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ULEZ expands to whole of London - car not compliant? You could get £2k to scrap it

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has come into force across the whole of London - check here if your car is compliant and if you qualify for the £2,000 scrappage scheme.

ULEZ zone

The ULEZ area has now doubled in size to take in all London boroughs.

Anyone driving into the zone in a vehicle that doesn't meet emissions requirements must pay £12.50 each day they’re on the road.

The scheme has been introduced to clean up the capital's air, but many people beyond the nine million who live in London are being affected.

Although the M25 is not included in the zone, many people who live in the neighbouring counties, such as Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire and Surrey, drive in and out of the edges of London every day.

Heathrow Airport, which attracts passengers from across the country, is also included in the zone.

Is my car ULEZ compliant? ULEZ checker

About 10 percent of vehicles driven in the new ULEZ area are thought to be affected by the charge.

The majority of cars and vans affected are likely to be diesel as acceptable standards for emissions from petrol vehicles were brought in nearly a decade before the limits on diesel vehicles, meaning many will now be off the road.

Diesel cars must meet 'Euro 6' standards and it's mostly cars registered since 2015 that will avoid the charge.

Petrol vehicles must meet Euro 4, 5, or 6 standards - and cars registered from 2006 generally do.

However, some cars registered after these dates may still not be compliant.

To check if your car is compliant with the ULEZ, you can enter your registration into the TFL checker, here.

Motorbikes and mopeds are also not exempt from ULEZ. Motorbikes and mopeds (along with motorised tricycles and quadricycles) must meet Euro 3 standards or higher, or pay the same £12.50 tariff.

ULEZ is in operation every day midnight to midnight except on Christmas Day.

How long does ULEZ charge last? How to pay

The ULEZ operating day runs from midnight to midnight. Unfortunately paying the charge does not give you 24-hour access to the zone. You will only be able to drive in it on the same fee until midnight that day. Once you drive past midnight you will be charged again. Here are two examples.

Scenario one:

You drive to meet friends in a ULEZ area at 8pm. You lose track of time and end up driving home at 12.01am. Because your second journey is outside the original midnight-midnight operating hours, you will be charged twice.

Scenario two:

You're moving house and need to drive within the ULEZ to transport your stuff. You make three trips from your old house to the new house between 10am and 6pm. Because they are all within the midnight-midnight operating hours, you are only charged once.

You can either pay before you drive, or within 90 days of your journey. To pay for ULEZ click here.

You can also set up an automated payment where TfL charges you automatically if you travel within ULEZ, the London Emission Zone or the Congestion Charge area.

What can I do if my car doesn't comply with ULEZ?

  1. The first option is to suck it up and pay the fee. If you're not going to be driving within London very often you may just take it on the chin.

  2. Take public transport. One of the aims of ULEZ is to encourage people to take more public transport, or walk or cycle. It's better for the environment and walking or cycling is good for your health. You can scrap your old car and get cash and up to two adult annual bus passes under the TfL’s scrappage scheme – more on that below.

  3. Use the scrappage scheme. If your vehicle isn't compliant and you live in London you could qualify for a £2,000 cash payment to get rid of your car or van – or more if you’re someone with a disability or a business. More on that below.

  4. Sell your car. It may be more economical to sell your car or trade it in if it is worth more than the £2,000 scrappage incentive. But as the vehicle is not compliant with ULEZ, you might want to find a way to sell it to someone outside London.

  5. Hire a car. You can hire cars for as little as an hour at a time in London. However, take into account extra charges if you go over the permitted mileage limits. Make sure to check the level of car insurance you get when you hire the vehicle, and if you are happy with how comprehensive it is.

  6. Save car costs in other ways. You can't get away from car tax and fuel costs, but you can save money on insurance. We've looked at the cheapest car insurance companies in London here to help you save money.

ULEZ scrappage scheme - how does it work?

The ULEZ scrappage scheme encourages Londoners to get rid of their high-emissions vehicles in exchange for £2,000 in cash - or £1,000 for motorcycles. You can get more if you have a disability or run a business or charity.

This scheme used to just be for those with a disability or on benefits, but it has recently been extended to all Londoners due to the expansion of the ULEZ.

Unfortunately the scrappage scheme is only for people who live within the 32 London boroughs, which doesn't help those who work on the periphery of the capital and regularly drive in.

Londoners also need to have owned the vehicle on January 30 2022 and have a valid insurance, tax and MOT. It must be registered to a London address.

This evidence needs to be sent to TfL along with a certificate from the scrapyard to prove it has been destroyed.

TfL will assess and if successful will send the payment by cheque.

You can supersize your reward by opting for an annual bus and tram pass. You will get £1,600 cash and one adult bus pass, or £1,200 and two passes, which TfL says is worth £3,000.

Those with wheelchair-accessible vehicles can receive £10,000 to scrap their vehicle, or £6,000 to upgrade the engine on a current vehicle to meet ULEZ requirements.

Small businesses and charities can apply for a grant between £6,000 and £11,500 to replace a van or minibus or retrofit the engine to achieve ULEZ standards.

The scrappage scheme will end when the money runs out. As of August 2023, there was thought to be about £120 million in funds still to claim.

For more information on the scrappage scheme, click here.

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

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