31 March 2023

ULEZ London – What You Need To Know

Traffic In London

If you live in London you may have heard of or already experienced ULEZ. Set to expand later this year, here are the ins and outs and how it may impact you.

What is ULEZ?

ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emission Zone and is a daily charge applied to vehicles that drive within the restricted areas of London and do not meet the emission standards. It operates at all times, 7 days a week except Christmas Day. The fee is £12.50 a day, meaning you will receive a new charge every day if you drive within the restricted zones.

The aim of this initiative is to limit the levels of pollutants emitted and help improve London’s air quality. Poor air quality can affect our health and research shows that road transport is still one of the biggest contributors of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions.

What vehicles are affected by ULEZ?

If your car does not comply with the requirements of the Ultra Low Emission Zone and is not exempt, you will be charged a fee for entering the designated area. This applies to cars, motorcycles, vans and minibuses up to and including 5 tonnes (parked cars are exempt).

Currently, diesel cars must meet the Euro 6 criteria and petrol cars must meet the Euro 4 criteria in order to limit the amount of Nitrogen oxide gas they release into the atmosphere. Broadly speaking, if your diesel vehicle was registered before September 2015 or petrol vehicle sold before January 2006, you will have to pay.

What vehicles are exempt?

Lorries, vans and specialist vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and buses, minibuses and coaches over 5 tonnes are all exempt and won’t have to pay the ULEZ charge. However, if they do not meet the LEZ (low emission zone emissions) standard then they will have to pay a daily charge ranging from £100-£300 depending on the vehicle type.

There is a handy tool provided by TFL where you can check if your vehicle meets emissions and safety standards to find out if you need to pay ULEZ or LEZ.

How do I know if I drove in a ULEZ zone?

When driving in a ULEZ area you will notice there are green signs that read ‘ULEZ at all times’. There are also signs at junctions leading up to the ULEZ zones along with cameras that check your vehicle’s details and emissions standard. TFL does not currently disclose the exact location of these cameras, so it’s best to keep your eyes out!

It’s also worth noting that with the zone expanding in August there will be more cameras around the greater London area, especially closer to the M25.

What happens if you go through ULEZ?

If you drive within the zone and your car does not meet the emission standards you have 3 days to pay the charge. If you fail to pay by midnight on the third day you will receive a penalty notice charge of £180 (reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days).

TFL does offer an Auto Pay system that bills you automatically when driving within the ULEZ or congestion charge zones, avoiding the risk of getting a penalty notice.

Is it the same as the congestion charge?

ULEZ initially operated in the same area as the congestion charge but they are in fact different. The congestion charge aims to reduce the amount of traffic in central London, regardless of emissions, whilst ULEZ focuses on reducing the amount of pollutants that are emitted from vehicles.

Is ULEZ expanding in 2023?

From 29th August 2023 ULEZ is set to expand across all London boroughs, covering all of Greater London. This will impact many people, especially commuters, so it’s important to make sure your car is compliant with ULEZ standards. If not, it may be worth considering a new car that is compliant or opt for public transport.

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