What is the ULEZ?

  • Posted

From 8 April 2019 there is a charge to drive within an area of central London known as the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). Its purpose is to improve air quality.

If a vehicle does not meet the ULEZ emission standard there is a daily charge of £12.50 (most vehicles) or £100 (goods and other vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and buses or coaches over 5 tonnes).


  • affects all vehicles
  • operates all day, every day of the year
  • does not replace the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) that covers most of Greater London
  • is in addition to any £11.50 Congestion Charge (that operates 0700 to 1800 hours Monday to Friday)
  • imposes penalty charges of £160 for cars/small vehicles and £1,000 for large vehicles (£80 and £500 if paid within 14 days)
  • will have tighter standards for heavy vehicles from 26 October 2020
  • will expand from October 2021 to a larger zone.

Transport for London states: London’s air pollution is increasing people’s risk of heart and lung disease and asthma. Every child in London breathes toxic air daily, damaging their lung growth. Road transport is the biggest source of the emissions damaging health in London. That’s why we’re taking action to help clean up our dangerously polluted air and improve public health. Around half of emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) come from transport. They contribute to illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) – pollutants which make chronic illnesses worse, shorten life expectancy and damage lung development. The communities suffering most from poor air quality are often the most vulnerable, including children. There are at least 360 primary schools in areas with illegal pollution levels.

Vehicles standards

Cars: the minimum emission standard if Euro 4 for petrol vehicles (generally ones first registered with DVLA after 2005) and Euro 6 for diesel vehicles (generally ones first registered with DVLA after September 2015). So drivers of diesel cars will be particularly affected unless they have a car of less than about four years old.

Vans, minibuses etc: the same emission standards apply. All new diesel vans sold w.e.f. September 2016 should meet Euro 6 standard and all petrol vans registered at DVLA w.e.f. January 2006 should meet Euro 4.

Larger vehicles (goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and buses/coaches with more than eight passenger seats over 5 tonnes gvw): Euro VI standard has to be met – these are normally ones registered at DVLA after 2014.

Motorcycles, mopeds etc: these must meet Euro 3 standards (ones normally registered after July 2007.)

You can check if your vehicle meets the standards online at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle-35896

There are some controversial aspects to this initiative: businesses will have to meet the additional costs of delivering goods into the zone and there will be an additional costs burden in upgrading vehicles for small businesses, charities and the less well off.


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