7 August 2018

London’s new Ultra-Low Emission Zone: What you need to know

Everything you need to know about the changes happening with the introduction of London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

Q: When will London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone be introduced?

A: The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be introduced in central London on April 8, 2019. It will replace the existing T-Charge, officially known as the Emissions Surcharge, which was introduced on October 23, 2017 and applies to pre-Euro 4 emission standard petrol and diesel vehicles.

Q: What area of London does the Ultra-Low Emission Zone cover?

A: The area covered by the ULEZ mirrors that of the 15-year-old London Congestion Charge zone.

Q: What hours does the Ultra-Low Emission Zone operate?

A: The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year including weekends and public holidays.

Q: What is the vehicle compliant entry standard for the Ultra-Low Emission Zone?

A: The vehicles affected by the ULEZ include: Cars, motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles, quadricycles, small vans, large vans, 4x4 light utility vehicles, motorised horseboxes, pickups, ambulances, motor caravans, minibuses, lorries, buses, coaches, breakdown and recovery vehicles, snow ploughs, gritters, refuse collection vehicles, road sweepers, concrete mixers, fire engines, tippers and removals lorries. The ULEZ entry standards are:

  • Euro 4 for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles
  • Euro 6 for diesel cars, vans and minibuses and other specialist vehicles
  • Euro VI for lorries, buses and coaches and other specialist heavy vehicles
  • Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles (L category).

Generally speaking, ULEZ-compliant petrol cars are those registered after 2005. However cars that meet the ULEZ standards have been available since 2000. For diesel vans the Euro 6 standard was mandated for all new vehicles sold from September 2016. A ULEZ vehicle compliance checker is available here

Q: What is the charge for non-compliant vehicles entering the Ultra-Low Emission Zone?

A: The daily charge for cars, vans and motorcycles that do not meet the ULEZ standard is £12.50 and for commercial vehicles above 3.5 tonnes, buses and coaches it is £100. The daily charge runs from 00:01-midnight each day. Therefore, if driving a vehicle that does not meet the ULEZ standard within the central London area across two days, for example before midnight and after midnight, two daily charges will be due. The ULEZ charge is in addition to the existing weekday Congestion Charge (£11.50 per day or Fleet Auto Pay £10.50) and the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) charge (daily charge is £100 for larger vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles, and £200 for lorries, buses, coaches and other specialist heavy vehicles). The ULEZ charge will be payable online, but exact details have yet to be announced.

Q: How will a driver know that they are entering the Ultra-Low Emission Zone?

A: Road signs will be put in place before the ULEZ starts, at every entry point along the boundary and along key arterial approaches. They will be placed alongside or below existing Congestion Charge signs. There will be no barriers or toll booths at ULEZ entry points. Instead, cameras will read vehicle number plates as they are driven within the Zone to check against Transport for London’s (TfL) database to see if they meet the ULEZ emission standards.

Q: What happens if the entry charge is not paid on a non-compliant vehicle?

A: The registered keeper of a vehicle that does not meet the ULEZ standard and its operator/driver fails to pay the daily charge will be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). The penalty is in addition to any Congestion Charge or LEZ Zone non-payment penalties received. The penalty charge for cars, vans and motorcycles is £160 (reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days) and for commercial vehicles above 3.5 tonnes, buses and coaches it is £1,000 (reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days).

Q: Can payment of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone charge be avoided to stop operating cost increases?

A: Fleets invariably lead the way in operating the ‘cleanest’ vehicles on the UK’s roads. Therefore, if a fleet is presently operating non-compliant vehicles now is a good opportunity to look at replacing them as there is just eight months to go before the ULEZ is introduced. If businesses do not want to replace existing non-compliant vehicles, it may be the case that some vehicles, particularly vans, are reassigned if possible so they operate on routes outside the ULEZ if they do not meet the qualification criteria.

Q: Is the Ultra-Low Emission Zone being expanded in the future?

A: Yes. The ULEZ will be expanded from October 25, 2021 to the Inner London area bounded by the North and South Circular roads, although vehicles using those roads and not entering the ULEZ will not be charged.

Q: Are changes to the Congestion Charge Zone Cleaner Vehicle Discount proposed?

A: Yes, that’s right. TfL is consulting until September 28, 2018 on proposals that would see the Congestion Charge Ultra-Low Emission Discount removed - a 100% discount applies to qualifying vehicles - and replaced with a new Cleaner Vehicle Discount as part of the drive to clean up the city’s toxic air. The current Ultra-Low Emission Discount applies to cars or vans that meet the Euro5 standard for air quality, as well as emitting 75g/km or less of carbon dioxide (CO2). The Cleaner Vehicle Discount will mean that only vehicles which meet Euro6 standards for petrol and diesel vehicles, emit no more than 75g/km of CO2 and have a minimum 20 mile zero-emission capable range will qualify. It is expected that, if the changes are made, around 10% of the vehicles currently eligible will no longer receive a discount. It is proposed that the change would take effect from April 8, 2019, the same date as the ULEZ is introduced. There will a further tightening of the Cleaner Vehicle Discount in October 2021, with only pure electric vehicles with zero CO2 emissions qualifying. The discount will cease to be offered from 2026. Further consideration will be given to future incentives for the uptake of zero-emission vehicles after 2025, which, subject to consultation, could include a central London Zero-Emission Zone.

Q: Where is further information available on the Ultra-Low Emission Zone?

A: Further information is available at: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone