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London Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

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The Mayor of London is due to launch the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London on 8 April 2019. Petrol cars will have to meet Euro 4 (NOx) emissions standards and diesel cars will have to meet Euro 6 (NOx and PM) standards to drive in the ULEZ.

The daily ULEZ charge is £12.50. The penalty charge is £160 (reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days). This charge is in addition to any Congestion Charge that applies. There is also the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) – which does not cover cars.

As well as cars, vans, lorries, coaches, buses, motorbikes and all other vehicles will need to meet the new, stricter emission standards, or pay the daily ULEZ charge. This is in addition to the weekday Congestion Charge. It will replace the T-Charge (officially known as the Emissions Surcharge) which was introduced in October 2017. 

From 25 October 2021 the ULEZ will expand to the inner London area bounded by the North and South Circular roads.

The ULEZ will operate in the same area as the current Congestion Charge Zone and will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round.

Vehicles need to meet the different emission standards for the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) based on their vehicle type, and the type of emission.

The ULEZ standards are:

Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles (L category)

Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles

Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and minibuses and other specialist vehicles

Euro VI (NOx and PM) for lorries, buses and coaches and other specialist heavy vehicles (NOx and PM)

Euro 3 became mandatory for all new motorcycles in 2007

Euro 4 became mandatory for all new cars in 2005 and light vans in 2006

Euro 6 became mandatory for all new heavy duty engines for goods vehicles and buses from January 2014, September 2015 for cars and light vans, and September 2016 for larger vans up to and including 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight.

The ULEZ will be enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle rather than the age. However:

• Petrol cars that meet the ULEZ standards are generally those registered with the DVLA after 2005, although cars that meet the standards have been available since 2001

• Diesel cars that meet the standards are generally those registered with the DVLA after September 2015

You can check if your vehicle will be affected by the ULEZ by using this free online vehicle checker

You can also check which areas fall within the charging zone using this post code checker.

If you drive a vehicle that doesn’t meet the ULEZ standards within the central London zone and don’t pay the daily charge, the registered keeper will get a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). This penalty is in addition to any Congestion Charge or Low Emission Zone penalties received.

Euro standards – which first appeared in 1992 – are a range of emissions controls that set limits for air polluting nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) from engines. New vehicles and road vehicle engines must show that they meet these limits to be approved for sale.

Your vehicle registration document (also known as the V5C) will help identify your vehicle’s Euro emission standard. For newer vehicles, the Euro emission standard may be listed on the V5C in section D.2.

Some drivers and vehicles qualify for a temporary discount or full exemption from the ULEZ charge. You can see a full list of the charges, discounts and exemptions, as well as other information about the ULEZ, at TfL’s website.

The ULEZ is expected to:

  • contribute to improved air quality for millions of people in London 
  • reduce exhaust NOx emissions by up to 45 per cent

These effects will be especially beneficial to children and young people, older people, those with respiratory problems, and residents of high pollution areas.

Thousands of Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, while over 400 schools in the capital are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels. And every Londoner in the capital lives in an area exceeding World Health Organization guidelines for the most dangerous toxic particles.   

Around half of emissions from road transport are nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contribute to illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter (PM).

The ULEZ will help reduce these emissions, to protect children from lung damage, reduce the risk of breathing illnesses and heart disease in adults, and improve the health of people exposed to the highest levels of pollution.

The ULEZ is one of the many actions the Mayor is taking to clean up London’s air. It follows wide-ranging action the Mayor has already taken on tackling the most polluting cars and cleaning up London’s bus and taxi fleet. This includes:

  • ensuring all new double-decker buses are hybrid, hydrogen or electric from 2018
  • bringing in 12 low emission bus zones in some of London’s worst polluted ‘hotspots’ by the end of 2019 
  • upgrading 5,000 older buses to be ultra low emission by October 2020

The Mayor recognises that some motorists will need help switching to greener transport options, which is why he is also urging government to deliver a vehicle renewal fund to offer drivers a fair deal. This is especially important for the many diesel drivers who bought vehicles on the understanding that they were more environmentally friendly, based on government advice. 

As well as the ULEZ, London has the Low Emission Zone (LEZ), which operates to encourage the most polluting heavy diesel vehicles driving in London to become cleaner. The LEZ covers most of Greater London and is in operation 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

A vehicle may not meet the new ULEZ standards even if it currently meets the LEZ emission standards.

Further Green Car Guide information and resources about petrol and diesel cars and emissions:

SHOULD YOU BUY A DIESEL, PETROL, HYBRID OR ELECTRIC CAR?

WATCH OUR ‘WHICH CAR IS MOST SUITABLE FOR YOU?’ VIDEO

WATCH OUR ‘ELECTRIC CAR GUIDE’ VIDEO