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London ULEZ Daily Charge, Location and 2021 Expansion

London ULEZ daily charge, payment options and area of operation summarised as the city works to reduce pollution.

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) minimises the traffic pollution that causes health issues and damages the planet. Motorists pay a daily charge to enter the ULEZ if their vehicle has high emissions. The purpose of the charge is to encourage you to pick a less polluting vehicle that gets in for free or use public transport.

ULEZ Charge

The London ULEZ charge applies 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The only exception is December 25th. You will be charged to enter if your vehicle does not meet its related emission standard, such as if you drive a Euro 6 diesel powered car, for instance. Or Euro 4 for a petrol car. The Transport for London website enables you to enter your vehicle’s registration number to establish whether you have to pay.

The charge is £12.50 per day for most vehicles. This includes a car, van, motorbike, or van up to 3.5 tonnes. The charge rises to £100 for heavier vehicles such as a lorry over 3.5 tonnes, a bus over 5 tonnes, or a coach over 5 tonnes. To be clear, there is no charge to enter in any such vehicle if it has low enough emissions.

ULEZ Zone Map

The London ULEZ operates within the Inner Ring Road that is signposted ‘Ring Road’ at street level. However, the Ring Road itself is not inside the chargeable area. The boundary will soon become larger, though. On October 25th 2021, it will stretch to – but not specifically include – the North Circular and South Circular Roads. In other words, the A406 and the A205 respectively.

London ULEZ map

How to pay ULEZ charge

The London ULEZ operates via a system that scans your vehicle’s number plate, calculates its emissions, then charges you if necessary. If convenient, you can pay manually per trip via the Transport for London website. Do so by midnight on the third day after a journey or up to 90 days ahead. Alternatively, use ‘auto pay’ if you prefer a single monthly payment that covers every trip.

ULEZ Is in Operation: Here's What You Need to Know About London's Ultra Low Emission Zone

London is fighting back, to leave a cleaner environment for the capital’s future generations

ULEZ Is in Operation: Here's What You Need to Know About London's Ultra Low Emission Zone Image 1

As our cities get busier, emissions from vehicles have been creeping up. London is fighting back, working to improve air quality, address health issues and leave a cleaner environment for the capital’s future generations.

To that end, the Mayor of London has introduced the Ultra Low Emission Zone over a large swathe of Central London. It sits alongside the existing Congestion Charge Zone, meaning anybody entering in a chargeable vehicle will be required to pay both the Congestion Charge and the new ULEZ fee.

Is my car ULEZ compliant?

It’s not an exact marker, but if your car is a diesel-powered model and built before September 2015, then it’s likely you’ll have to pay the fee. Likewise, driving a petrol-powered model built before 2005 is also likely to be chargeable.

It’s all to do with the specific emissions regulations your car meets. Diesels need to meet Euro 6 standard, while petrol driven cars only need to meet Euro 4. However, to confuse matters, some cars met the Euro 4 standards as long ago as 2000.

There are also separate regulations for motorcycles and trucks, while classic car drivers can rejoice; vehicles built before 1979 with historical vehicle tax status are entirely exempt.

The simplest way of finding out if your car will be hit by the ULEZ charge is with your vehicle registration number.

Where & when?

The current ULEZ sits precisely over the Congestion Charge Zone, which means an area of central London that covers just over eight square miles. However, the ULEZ zone is set to change in 2021 when it extends to cover the area within the north and south circular roads.

Unlike the Congestion Charge, the ULEZ fee applies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so any late night runs into the city will still require a credit card.

How much is the charge, and what happens if I don’t pay?

If you’re in a non-compliant car, then you’ll be hit with a £12.50 fee to enter the ULEZ area, whatever time of day you arrive. Time those late night runs carefully though, as that fee applies for each calendar day; arrive at 23:50 and you’ll get just ten minutes before another £12.50 becomes due.

Venture into the centre of London during the week, specifically between 07:00 and 18:00, then the Congestion Charge is also payable, adding an extra £11.50 on top of the ULEZ fee. A short journey into Picaddilly could cost you as much as £24.

Tempted to save some cash and hope you get away with it? With automatic Penalty Charge Notice, or fine, of £160 for not paying the ULEZ fee, you might want to think twice about that. The same penalty charge applies to non-payment of the Congestion Charge too, leaving drivers facing a potential bill of £320 for each day in the zone without payment. Cough up quickly and that charge is reduced by 50%, but it’s still a steep bill.

ULEZ Is in Operation: Here's What You Need to Know About London's Ultra Low Emission Zone Image 2

How can I pay?

Making payment is easy enough, but you only get until midnight the following day to give Transport for London your money. The easiest way to cover payments for both the Congestion Charge and the ULEZ fee is to set up automatic payments at the TfL Auto Pay website. For an annual fee of £10 per vehicle, you’ll never need to remember to pay either charge as it’ll be debited from a card automatically.

