Home Advice Driving in London at Christmas: how to avoid charges

Driving in London at Christmas: how to avoid charges

Christmas congestion charge

We are well into the festive period now, to the point that you’re not even allowed to complain about Christmas music.

For shopping, social occasions and more, many will be driving into London over Christmas. If that means you, here’s what you need to know about charges and when to pay them.

Congestion Charge at ChristmasChristmas congestion charge

Be selective about your visits to London and you won’t need to pay the Congestion Charge. For starters, you never need to pay between 6pm and 7am. Weekends are also free, as are Bank Holidays.

Two of those Bank Holidays are Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The difference here is that these act as goal posts for a fallow period for the Congestion Charge. Driving into London from 6:01pm on Christmas Eve until 6:59am on January 2 is free of the charge.

It’s worth remembering that outside of this period, weekends fall on 21-22 December, and 4-5 January. So if you’re all tied up between Christmas and New Year, there’s still hope.

Congestion charge – what you’ll pay

If you need to pay, there are still ways you can save. Forward-planning can save you a couple of quid, useful for a winter-warming brew.

Signing up for Congestion Charge Auto Pay will mean you pay £10.50. If you pay in advance, or by midnight on the day of your visit, it’ll set you back £11.50. But if you wait until midnight the next day, the full £14 is payable. Motorbikes, mopeds and bicycles are exempt from the Congestion Charge.

Christmas congestion charge

Not paying the C-Charge when it is due will incur a fine of £160. If you pay within 14 days of the charge being issued, a 50 percent discount will be granted, for a fine of £80.

The ULEZ and Christmas

The Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) covers the same area as the Congestion Charge, until it expands in October 2021.

Unlike the C-Charge however, it doesn’t have off days. If your vehicle isn’t ULEZ exempt, you will need to pay, regardless of when you are in London.

Find out whether you’re liable to pay the ULEZ charge with our guide.

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