What Cars are Exempt From City Congestion Charges?

As governments around the world try to find bigger and better ways to improve the state of our planet, anyone who has driven into Britain’s major cities recently will know that there is a growing number of schemes in place to charge drivers for the privilege of using their roads. Thankfully, some cars are free to enter the boundaries without the need to pay up. Scrap Car Comparison knows a thing or two about Clean Air Schemes, so let us tell you which cars you’ll want to be driving to avoid major charges.

If your current car is a little bit too old and polluting to get through the schemes without needing to get your wallet out, then maybe it’s time to replace it with something a little newer. You can help boost your deposit by using Scrap Car Comparison’s service to get the very best price for your old car, no matter its age or condition. We’ll scour the market in your area to ensure you get the top quote, and as if that’s not enough, we’ll even come and collect it for free.

An electric car charging at a roadside charging point

ULEZ Exempt Cars

The only Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in the country is currently in place within the Inner Ring Road of London, although there has been talk of a similar system being implemented across Brighton and Hove. The ULEZ rules are in place on 364 days of the year, suspended only on Christmas Day.

ULEZ restrictions are based on Euro emissions ratings, and all vehicles within the ULEZ must comply to a minimum of Euro 4 standards. This generally encompasses any petrol car from 2005 onwards, diesel cars from 2015, petrol vans from 2005 and diesel vans from 2016 onwards, meaning most vehicles prior to these will have to pay the daily charge of £12.50. Motorcycles, including mopeds, must meet Euro 3 regulations, of which any bike manufactured after 2007 should meet.

The planned implementation of Brighton’s ULEZ has seen suggestions that all vehicles must meet Euro 6 standards, meaning most vehicles registered prior to 2015 will be required to pay the daily charges.

What Cars Are Exempt From Congestion Charges

The Congestion Charge also sits in London, and sits at the heart of the city, inside the North and South Circular Roads. Unlike the ULEZ, the Congestion Charge is only in operation at peak times, between 0700 and 1800 from Monday to Friday and midday to 1800 on weekends and Bank Holidays, while it is also suspended entirely in the week between Christmas and New Year.

In terms of what vehicles are required to pay in the Congestion Charge, it’s much stricter than the ULEZ. Almost all vehicles are required to pay the £15 daily fee, with only battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles eligible for the Cleaner Vehicle Discount, although this will change on Christmas Day 2025 when all vehicles, regardless of its mode of power, will have to pay the full fee.

Clean Air Zone Exempt Cars

The most common type of scheme in operation across the country is known as a Clean Air Scheme, with Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Norwich, Portsmouth and York all implementing their own Clean Air Zones (CAZ). However, there are different levels to Clean Air Zones across the country, with some only applying to public transport or heavy goods vehicles. For further information we’ve gone into the details of each type of CAZ here.

For most CAZs, petrol cars are restricted to Euro 4 while diesels are restricted to Euro 6 standards – which in effect means petrol cars from 2005 onwards and diesels from 2015 onwards should be exempt from paying, although specific details may vary based on each individual location.

In Oxford, for example, a Zero Emission Zone has been trialled, meaning that only battery electric cars, or those that produce no emissions whatsoever, were able to enter the cities central streets without incurring a penalty charge. 

A road sign reading "Ultra low emission ZONE, ULEZ, At all times"

If your car is on its last legs and you know it’s going to be costing an arm and a leg to not only get it fixed, but drive into a clean air scheme, then it may be time to think about moving on. While you could try to cash in on a scrappage scheme, you’ll need to ensure you comply with all their relevant restrictions. Scrap Car Comparison, however, has no such restrictions and our service is available to anyone who owns a car.

All you need to do is pick up the phone or use our instant quote generator and one of our expert team will have an unbeatable quote for you in as little as 60 seconds. We only deal with certified Authorised Treatment Facilities, meaning you can be safe in the knowledge that your old car will be recycled in line with all legal regulations, and with collection agents operating across 99% of the nation, we’ll even come and get your vehicle directly from your door, absolutely free of charge. Get started today and move towards greener motoring and avoid any and all Clean Air Scheme charges that are thrown your way.

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