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As pollution levels have escalated in London over time, various initiatives have been launched by consecutive governments aiming to mitigate this issue. The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) stands as the latest effort, introduced by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in 2019. Initially confined to central London, the scheme is set to expand significantly, impacting a broader range of motorists. If your vehicle falls within the ULEZ area, understanding how to manage your ULEZ charges becomes crucial. Here’s what you should know:

Understanding ULEZ

The ULEZ requires drivers of certain vehicles, deemed as pollutants by the government, to pay a fee for entering specific zones. While newer petrol-engine cars and vans might escape the charge thanks to modern emissions technology, most diesel engines will not be as fortunate. Compliance with Euro standards is a must, and you can verify whether your vehicle (be it a car, van, motorbike, lorry, or bus) is affected by checking online.

ULEZ Zone Expansion in 2021

Up until October 25, 2021, the ULEZ Zone encompasses central London, covering areas between Westminster, Camden, Tower Hamlets, and Southwark, also known as the Congestion Charge Zone. However, this is a separate fee. Post-October 25, the ULEZ will extend to the entire area within the North and South Circular Roads, imposing a daily fee on tens of thousands more motorists.

Unlike the Congestion Charge, the ULEZ fee is applicable 24/7 across its coverage zone.

ULEZ Charge Costs

The daily charge for cars, motorbikes, and small vans is £12.50, while larger vehicles like buses, coaches, and lorries face a £100 daily fee to navigate within the ULEZ boundaries.


Vehicles meeting stringent emissions standards are exempt, providing a significant incentive for upgrades. Historic vehicles over 40 years old and in the historic tax class, as well as disabled drivers’ vehicles (under certain conditions), enjoy exemptions. Additionally, private hire vehicles adapted for wheelchair access, and fulfilling specific conditions, are exempt until October 2025.

Paying the ULEZ Charge

  • Charges can be paid in advance or up to three days post-journey, with an option for up to 90 days pre-payment.
  • Online payments are possible via the ULEZ charge page, where setting up an account allows for both ULEZ and Congestion Charge payments based on vehicle number plates.
  • Auto Pay simplifies frequent travel within the zones by automating billing against a direct debit or linked card, with an annual £10 service charge.
  • The TfL app further facilitates Auto Pay setup, zone checks, penalty payments, and balance inquiries.
  • Traditional phone payments are available through TfL customer service.

Resident Discounts and Adjustments

Previously available resident discounts for the Congestion Charge, including a temporary ULEZ exemption, have ceased for new applicants and will conclude with the scheme’s expansion in October 2021.

Alterations to charge dates or vehicle details incur a £2.50 fee, while refunds for annual or monthly charges, full or partial, require prior notice, a £10 administrative fee, and specific documentation.

ULEZ Penalties

Enforcement via a camera network ensures compliance, with penalties set at £160, reduced to £80 if promptly paid.


The expansion of the ULEZ mandates that thousands more will need to consider the charges as part of their driving expenses within London. For many, this serves as a motivation to upgrade to a compliant vehicle, avoiding the charges and potential fines associated with non-compliance.