Occasional users might be better served with the TfL Pay to drive in London app that’s available at both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. You’ll be able to check vehicle eligibility here, look at exactly which roads are covered, and make payments for each charge. Congestion charge online payments can also be made at TfL’s Pay to Drive in London website.

Are there any discounts available?

If you happen to live in the ULEZ zone, you have until 24 October 2021 to either save money to pay the daily fee or switch to a suitably compliant vehicle.

Disabled drivers with a vehicle registered in the 'disabled' or 'disabled passenger vehicles' tax classes will be exempt until 26 October 2025. Importantly, simply having a blue badge does not exempt a vehicle owner from paying the charge.

Find out if your car is exempt from ULEZ charges

Can I avoid the fee?

Other than driving a compliant car, not really. Of course, even driving something that’s eligible now is no guarantee for the future as emissions regulations tighten and control becomes stricter.

Ensuring your car meets the latest ULEZ 2021 emission regulations means you’ll escape the clutches of the congestion charge. Helpfully, many manufacturers are offering scrappage schemes to those trading in older non-compliant vehicles, with Kia knocking up to £2,500 off selected models, while MG will provide as much as £2,000 towards the newly-revised 3 model. Hyundai extended that to up to £4,000, including £2,500 off the Ioniq Hybrid.

ULEZ Is in Operation: Here's What You Need to Know About London's Ultra Low Emission Zone Image 3

Switching to a zero emission vehicle is the only sure-fire way to avoid increasingly restrictive or expensive ULEZs, either in London or beyond, with a number of more affordable electric cars now available. The Kia e-Niro will escape both the London ULEZ and Congestion Charge, and provide up to 282-miles of emissions free motoring, while Hyundai’s Kona Electric gets a near-identical 279-mile range. MG’s new ZS EV arrives soon, providing a more budget conscious SUV proposition, while a range of Volkswagen, Audi and SEAT electric cars are arriving, covering everything from city cars to luxury SUVs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Ultra-Low Emission Zone, often shortened to ULEZ, is an area of London, within the inner ring road where you are charged daily for driving a high-emission vehicle. Most non-electric cars pay £12.50 per day, with heavier vehicles reaching up to £100. This initiative was designed to reduce pollution.

Diesel-based vehicles need to meet the Euro 6 standard, which applies to most cars built since September 2015. Petrol-based vehicles must reach the Euro 4 standard, which is the case for most cars built after 2005. There are separate regulations for trucks and motorcycles, while classic cars are exempt from the ULEZ charge.

Although it may be possible to change from a non-compliant engine to a compliant one, the cost of the upgrade and recertifying is likely to be prohibitive.

The most straightforward way of finding out whether you must pay ULEZ is by checking via your registration number. If you enter the zone, you will have to pay by midnight on the third day. Otherwise, you might be risking a penalty charge notice of about £160.

Every day except Christmas, starting with 7:00 and ending with 22:00, the ULEZ zone mandates a congestion charge. The daily fee amounts to £15, with motorbikes, bikes and mopeds being exempt. It has nothing to do with the number of emissions, but the time of day you're driving.

London's congestion charge zone currently covers the following areas, which coincide with the ULEZ map:

  • City of London
  • Charing Cross
  • London Bridge
  • Euston
  • Covent Garden
  • Fitzrovia
  • Soho
  • Mayfair
  • Waterloo
  • St. James's
  • St. Pancras
  • Clerkenwell
  • Barbican
  • Bloomsbury
  • Borough
  • Holborn
  • Finsbury
  • Parts of Marylebone, Lambeth and Southwark
  • Westminster

For every day except Christmas, on December 25, if you’re driving in the congestion charge zone at any point from 7:00 to 22:00 then you must pay the Congestion Charge. People living in the zone are 90% exempt, blue badge holders are 100% exempt, as are disabled drivers.

Exemptions include:

  • Motorbikes and moped
  • Emergency service vehicles
  • NHS vehicles
  • Disabled persons’ vehicles or ones transporting them
  • Taxis, so long as they’re licensed
  • Operational vehicles used by the London boroughs
  • Port authorities’ vehicles
  • Armed forces vehicles
  • Vehicles of breakdown organizations
  • The Royal Parks Agency
  • HM Coastguard’s vehicles

Electric cars benefit from the cleaner vehicle discount (formerly known as ULED), provided they meet the Euro 6 standard, have a minimum of 20-mile zero-emission capability and emit upwards of 75g/km of CO2. Starting October 25 2021, only electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be eligible.

The congestion charge is paid easiest through Auto Pay, where at the end of the month your linked payment card will be deducted for the number of days spent within the congestion charge area, as well as any ULEZ payments. It’s possible to also pay 90 days in advance via phone, online or through text.