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What is the ULEZ? London’s new Ultra Low Emission Zone explained

Published: 19 February 2019

► London's ULEZ launches 8 April 2019
► Same area as Congestion Charge – but 24/7
► Charge is £12.50 a day for affected cars

If you’re driving in London after 8 April 2019, you’re going to face another toll charge to consider. In addition to the Congestion Charge, there will soon be the added bonus of the ULEZ or Ultra Low Emission Zone.

Like the Congestion Charge, it’s only going to be enforced within a certain central area of the capital, and only certain cars are going to be affected. Transport for London says that 1.5 million diesel cars, 500,000 petrol cars, 55,000 HGVs and 10,000 coaches failed to meet the ULEZ standards in the Congestion Charge Zone last year – so it’s going to impact many motorists.

Further reading

So how much does it cost, what’s it for and when do you need to pay it? Keep reading for CAR magazine’s guide to London’s forthcoming Ultra Low Emission Zone.


Where and when will I have to pay the ULEZ charge?

The Ultra Low Emission Zone has been pushed through to clean up the air quality of London, and initially it’ll only affect central London. It’s also going to be replacing the short-lived T-charge but will operate in addition to the Congestion Charge. It'll roll out on 8 April 2019, and cover the same area as the Congestion Charge, which will simplify things somewhat. 

Pictured below is the sign you’re going to start to seeing as you drive into central London. You can also check which postcodes are affected here.


You’ll also notice that unlike the Congestion Charge, there is no operating time for the ULEZ charge; if you enter at any time of the day or night, you’ll have to pay. After all, this is about stopping emissions, not traffic at peak hours.

What’s more, the charge is calculated per calendar day, so if you drive in to the ULEZ area at 11pm at night and then drive out at 2.30am the following morning, you’ll have to pay the charge twice. Ouch...

How much will the ULEZ cost drivers?

If your car or other vehicle is affected, you’ll have to pay an extra £12.50, and if you’re using a larger vehicle (like a lorry over 3.5 tonnes or a coach over 5 tonnes), it’ll cost an extra £100 per day.

Remember, this is in addition to the London Congestion Charge, so if you’re going through during the Congestion Charge’s operating time, you’ll have to pay both tolls. Don’t pay the ULEZ charge, and you’ll be given a huge £160 fine, though that halves to £80 if you pay within a certain timeframe.

There are discounts available, though. The TFL website states that ‘residents who are registered for the residents' Congestion Charge discount will get a 100% ULEZ discount until 24 October 2021'. Instead, ‘residents will continue to pay the T-Charge at a discounted rate of 90%, during this ULEZ resident sunset period.’


How to check if your vehicle is affected 

ULEZ charges are calculated on the emissions a vehicle produces rather than the age, and the minium emission standards for petrol and diesel cars are below: 

  • Petrol: Euro 4
  • Diesel: Euro 6
If your car fails to meet those standards above, you're going to pay the charge. 
According to the TFL's website, most petrols register after 2005 with the DVLA will pass the Euro 4 protocols, although some cars from 2001 onwards may also be okay. In terms of diesels, most after September 2015 will generally pass the ULEZ standard. 

 

You can find out if your vehicle passes with TFL’s handy registration plate checker, here.

What about classic cars?

If you’re a classic car owner there's some better news. Cars built more than 40 years ago (those exempt from VED road tax) will also be exempt from the ULEZ charge. That means when ULEZ launches later this year, anything made before 1 January 1979 with a historic vehicle tax will be exempt from the new charge.

Be aware, that historic vehicle tax doesn’t include commercial vehicles though.

We’ll update this article with more information as we approach the ULEZ launch.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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