London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is now live. So when does it run? Will it expand? How much does it cost? Who is and what vehicles are exempt? How can I dodge it?
To answer all these questions and more, here’s our one-stop guide to London’s latest step towards cleaner urban air.
What is the ULEZ?
Like the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ), the Ultra Low Emissions Zone covers an area of London that drivers to have to pay to travel within.
Entering the ULEZ costs £12.50 and, unlike the Congestion Charge (which costs £11.50), the fee applies no matter what time you travel: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The ULEZ will expand in years to come, too.
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 (on top of the £11.50 London Congestion Charge – see below).
It also applies to vans, minibuses, coaches, lorries and other heavy vehicles. For motorbikes, it’s Euro 3 or above that is exempt, which will cause issues for many riders of older bikes.
Euro 4 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 bikes in 2007.
Quick guide: vehicles liable for ULEZ charges
- Petrol cars and vans: pre-2006
- Diesel cars and vans: pre-2015
- Motorbikes: pre-2007
Some drivers can take comfort from the fact that many older petrol-powered cars will be exempt. Diesel, as ever these days, is having a tough time of it: much newer diesel cars are obliged to pay the ULEZ.
Is a ULEV (ultra-low emission vehicle) necessarily exempt?
Confusingly, an ultra-low emission vehicle is not necessarily exempt from the ultra-low emission zone. We can’t think of any vehicles that fall into the former category that aren’t exempt, but this is the case if we’re to believe a statement on Transport for London’s website.
‘A ULEV is defined as a vehicle that emits less than 75g of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre travelled and is capable of at least 10 miles of zero-emission driving.
A ULEV vehicle is not the same thing as a vehicle that meets the requirements of the Mayor of London ultra low emission zone (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. 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. 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 also 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”.
How do I check if I need to pay the ULEZ charge?
We have a guide on how to check if you need to pay the ULEZ charge. You can also see below whether your area is affected.
You can check whether your area is affected by entering your postcode on the TfL website.
Those who live within the ULEZ catchment area, who are registered for the Congestion Charge discount, will not have to pay in full until the 24th of October 2021. This gives them the chance to get into an exempt vehicle.
However, they will have to continue to pay the T-Charge (toxicity charge) at a discounted 90 percent rate.
Wait, what – Toxicitiy Charge? What’s that? Don’t worry, we have a guide to the London T-Charge too…
London ULEZ – how much is it?
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?
A new update to Waze will allow London residents using the app 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…