On August 29th 2023, the Ultra Low Emission Zone will be expanded to include all London boroughs. This is following the success of the initial scheme that has helped to improve air quality in central London.
Air quality in London has been linked to widespread health problems including asthma, cancer and lung disease. It is also linked to increased occurrence of dementia in older people.
To help limit the amount of pollution from vehicles, Transport for London introduced various measures to penalise drivers for entering central locations, or for driving cars linked to higher emissions.
Measures include the Congestion Charge, Low Emissions Zone and the Ultra Low Emissions Zone. These measures are all designed to discourage individuals from driving in the centre of London, and to discourage the use of polluting vehicles.
What cars can drive in the ULEZ?
According to TFL, around 9 in 10 cars in outer London are already eligible to drive in the ULEZ. You can use this vehicle checker to find out if your car or van meets the standards. You’ll need to enter your registration and then where your car is registered. In general, your car will meet the ULEZ exemption rules if it falls into the following categories:
- A diesel car that meets Euro 6 standards
- A petrol car that meets Euro 4 standards
- An electric car
- A hybrid cars that meets Euro 4 or 6 depending on the fuel type
What does ULEZ mean in UK?
ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emissions Zone. It was first introduced in 2019 as a way to lower emissions in the centre of London. While it is currently only operational in central London, there are plans to extend it to the whole of London and throughout the UK. In other parts of the UK, it will be known as a Clean Air Zone. If your car is ULEZ exempt, it will also be Clean Air Zone exempt.
When there is an ULEZ in operation, only cars that are exempt can drive there for free. If a car does not meet the rules, the driver will have to pay a daily fee to be able to drive in the ULEZ. At the moment, this is £12.50 per day. Failure to pay the fee will result in a fine of £180. This is reduced to £90 if the fine is paid within 14 days.
What area will ULEZ cover?
At the moment, the ULEZ is only operational in central London. It covers all areas within the North and South circular roads. From the end of August, this will be expanded to include all London boroughs.
How do I know if I need to pay ULEZ?
It’s important to check if you need to pay the £12.50 ULEZ daily charge before you head out on the roads. Failure to pay the daily fee will result in a £180 fine, which increased from £160.
The first thing to do is to check if your vehicle is exempt. You can check your licence plate using this vehicle checker to confirm if you need to pay it or not. Some vehicles are exempt, including all fully electric vehicles and some hybrid vehicles. Your car may also be exempt if it is a diesel car that meets Euro 6 standards, or a petrol car that meets Euro 4 standards.
Euro 4 and Euro 6 standards are vehicle emissions standards that were established in 2005 and 2015, respectively. Most petrol cars released since 2006 will meet these rules. Examples of exempt cars includes:
- Nissan Leaf
- Ford Fiesta
- Kia Sportage
Van drivers are the worst hit by the ULEZ rules, since many need to drive these vehicles for work, and the majority of vans are diesel powered. Diesel vans need to be Euro 6 compliant, which covers most new vans released since 2016. This puts pressure on van drivers to operate more modern vehicles.
How do you avoid ULEZ?
There are a few ways to avoid the ULEZ, including:
- Scrap your car. If you don’t use your car or van very often, you might consider getting rid of your vehicle and relying on public transport instead. Some drivers will be offered incentives to scrap their cars, including a payment to scrap their vehicle, alongside a free annual travel pass. To be eligible for the scrappage scheme, you will have to be in receipt of Child Benefit or certain low-income or disability benefits. If you are a sole trader, micro-businesses (10 or fewer employees), small businesses (under 50 employees) or a registered charity, you will also be able to apply for the scrappage scheme.
- Sell your car. Vehicle owners are going to find it increasingly difficult to sell cars that are not ULEZ compliant. You may need to look further afield for a buyer.
- Confirm your vehicle meets the requirements. Your vehicle may already be compliant with the rules. You will simply need to check the registration to confirm if your vehicle is ULEZ compliant.
- Purchase a new vehicle. If you are thinking about making the switch to an electric vehicle, now could be a good time to do so. Not only will your car be able to drive in the ULEZ without paying the daily fee, but you will also be exempt from paying the congestion charge. You will also be exempt from paying Road Tax until 2025.
- Invest in a classic car. Many classic cars are actually exempt from the rules, but only if they were built more than 40 years ago. This rolls forward every year, so if you purchase a car built in 1985, it will be exempt until 2025. This won’t do anything for the air quality in London, but it will help you to avoid paying the daily fee.
- Check if you are eligible for disabled tax class, either for yourself or for a passenger. Any vehicle with either a “disabled” or “disabled passengers” tax class is automatically exempt from the ULEZ payment.