The London Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) covers a large area of the capital – and it’s due to expand. So what is the ULEZ, how much does it cost and do you need to pay?
To answer these questions and more, here’s our quick ULEZ guide. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us in the comments below.
What is the ULEZ?
Like the long-established Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ), the Ultra Low Emissions Zone is an area of central London that some drivers must pay to enter or travel within.
Entering the ULEZ costs £12.50 and, unlike the Congestion Charge (which costs £11.50), the fee applies no matter what time of day you travel. The ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, and every day of the year apart from Christmas day.
As we’ll explain, the ULEZ is also due to expand outwards.
London ULEZ: which vehicles are affected?
Only petrol cars meeting Euro 4 emissions standard and diesel cars meeting Euro 6 emissions standard, are exempt from paying the ULEZ charge of £12.50 per day.
That’s on top of the £11.50 London Congestion Charge, don’t forget (see below).
It also applies to vans, minibuses, coaches, lorries and other heavy vehicles. For motorcycles, it’s Euro 3 or above that are exempt.
The Euro 4 standard became mandatory for all new cars in 2005. Euro 6 was introduced for all cars and light vans from September 2015 (January 2014 for larger vehicles). Euro 3 came into effect for motorcycles in 2007.
Vehicles usually liable for the ULEZ charge
Petrol cars and vans: pre-2006
Diesel cars and vans: pre-2015
As you can see, many older petrol-powered cars will be exempt. But even owners of five-year-old diesel cars may be liable to pay the ULEZ.
You can check whether your vehicle is compliant by entering your registration on the TfL website.
London ULEZ: where and when
The ULEZ covers the same area as the current CCZ – seen in yellow above. It’s a relatively small patch in central London below Camden, cutting through Westminster, to the left of Tower Hamlets and above Southwark. It covers 8.1 square miles and makes up just 1.3 percent of Greater London.
However, the ULEZ will get bigger in October 2021, when the North and South Circular roads will serve as the new boundaries (the light green area). While the Congestion Charge stops just before Camden, for example, the ULEZ post-October 2021 will cut off part-way into Barnet.
On the Transport for London (TfL) website, it states that: ‘If you are driving any petrol or diesel vehicle within this enlarged area, you will need to meet new tighter emissions standards or pay a daily charge’.
Do I need to pay the ULEZ charge?
We have a guide explaining how to check if you need to pay the ULEZ charge.
Those who live within the ULEZ catchment area, and who are registered for the Congestion Charge discount, will not have to pay in full until 24 October 2021. This gives drivers chance to buy an exempt vehicle.
However, owners of pre-Euro 4 vehicles will continue to pay the T-Charge (Toxicity Charge) at a discounted 90 percent rate.
Wait, what – Toxicity Charge? What’s that? Don’t worry, we have a guide to the London T-Charge, too…
London ULEZ: how much does it cost?
The ULEZ charge is £12.50, payable by anyone in a vehicle that isn’t compliant, whatever time of day they enter. It’s £100 per day to enter for non-compliant vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.
A key point to note: the charge doesn’t buy you 24 hours in the ULEZ. The clock restarts at midnight, so if you drive into the zone at 11pm and leave at 3am the next day, you’ll be expected to pay £25 – or £200 if you’re in a non-compliant vehicle over 3.5 tonnes.
What’s more, if you’re in the area when the Congestion Charge is applicable, the ULEZ charge is paid in addition to the C-Charge. The ULEZ charge does, however, completely replace the current Emissions Surcharge (T-Charge).
As you’d expect, if the fee isn’t paid, a Penalty Charge Notice will be sent out to the registered keeper of the vehicle.
How can I avoid the London ULEZ?
Navigation app Waze allows London residents to enter whether their vehicle is exempt or not. If it isn’t, the app will automatically guide you around the ULEZ/C-charge zone so you don’t have to pay.
For now, so long as you don’t drive into the Congestion Zone area, you’ll avoid ULEZ. In subsequent years, it won’t be quite so straightforward to avoid it…