charge if your vehicle is not compliant with ULEZ standards.

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.

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 – payment for the ULEZ available from 8th April 2019
  • Autopay – to be expanded to include ULEZ payments. Already have Auto Pay? Then you don't need to do anything. There is a £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)

ULEZ advice

  • Before driving into the Central London Congestion Charge and ULEZ zone, ensure you have checked whether your vehicle is subject to the ULEZ charge.
  • Remember the ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will also operate on days when the Congestion Charge may not be. When the Congestion Charge is in operation, you will be charged for both.
  • The Mayor of London has plans to extend the ULEZ boundary in October 2021 to the North and South Circular roads. At time of writing, it will operate to the same emissions standards as the current ULEZ.
  • If you are going to London on a day-trip, check other 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. 

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

Want more useful content like this sent straight to your inbox?

* New, Vehicle based Roadside only on a monthly auto renewing contract