Ultra Low Emission Zone – The London Pollution Charge Explained 2019

by Sarah Portet | Reading Time 2 mins

ulez explained

On 8 April 2019 the new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into force in central London.

Drivers of older, high polluting vehicles are being charged to enter the congestion zone and it applies 24hrs a day, every day.

Phase 2 will extend the zone to the boundaries of the north circular and south circular from 25 October 2021.

Which Vehicles Have to Pay the Charge?

The ULEZ scheme uses the European emission standards which has required new car models to meet stringent exhaust pollution limits since the early 1990s. The charge is based on the emissions of the vehicle rather than the age of the vehicle.

Broadly if your car meets the following you should not need to pay the charge.

  • Petrol cars and vans must be Euro 4. Vehicles first registered from 2006 onwards should meet the standards. However some vehicles have been available at these standards since 2001.
  • Diesel cars and vans must be Euro 6. Vehicles first registered from 2015 onwards should meet the standards.

You can check whether your vehicle is liable for a charge by entering its registration on the Transport for London website.

Most vehicles which are not compliant will have to pay £12.50 for entering the area each day, in addition to the congestion charge.

Anybody who does not pay the charge will face a fine of £160, although a first offence may result in only a warning letter.

Exemptions from the Charge

Residents are exempt until 24 October 2021 to give them time to change their vehicle to meet the new emission standards. However if residents drive a vehicle that doesn’t meet the T-Charge emission standards they will continue to pay at a discounted rate of 90%.

Keepers of vehicles registered with a ‘disabled’ or ‘disabled passenger vehicles’ tax class will benefit from a grace period after the ULEZ starts. They’ll be exempt from the ULEZ charge until 26 October 2025 as long as their vehicle doesn’t change tax class.

London-licensed taxis are exempt from ULEZ charges.

Designated wheelchair-accessible PHVs will be granted a grace period until 26 October 2025 – during this period designated wheelchair-accessible PHVs used to carry out a private hire booking will be exempt from the ULEZ daily charge. These vehicles will only be exempt when carrying out a private hire booking for a TfL-licensed PHV operator.

All vehicles that have a historic vehicle tax class will be exempt from the ULEZ. This tax class excludes any vehicle used commercially (for example, coffee vans or street food vans).

Why is it being implemented?

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said it was “important we make progress” in tackling the capital’s toxic air.

The aim of ULEZ is to bring down pollution levels in the city and to bring down pollution related health problems, by reducing the number of polluting cars in the capital.  TFL estimate 40,000 vehicles will be affected every day.

TfL estimates the initial scheme will lead to a reduction in toxic emissions from road transport by about 45% in two years, and the plan is to be compliant with legal limits by 2025.


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