London – Congestion Charge & ULEZ
Your guide on how, where and when London’s Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) affects you and your scrapping options.
London is home to possibly the most well-known Clean Air Schemes in the country, with the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) being one of the largest of its kind in the world. In 2019 the City of London added the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to central London, adding even more restrictions to the roads through the Capital. Let Scrap Car Comparison guide you through everything you need to know about where and when these charges apply, how much you’ll pay and provide you with options on how to get a more compliant vehicle.
Where are the CCZ and ULEZ in place?
The Congestion Charge is currently applied to anywhere within the boundary created by both the A406 and A205 roads – otherwise known as the North and South Circular respectively – the key ring road around the city. The CCZ is only chargeable between 0700 and 1800 Monday to Friday and Midday to 1800 on weekends and bank holidays. There is also no charge on the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
The ULEZ was in place within the London Inner Ring Road, encompassing Central London and including the areas of Marylebone, Mayfair, Soho, St James’ Park, Westminster, Lambeth, Southwark, The City, Holborn, Barbican, Finsbury and St Pancras. This was controversially expanded in 2023 to cover all London boroughs, up to the boundary line of the Low Emission Zone. Unlike the CCZ, the ULEZ is in operation 24 hours a day, 364 days a year – it is only suspended on Christmas Day.
There is also a third system in place, known as the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and is aimed at the most polluting heavy diesel vehicles. The scheme covers almost all of Greater London and is in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
What vehicles are covered in the CCZ, ULEZ and LEZ?
Almost all vehicles are required to pay the congestion charge, and while electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles are currently exempt, this will change in 2025, when all cars, no matter their mode of power, will be required to pay. Certain exemptions apply, such as for local residents, blue badge holders or breakdown/recovery vehicles. A full list of exemptions to the CCZ can be found on the Transport for London website.
The stricter ULEZ rules are based on Euro emissions ratings. All cars, vans, minibuses and light goods vehicles must adhere to either Euro IV for petrol vehicles or Euro VI for diesels. As a general rule of thumb, any petrol car from 2005 onwards, diesel cars from 2015, petrol vans from 2005 and diesel vans from 2016 onwards should all meet the standards, and any from before these dates are likely to have to pay daily charge. Motorcycles, including mopeds, must meet Euro 3 regulations, of which any bike manufactured after 2007 should meet. Despite the stricter rules, some 90% of cars seen driving through outer London are already ULEZ-compliant.
Diesel HGVs, buses, coaches, heavy vans, lorries or other specialist heavy vehicles do not need to pay the ULEZ as they are bound by the wider LEZ.
GOV.UK offers a service where you can check to see which of the charges you will be required to pay in the City, although this service is only available for vehicles registered in the UK. Charges will still apply to vehicles registered outside of the UK.
How much will I pay?
The Congestion Charge costs £15 per day – even if you go in and out multiple times on the same day – and can be paid either in advance or on the same day. Alternatively, you can pay by midnight on the third day after travel, but this will cost £17.50. Failure to pay by midnight on the third day will result in you receiving a Penalty Charge Notice.
The daily charge for the ULEZ is £12.50, and failure to pay can result in a Penalty Charge Notice of up to £160 – reduced to £80 if paid within two weeks. You may also have to pay any CCZ charges on top of your ULEZ payment.
All London driving charges can be paid with no worry by setting up Auto Pay, a system provided by Transport for London where you are automatically billed for any movements within the relevant areas, meaning you never have to worry about forgetting to pay and receiving a Penalty Charge Notice again.
Can I get a grant to get a compliant vehicle?
The Mayor of London has provided a scrappage fund of £160m (including an additional £50m from City Hall’s reserves following the 2023 expansion) to provide help to those with non-compliant vehicles – the most generous scrappage scheme ever seen in Britain. All Londoners who have a non-compliant car or motorcycle can claim a grant of up to £2,000, while businesses can claim up to £7,000 for a van. Small businesses and sole traders can scrap up to three vans or minibuses (up to a total of £21,000), as well as receiving retrofit payments up to £6,000. Charities can scrap up to three minibuses, to a total of £27,000, whilst grants for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles have doubled to £10,000.
Scrap your car for the most cash
If you’ve got a non-compliant vehicle but are based outside of London, you can still get rid of your old polluting vehicle for something a little greener by using Scrap Car Comparison’s industry leading service. By providing us with your postcode and registration number, we can get you the very best price from our unrivalled collection of specialist buyers and experts. You’ll receive a quote within 60 seconds, and the entire process can be completed in as little as a couple of days, meaning you’ll receive the money in your account before you know it, allowing you to get yourself a cleaner, more appropriate vehicle for driving around the capital and potentially saving you up to £3,600 a year.
Get started today and let us help you move around not only London without worry, but the countless other cities where Clean Air Schemes are starting to appear.