ULEZ and Congestion charge: Can I drive through London?

ULEZ and Congestion charge: Can I drive through London?

06/22/2022

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The Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) say they are working together to “help clean up London’s air” through the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The Congestion Charge is similarly in place to encourage motorists to use other modes of transport, and according to TfL has “helped London become the only major city in the world to see a shift from private car use to public transport, walking and cycling”.

However, for those who need to use their car to get across the city, it can be yet another costly expense in the midst of a major cost of living crisis.

Both charges only apply to drivers who are passing through certain parts of the city.

There are also some caveats to each charge, for example, people with more environmentally-friendly cars may be exempt from the ULEZ charge.

What is the Congestion Charge?

The Congestion Charge is a £15 daily charge if you drive within the Congestion Charge zone between 7am and 6pm on Monday to Friday, or between 12pm and 6pm Saturday to Sunday and on bank holidays.

There is no charge between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Drivers who frequently pass through these routes can set up Auto Pay.

There are some exemptions and discounts applicable for certain people.

Residents who live within the Congestion Charge zone can qualify for a 90 percent discount.

Blue Badge holders are eligible to register for a 100 percent discount, even if they do not drive or own a vehicle.

Blue Badge holders can register up to two vehicles they would normally use to travel within the Congestion Charge zone.

Breakdown vehicles, vehicles with nine or more seats and motor tricycles less than two metres long can get a 100 percent discount.

Taxi and private hire vehicles, emergency service vehicles, two-wheeled motorbikes and mopeds, NHS vehicles, vehicles used by disabled people and vehicles for more than one disabled person are all exempt from the charge.

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What is the ULEZ?

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year (except Christmas Day).

The zone was expanded last year and now covers all areas within the North and South Circular Roads.

The North Circular (A406) and South Circular (A205) roads are not in the zone.

According to TfL: “Even if you make a short trip inside the zone using a vehicle that doesn’t meet the ULEZ emissions standards, you need to pay the £12.50 daily charge.

“This includes residents of the ULEZ.

“However, you don’t need to pay the ULEZ charge if you are parked inside the zone and don’t drive.”

There are some exemptions and discounts applicable for certain people.

Residents who live within the Congestion Charge zone can qualify for a 90 percent discount.

Blue Badge holders are eligible to register for a 100 percent discount, even if they do not drive or own a vehicle.

Blue Badge holders can register up to two vehicles they would normally use to travel within the Congestion Charge zone.

Breakdown vehicles, vehicles with nine or more seats and motor tricycles less than two metres long can get a 100 percent discount.

Taxi and private hire vehicles, emergency service vehicles, two-wheeled motorbikes and mopeds, NHS vehicles, vehicles used by disabled people and vehicles for more than one disabled person are all exempt from the charge.

Most vehicles need to meet the ULEZ emissions standard or pay a £12.50 daily charge to drive inside the zone.

This includes cars, motorcycles, vans and specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) and minibuses (up to and including five tonnes).

Lorries, vans or specialist heavy vehicles (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses, minibuses or coaches (over five tonnes) do not need to pay the ULEZ charge.

They will need to pay a LEZ charge if they do not meet the LEZ emissions standard.

The ULEZ is enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle rather than the age.

However, TfL notes that petrol cars that meet the ULEZ standards are generally those first registered with the DVLA after 2005, although cars that meet the standards have been available since 2001.

Diesel cars that meet the standards are generally those first registered with the DVLA after September 2015.

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