What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ Charge)?
After a High Court ruling, Sadiq Khan’s plan to expand London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will advance. He has also announced a £110m scrappage scheme, helping people to replace their vehicles with new ones that meet ULEZ standards.
Almost all petrol cars built after 2011 and diesel produced after 2015 are ULEZ compliant. You can find out more on TfL’s website.
|ULEZ Charging Times
|Congestion Charge (CC)
Operates 07:00-18:00 Monday-Friday, 12:00-18:00 Saturday-Sunday and bank holidays. No charge between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day bank holiday (inclusive)
Operates 24 hours a day, midnight to midnight, every day of the year, except Christmas Day (25 December)
Operates 24 hours a day, midnight to midnight, every day of the year
|Direct Vision Standard (DVS) and HGV Safety Permit
Operates at all times for lorries over 12 tonnes gross vehicle weight
What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)?
The Ultra-Low Emission Zone is a scheme by Transport for London to reduce harmful air pollution in the city centre. By limiting vehicle emissions, it is hoped that the number of deaths and illnesses linked to toxic air will decrease, allowing people to live healthier lives.
ULEZ, which stands for Ultra Low Emission Zone, is a term used primarily in the context of transportation and environmental policy in the United Kingdom, specifically in London. It represents a specific area within London where vehicles must meet strict emissions standards to enter. The main aim of ULEZ is to reduce air pollution in the city by encouraging the use of vehicles that produce fewer emissions.
In the ULEZ, vehicles must meet specific emissions standards, typically regarding the amount of harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) they emit. If a vehicle does not meet these standards, its owner may be required to pay a daily fee to drive within the ULEZ area.
The ULEZ policy is part of broader efforts to improve air quality and reduce the environmental impact of transportation in London and other cities in the UK. Drivers must check whether their vehicles comply with ULEZ standards if they plan to drive within the designated zones to avoid fines or charges.
Why Was ULEZ Introduced?
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are created when fossil fuels burn, releasing harmful chemicals into the air. The lungs can absorb these, damaging the cardiovascular system and causing respiratory problems. They are also linked to dementia and depression and cause more than a million cases of lung disease every year in the UK.
By limiting the amount of NOx produced, ULEZ will improve the overall health and well-being of Londoners. This is especially important for vulnerable groups such as young children, older people and those with existing respiratory conditions.
The ULEZ focuses on road traffic emissions of NOx and PM. PM is a fine particulate that can cause severe breathing problems and increase the risk of heart disease. The ULEZ targets diesel and petrol vehicles that produce high levels of these pollutants, reducing the amount of dangerous gases released into the atmosphere.
Since the ULEZ was first introduced in 2021, NOx concentrations at monitoring sites have dropped by 44%. However, the reductions seen for PM are less significant as PM concentrations at most monitoring stations have fluctuated widely over recent years and depend on seasonal factors and regional pollution transport effects (Greater London Authority 2020a).
How Do I Know if My Vehicle is ULEZ Compliant?
If you own a vehicle that doesn’t meet the ULEZ emissions standards, you must pay to use it in London.
- Diesel cars that meet ULEZ requirements are generally newer models registered with the DVLA after September 2015, while petrol-powered vehicles should have been first used in 2006.
- If you need help determining what emissions standards your car meets, enter your registration number on this website to check its compliance status.
- You can also find out more by checking your vehicle’s Euro emission standard, which limits the amount of certain chemicals emitted from a vehicle’s exhaust pipe. These include nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which can cause health issues such as asthma.
- If you own an older model, you can usually find the emission standard on your vehicle’s V5C logbook or in section D.
- Electric cars and hybrids that are ULEZ compliant will emit zero CO2.
The ULEZ covers a vast area of the capital, encompassing everything inside the North and South Circular roads, which serve as London’s orbital motorways. It’s well-signposted as you approach the zone and is policed by hundreds of number-plate reading cameras. Drivers who use non-compliant vehicles in the zone face a penalty charge of £160, which is reduced to £80 if paid within two weeks. This is in addition to the ULEZ entry charge.
What Happens if I Drive a Non-Compliant Vehicle in the ULEZ?
The ULEZ is signposted and policed by hundreds of number-plate reading cameras as you enter and exit the zone. No physical barrier prevents you from entering, but a penalty notice will land in your letterbox if you fail to pay the entry fee and drive a non-compliant car. The mayor has set up a scrappage scheme to help drivers get rid of older vehicles and move to a newer model.
For private motorists, the simplest way to avoid paying the ULEZ charge is to buy a vehicle that meets Euro 6 standards or better. However, as the cost of petrol cars has risen in recent years, this is only an option for some people. Business owners have several options, including leasing or financing vehicles through an alternative finance provider.
For residents in London, the mayor has set up a scrappage scheme that offers incentives to drive a compliant vehicle. To qualify, you need to live in one of the 32 London boroughs or the City of London and own an eligible vehicle, defined as a petrol car that doesn’t meet Euro 4 standards or a diesel that fails to meet Euro 6 standards. There are also incentives to scrap and replace a van or minibus or retrofit those vehicles with electric technology.
How Do I Pay the ULEZ Charge?
If you drive through the ULEZ zone in a non-compliant vehicle, you must pay a charge to do so. This is a daily charge, and it’s designed to discourage drivers from driving through the zone in vehicles that don’t meet the required emissions standards. It’s also intended to help fund the replacement of older vehicles with cleaner ones.
Drivers have three days to pay the ULEZ charge incurred after a journey through the zone or face a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). If you get caught without paying, the penalty costs up to £180 and can double if not paid within 28 days.
For most people, paying the ULEZ is a simple process. It’s similar to paying for the Congestion Charge, and you can do it in just two taps on our app, Caura. You can also pre-pay for a trip up to 90 days in advance, so there’s no need to worry about missing your deadline.
If you regularly travel through the ULEZ, we recommend setting up AutoPay to take your charges from your account automatically. This makes them easier to manage and avoids forgetting to pay a charge or accidentally paying for the wrong day. You can set up AutoPay for up to five vehicles, or businesses can use Fleet Auto Pay.
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