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The Ultra Low Emission Zone Explained for Car Owners

Find out who pays the new Ultra Low Emission Zone charge and where it applies, so you're not caught out. By failing to pay a ULEZ charge by midnight on the day you travel (or by Monday if you drive in the zone of a weekend), you'll be hit by £160 penalty. While this would be halved to £80 if you pay within 14 days, no one wants to pay more than necessary.

What is the New Ultra Low Emission Zone Charge?

When driving a car in the new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), cars not meeting certain emission standards must pay an additional £12.50 ULEZ charge (on top of the £11.50 congestion charge, when it applies). The ULEZ charge is imposed at all hours of the day, every day of the year unlike the congestion charge which only applies between 7 am and 6 pm, Monday to Friday. The new Ultra Low Emission Zone covers the same geographic area as the Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ).

The introduction of the ULEZ is meant to encourage Londoners to drive cars with lower emissions, and is in effect from 9 April 2019 in central London. While eligible residents are initially given a grace period on the ULEZ charge (to provide time to swap their vehicle for one that meets ULEZ standards), this ends in 2021—the same year as the ULEZ is expanded to cover a wider net across most of London.

Do Residents Get a Discount?

Those who live within the ULEZ and in designated areas next to the boundary where the Congestion Charge residents' discount applies will receive a 100% discount from the ULEZ until 24 October 2021. From 25 October 2021, all residents must pay the £12.50 daily charge to drive in the zone if their car doesn't meet the ULEZ emission standards.

Which Cars Pay the ULEZ Charge?

Cars that meet ULEZ standards for low emissions do not pay the ULEZ charge; cars with higher emissions do pay the charge. To check your car, use the TFL car checker to find out if your particular make and model meets emissions standards or not.

Generally speaking, petrol cars registered with the DVLA in or after 2005 meet the ULEZ standards although some cars met the ULEZ standards from 2001 onwards; diesel cars registered in or after September 2015 usually meet the standards. Diesels registered before September 2015 typically do not meet the emission standards and would be subject to the ULEZ charge.

When Does the ULEZ Take Effect, and Where Does it Cover?

The ULEZ is effective from 9 April 2019, initially covering the same geographic area as the Congestion Charging Zone. From 2021, the ULEZ expands to include all of London that falls inside the North and South Circular Roads (but not including the North and South Circular). This expanded zone includes all or part of the following 23 London boroughs:

Expanded ULEZ Zone Includes All or Part of These London Boroughs (Effective 25 October 2021)
Inner London
  • Camden
  • City of London
  • Hackney
  • Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Haringey
  • Islington
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Lambeth
  • Lewisham
  • Newham
  • Southwark
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Wandsworth
  • Westminster
Outer London
  • Barnet
  • Brent
  • Ealing
  • Enfield
  • Greenwich
  • Hounslow
  • Redbridge
  • Richmond upon Thames
  • Waltham Forest

If you own a diesel and want to learn about the impact of the zone on diesel car prices in London, see our article Has the Ultra Low Emission Zone Caused Diesel Car Prices to Collapse Yet?

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