A ULEZ Guide for the Uninitiated

This is a simple ‘pocket guide’ to navigating the murky waters of the ULEZ rules in London; to help you avoid falling foul of the rules and receiving a fairly hefty fine!

  Jargon Buster: ULEZ stands for ‘Ultra-Low Emission Zone’ and refers to the emissions given off by your vehicle

The ULEZ was brought into effect in April 2019 in Central London (specifically the same area that the Congestion Charge is applied to), and has one very specific aim; to reduce vehicle emissions being produced within that area.

The average road user can ignore any references to the LEZ (Low Emission Zone) as this applies to ‘heavy vehicles’ only.

The rules are very simple, in that if the vehicle you are intending to drive within the ULEZ zone meets the official emissions restrictions then there is nothing else you need to do. However if the vehicle does not meet these restrictions then the costs are:

  • £12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans (up to and including 3.5 tonnes)
  • £100 for heavier vehicles, including lorries (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses/coaches (over 5 tonnes)

Source: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone

To find out if your car meets these requirements, there is an online tool to use in order to quickly check. The standards are based on the Euro Standards on emissions.

The ULEZ charge and rules are in force 24 hours a day, every day of the year (except for Christmas Day). You can ‘pay to drive in London’ online only, and you can pay this charge for travel on the previous working day, today, tomorrow, or a set of dates for the future. 

If you do not pay your ULEZ fee by the end of the day after your travel through the zone, you will receive a fine.

It may be worth paying in advance for making journeys where possible; as it limits the likelihood of you forgetting to pay – trust me, I’m saying this from experience! To combat this, for anyone who travels (or is planning to do so regularly) in the zone, you can set up an ‘auto-pay’ feature so that you can’t forget to pay.

When paying your ULEZ charge you can also pay your congestion charge. See my accompanying Congestion Charging Guide for more information. 

If you take (or are planning to take) regular trips to the capital and the ULEZ zone – and don’t qualify for the 100% resident discount – then it’s worth you taking into consideration the ULEZ emissions requirements, and picking a car that qualifies as exempt. You can check on the TFL (Transport For London) website using a car registration, and factor it into your purchasing decision. Many cars do meet the emissions standards; but don’t just assume that your intended purchase will – it could be a costly mistake!

Why not take a look below at some of our top ‘ULEZ Beating’ picks:

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About the Author

Sam Wardega is a freelance car journalist working on behalf of Carsnip.com.

A lifetime Petrolhead who started with Hot Wheels aged 2, and now just spends his life savings on owning his dream cars. As they say, boys don’t stop playing with toys; they just get bigger and more expensive!

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