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A guide to the Ultra Low Emissions Zone 

Everything you need to know about ULEZ 

Saarrah Mussa
Written by  Saarrah Mussa
5 min read
Updated: 13 Feb 2024

ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emission Zone and is primarily an area in London. If your vehicle doesn’t meet certain emission standards, you will have to pay a daily charge to drive within that zone.

What is ULEZ and what does it stand for?  

The ULEZ (Ultra low emission zone) in London is designed to improve air quality in London by discouraging the use of older, more polluting vehicles. The project was executed and launched by Sadiq Khan (London’s Mayor) in 2019 and has since been expanded twice. As of February 2024, the ULEZ zone covers almost all of Greater London.  

Unlike other schemes such as congestion charge, a ULEZ zone operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week except Christmas day. The charge applies to cars, vans, and motorcycles.  

If you are planning to drive in London, it is important to be aware of the ULEZ and whether your vehicle will be affected. 

If your vehicle doesn’t meet the ULEZ emissions standard and is not exempt, you need to pay a £12.50 daily charge to drive within the zone. If you fail to pay the charge you will be fined. You can check if your vehicle is exempt from charge on the Transport for London website.  

Other areas of the UK such as Sheffield, Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath, and Bradford have similar schemes that have slowly been introduced since 2015 called the Clean Air Zone (CAZ). Similar to ULEZ, all non-compliant vehicles will be charged a fee to drive in those designated areas.  

london roads

What is a Clean Air Zone (CAZ)? 

A Clean Air Zone is an initiative to improve air quality around the UK. The seven cities in the UK that have clean air zones are: Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead). These zones operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.  

You must be pay the charge by 11:59pm on the sixth day after driving in the zone and you can pre-pay for the zone charge up to 6 days before you travel.  

You can check if you need to pay the charge here before driving in a clean air zone. Clean Air Zones are different to ULEZ, there is a different way to check if your vehicle is ULEZ compliant.  

How much is ULEZ and will I have to pay a charge?  

The ULEZ charge for cars, vans, motorcycles, and specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) is £12.50. You can pay the ULEZ charge by midnight on the third day following your journey into the zone or up to 90 days in advance.  
 
Not all vehicles need to pay the ULEZ charge if they want to drive in London, it is only if your car is non-ULEZ compliant.  

You can set up Auto-pay on the TFL website where you will automatically get charged every month for any Congestion Charges. ULEZ and/or LEZ charges you may owe.  

Are any vehicles exempt from paying?   

If your car vehicle is non-ULEZ compliant, there are only a few ways you will be exempt from those charges.  

There are a few cars that are exempt from paying the ULEZ charge. These are usually classic cars, however it depends on the age of the car (often those over 40 years old or built before 1 January 1973).  

Back cabs licensed by TFL are also exempt.  

Some delivery vehicles may be exempt if they have specific permits.  

Will I be fined if I don’t pay the ULEZ charge?  

Yes. You need to pay the ULEZ charge by midnight on the third day following your journey. You can also pre-pay up to 90 days in advance before your trip. It is your duty as the driver to ensure you know the ULEZ rules and you pay the charge. If you fail to do so you will be issued a fine. 

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