ULEZ and clean air zones in the UK. What are they? Where are they? How much do they cost to drive in? How do you pay?
Is my car exempt from ULEZ charge? Do electric cars pay congestion charge? How many Clean Air Zones are there? Read our Ultimate EV Guide to ULEZ to answer all your questions and discover why switching to electric can be good for the environment and your pocket.
What is ULEZ?The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is a road user charging scheme in London that was first announced in 2015 and then officially introduced in April 2019. It was brought in to reduce air pollution in the city, principally by charging drivers of vehicles that do not meet acceptable emissions standards.
Over the last four years, ULEZ has been expanded from central London to the North and South Circular roads, and in August 2023 to cover all of Greater London.
What’s the daily charge of ULEZ?The daily charge for driving in the zone as of August 2023 is £12.50 for cars, vans, motorcycles, and minibuses. While trucks and buses are charged a higher rate of £100 per day. If you are a regular driver into London, it may be worth considering upgrading your vehicle or registering for the exemption scheme. Paying the charge just once a week would cost around £650 a year, while the costs skyrocket to around £3,500 per year for daily use.
Do electric cars pay ULEZ charges?
Electric cars emit zero emissions which means they are 100% exempt from ULEZ and Clean Air Zone charges.
There are a number of other exemptions from the ULEZ charge, including:
- Vehicles that meet the Euro 6 emissions standard for diesel cars and vans, or the Euro 4 emissions standard for petrol cars and vans.
- Motorcycles and mopeds that meet the Euro 3 emissions standard.
- Vehicles that are registered as historic vehicles.
- Vehicles that are used for emergency services or by disabled drivers.
Can I get a grant towards an electric car?The ULEZ expansion and scrappage scheme provides grant payments up to £2000 to successful applicants to switch to cleaner, greener modes of transport.
London residents, small businesses under 50 employees, micro businesses with less than 10 employees, sole traders and charities with a registered London address may apply. You must have an eligible vehicle, while further payments are available for commercial vehicles. Find out more at https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/scrappage-schemes
What’s the Congestion Charge?The Congestion Charge is a separate scheme to ULEZ. It was introduced in 2003 to reduce congestion and pollution in the centre of London. The charging area now extends from Kings Cross in the north to Elephant and Castle in the south, Hyde Park Corner in the west and Old Street roundabout to the east. The zone is signposted by a red disc containing a white letter c.
Are electric cars exempt from the Congestion Charge?If you drive an electric car or a vehicle emitting less than 75/km of CO2, you’re exempt from the daily £15 charge (August 2023). However, you have to register for the Cleaner Vehicle Discount in order to benefit this. You can also get a full discount if you are registered disabled and a 90% discount if you are a resident of the Charge Zone area.
However, from December 2025, electric cars will no longer be exempt from the charge. According to Transport for London, this rule change is designed to encourage people to take public transport or to cycle. If you do need to pay it, you can do so online, by phone, text message or by using the Transport for London Pay to Drive app, downloadable for free at Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Failure to pay will result in a penalty charge notice.
Is the Congestion Charge 24 hours?
The Congestion Charge is in effect from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday to Friday, and from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm Saturday, Sunday, and Bank Holidays. There is no charge between Christmas Day and New Year's Day bank holidays (inclusive).
Do other places operate Clean Air Zones?
As the UK moves towards Net Zero and as pollution in cities is increasingly linked to health concerns, other towns and cities are now adopting Clean Air Zones. In August 2023, there were 7 other zones in Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Tyneside.
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