- 1 What is ULEZ?
- 2 Which vehicles need to pay to enter the ULEZ area?
- 3 How does ULEZ actually work?
- 4 Is my car ULEZ-compliant?
- 5 How can I check if I need to pay ULEZ for my car?
- 6 Are any other vehicles exempt from the ULEZ charge?
- 7 How big is the ULEZ area of London?
- 8 Which London boroughs are covered by the ULEZ?
- 9 What is the charge for high-emission vehicles entering the ULEZ area?
- 10 How do you pay the charge of ULEZ?
- 11 Does ULEZ reduce the number of polluting cars?
- 12 Do Londoners support ULEZ?
- 13 Is there support to scrap older cars linked to ULEZ?
- 14 Has ULEZ replaced the congestion charge zone in London?
What is ULEZ?
London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was introduced to the capital of the United Kingdom in 2019 as a special measure to try and reduce pollution. It works by charging drivers of the worst polluting vehicles a special fee to drive within the ULEZ area.
Transport for London (TfL) runs ULEZ and is in charge of the size of the zone as well as collecting the charge on the affected vehicles.
There are displayed signs warning drivers that they are about to enter the ULEZ zone.
Which vehicles need to pay to enter the ULEZ area?
Vehicles that are low emitting do not need to pay the ULEZ charge. In general, the following rules apply and can help you work out whether or not your car will be charged for entering the ULEZ area:
- Low-emission and zero-emission vehicles like electric cars do not get charged.
- Petrol cars and vans that do not meet Euro 4 standards or above will be charged. This is most vehicles made before 2006.
- Diesel cars and vans that do not meet Euro 6 standards also must pay. This covers most vehicles pre-2015.
- Because some hybrid cars made before 2015 might not be ULEZ-compliant, there is no rule that all hybrid cars are exempt.
- Motorbikes that do not meet Euro 3 standards need to pay to enter ULEZ. This is most vehicles made before 2007. Since 2021, only Euro 5-compliant bikes can be sold in the EU or UK, so any motorbikes bought after this time will not be charged for ULEZ.
Also, buses, coaches and lorries must meet or exceed the Euro VI standard or the owners pay £100 a day to enter the ULEZ area.
How does ULEZ actually work?
If you enter the ULEZ in a non-compliant vehicle, TfL will be in touch to charge you. Your car is not stopped at all. Instead, the whole ULEZ is covered by cameras which work through automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR). Your vehicle is thus identified even if you have not noticed it happening.
TfL relies on data from the DVLA and the emissions standards published by TfL to decide whether or not your vehicle is compliant with ULEZ or not.
Is my car ULEZ-compliant?
If your vehicle was made after September 2015, there’s a chance it’s Euro 6 compliant and therefore not charged the ULEZ fee. But it’s still worth checking.
If you’re unsure whether or not your car is ULEZ-compliant, we can help.
We use the same data as TfL and the DVLA to measure how polluting a car is. Just type in your registration plate and we can tell you if your car meets the Euro emissions standards that qualify it as low-polluting.
This can give you the confidence to know accurately whether or not you will have to pay the ULEZ to enter London.
How can I check if I need to pay ULEZ for my car?
Just use our simple ULEZ checker to know whether you need to pay the ULEZ or not. All you need is your registration plate number. Our checker then tells you whether your vehicle is covered by the charges of ULEZ.
Are any other vehicles exempt from the ULEZ charge?
The following types of vehicles do not have to pay ULEZ:
- Historic vehicles over 40 years old.
- Vehicles in the “disabled” tax class.
- London-licensed taxis.
- Private hire vehicles which are wheelchair accessible
- Some agricultural vehicles
- Some military vehicles
- Mobile cranes
How big is the ULEZ area of London?
The size of London’s ULEZ has changed over time. It currently covers the area inside the North and South Circular Road. This means that if you’re using the A406 North Circular or A205 South Circular, then you won’t be charged. However, if you enter London in a motor vehicle within these boundaries then the ULEZ charge can be applied.
This change was implemented in 2021. The original area covered by ULEZ was just central London.
The size of the ULEZ area is due to be expanded on 29th August 2023 to operate city-wide up to the limits of the M25 ring road.
Which London boroughs are covered by the ULEZ?
When the ULEZ was expanded in October 2021 to cover areas of London inside the North and South Circular Roads. This brought the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Greenwich, Camden, Haringey, and Waltham Forest within the scheme. It also brought in the London boroughs of Redbridge, Newham, Brent, Barnet, Wandsworth, Lambeth, and Lewisham.
When the expansion of ULEZ takes place in August 2003 it will mean EVERY London borough is covered by ULEZ.
What is the charge for high-emission vehicles entering the ULEZ area?
The ULEZ charge is £12.50 per day. It applies for 24 hours a day every day of the year. No matter how long you spend in the ULEZ area, whether it’s five minutes or a whole day, you still have to pay the charge.
If you fail to pay the charge, most people are also charged with a penalty cost. This is currently £160 and the penalty will rise to £180 on 29th August 2023. However, if you pay the penalty within 14 then the penalty is reduced to £90.
Penalties can be charged for many reasons, including:
- Pay late (after midnight on the next working day after the first day of travel)
- Live within the ULEZ area but have failed to register the vehicle with Transport for London (TfL)
- Made an error when registering your vehicle with TfL
How do you pay the charge of ULEZ?
The ULEZ charge must be paid with a credit or debit card. Payment can be made by phone, via the TfL app on phones, online, or by Autopay if you regularly travel within the ULEZ area.
If you do not pay the ULEZ charge by midnight on the next working day after your first day of travel then you could incur a penalty charge.
Does ULEZ reduce the number of polluting cars?
In the first three months of operation, ULEZ reduced pollution by over 20% as people switched cars or found other ways to travel. It is also estimated that between 2016 to 2020, NO2 pollution dropped five times as quickly in Central London as it did across the rest of the country. This level of reduction persuaded the Mayor of London to expand the scheme.
Transport for London (TfL) also reviewed the impact of the expansion of ULEZ in 2021. It has stated that the pollution level was 20% lower than it would have been without the expansion. Much of this change is due to people replacing their vehicles. Within six months, 95% of cars and 83% of vans had emissions too low to qualify for ULEZ.
It is estimated the next expansion in August 2023 will take 20,000 to 40,000 vehicles off the road.
Do Londoners support ULEZ?
There are different attitudes to ULEZ amongst those who live in London. In April 2019 a poll showed 72% of Londoners supported ULEZ. However, there is not a majority of Londoners in favour of the planned expansion to the M25 in August 2023.
TfL has also introduced a £110M paid scrappage scheme in January 2023. This is used to support low-income Londoners, people with disabilities, charities, and small businesses to replace their high-emitting vehicles. It is estimated that 25,000 people will make use of it
This approach has been used successfully before. When ULEZ was first introduced, a scrappage scheme was also put in place. This was aimed at those on income support or disability benefit, encouraging them to scrap their cars. 12,000 cars were scrapped using the scheme. The scheme ended when the £61 million invested in it ran out.
Has ULEZ replaced the congestion charge zone in London?
The zones for ULEZ and the congestion charge are separate. You still have to pay the congestion charge if you drive in a congestion zone, as well as the ULEZ.