Travel in London: What is ULEZ?

Travel in London: What is ULEZ?

Travel in London: What is ULEZ?
2nd October 2023

In April 2019, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, introduced the world’s toughest vehicle emissions standards in central London, with the goal of reducing toxic air pollution and protecting the health of Londoners. In October 2021, the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) was expanded to help improve the environment in the outskirts of the city. This is part of a number of measures introduced in the capital to help reverse the effects of climate change. Alongside encouraging cycling by improving and upgrading the cycle network, TFL has also established a fleet of around 9000 buses that meet the highest Euro VI emissions standards. This month, the ULEZ expanded further to now cover the entirety of Greater London to help tackle air pollution in the capital.

What is the ULEZ charge?

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is an area in London where a fee is charged for vehicles emitting high levels of pollution. The charge is aimed towards improving air quality in London and reducing emissions. ULEZ is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the only exception being Christmas Day.

With toxic air pollution being the biggest health risk to Londoners and traffic emissions the major contributor, ULEZ has been implemented to help reduce Nitrogen Dioxide levels by around 30% in the city.

Already 9 out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London meet the ULEZ emissions standards. To see if your vehicle does, use the TFL vehicle checker.

How much does the ULEZ charge cost?

The ULEZ charge is £12.50 for cars, smaller vans, motorcycles and other lighter vehicles and is payable up to 90 days in advance. You must have paid by midnight on the third day following your journey.

What happens if I don’t pay the ULEZ charge?

Failure to pay the ULEZ charge could result in getting a Penalty Notice Charge (PCN). You may be issued with a penalty notice if your vehicle does not meet emissions standards and you are not exempt. Likewise, failure to pay the ULEZ charge within three days post travel, paying for an incorrect registration plate, paying for an incorrect date of travel, or paying by post less than 10 days before travel can leave you open to receiving a penalty. You may also receive a penalty if your vehicle has not been registered with TFL. The Penalty Notice Charge is £160 or £180 if paid within 14 days.

As of 21st August 2023, a £160 million ULEZ scrapping scheme was introduced by Transport for London making any Londoner with a non-compliant car eligible for a £2,000 grant. This option allows for Londoners to apply for their car to be scrapped for them to then receive a £2,000 grant.

When and where does ULEZ apply?

The ULEZ charge is in operation 24 hours a day, with a daily charge running through from midnight to midnight. If you drive within the ULEZ area across two days, you will be liable to pay two daily charges. The ULEZ charge is applied in a much larger proportion of London than the congestion charge, and also applies to residents living inside the zone. ULEZ covers all areas within the North and South Circular roads, with the map below highlighting the area in which the ULEZ zone is in operation. From 29th August 2023, the area has expanded again to now cover the entire area of Greater London.

How do I pay the ULEZ charge?

The easiest way to pay the ULEZ charge is to pay online at Transport for London. The TFL Pay to drive in London app is an alternative method of payment, as is the London Road User Charging account. You can also phone TFL on 0343 222 2222 to pay the ULEZ.

Are there any ULEZ exemptions or discounts?

Some drivers and/or vehicles quality for discounts or exemptions from the ULEZ charge. Firstly, vehicles registered with a ‘disabled’ or ‘disabled passenger vehicle’ tax will be exempt from the charge until 26th October 2025. Secondly, London taxis and minibuses used for community purposes are also exempt. More information on discounts and exemptions from the ULEZ charge can be found on the TFL website

ULEZ map of London
2023 ULEZ map

How do I avoid the ULEZ charge?

Simply put, the easiest way to avoid paying the ULEZ charge is to ensure that your vehicle emits an acceptable level of emissions. The acceptable ULEZ standards are:

  • Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles (L category)
  • Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles.
  • Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and minibuses and other specialist vehicles

If it does not, you may wish to take advantage of the excellent transport links in the city. The tube and London buses offer more efficient (and also more cost effective) methods of travel in central London and also help to lessen the environmental impact on the city. To plan a journey across London on public transport, be sure to check out the TFL journey planner

With all this in mind it is important to remember that London is a busy metropolis with a variety of transport options to get you around the city. For more information go to Transport for London and learn more about how this big city is making more sustainable efforts.

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