Congestion Charging & ULEZ

This site only provides details of the Road user charging schemes in London.

As the name suggests congestion charging is meant to reduce the number of cars entering a particular area – thus reducing congestion. The idea is that some motorists will use alternative means of transport as a result of the charge. We now have the worlds first ultra low emission zone covering most of London. So there are 2 charges and 2 penalties for non-compliance!

CONGESTION CHARGE – The Congestion Charge under the current Mayor Sadiq Khan is now £15 a day (£17.50 if not paid on day of travel but up to 3 days later) and applies from 7am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 12pm – 6pm at weekends and bank holidays with no charge between Christmas day and New Year’s Day. It covers the central area of London only so you do not have to pay it if you are not entering the central area.  Here is a direct link to transport for London Congestion charging home page with details of how to pay and where it operates. www.cclondon.com The penalty for non compliance is £160 reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.

ULEZ – There is also an ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) operational in most of London bordered by the North and South Circular roads operational 24/7 except Christmas Day.  If your car does not meet the strict criteria there is an additional daily charge of £12.50. The criteria for petrol cars is Euro 4, usually cars registered after 2005 and for diesel cars Euro 6 which is usually cars registered after September 2015.  Different rules apply for other types of vehicles.  Here is a direct link to the ULEZ homepage where you will see details of how to pay, the detailed criteria and a map of where it operates.  The penalty for non compliance is £160 reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days. 

If you do not pay either charge when due you will receive two penalty charge notices for £160 each!

We would strongly suggest registering for autopay which you can do from the above links and costs £10 a year. This way you will never receive a penalty charge notice and you will only be charged if you actually drive into the respective zones and if the cameras register you.

If you have received a penalty charge notice we would suggest that you see our section “contraventions for congestion charging” which may well assist for in fighting your congestion charge fine. The link is near the top of this page on the left. There is also a useful section showing adjudicators decisions.

Fully electric electric and Hydrogen Fuel cell vehicles do not have to pay the congestion charge until 2nd January 2026 onwards but your vehicle registration document needs to show a fuel type of ‘electric’ or “hydrogen”  You also need to register with TFL to receive the 100% discount.

Full details of the above and any other discounts can be found on the congestion charge web site www.cclondon.com (external link)

Payment:

For details of how to pay please see www.cclondon.com (external link)

For a PDF map showing the charging area see www.cclondon.com and scroll down to the map.

There are “free routes” boundaries around the London congestion charging zone including, Marylebone Road, Edgeware Road , Park Lane and Vauxhall Bridge Road although these roads are within the ULEZ. 

Autopay

Transport for London now offers an auto pay facility. We highly recommend this. Once registered your credit card will automatically be billed each month for the number of days you actually enter the zone. It should mean that you will not receive a penalty charge notice again. Paste the following link in your browser and scroll down  to the Autopay section of the TFL website. www.cclondon.com

Enforcement:

Cameras with number plate recognition software record every car entering the charging zone. Number plates are cross referenced against a database of payments made.  If a number plate isn’t on the database, details will be collected from the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) and the registered owner fined £160 (£80 if paid within 14 days)

Brief History of Scheme

In February 2003 a congestion charging scheme was introduced in central London by the then Mayor, Ken Livingstone. The charge was £5 a day and it applied mon – fri  7am – 6.30 pm.

Initially there was a 20% reduction in the traffic.  However congestion levels soon crept up again.

In February 2007 the scheme was extended by the then London Mayor Ken Livingstone to include parts of West London. There was a large scale consultation which showed that only 23% of residents and 11% of businesses in the western extension actually supported the proposals.  Despite the massive opposition Ken Livingstone decided to go ahead anyway. It was reported that Ken Livingstone said he was obliged only to carry out a consultation rather than abide by its result! The subsequent Mayor Boris Johnson carried out a further consultation and on 24th December 2010 the Western extension section was switched off.

The original charge was £5 and Ken Livingstone said at the time he didn’t see a circumstance when it would need to increase. However a couple of years later he increased it to £8 and In January 2010 Boris Johnson increased the charge to £10. Then in 2020 Mayor Sadiq Khan increased it to £15.

Having investigated certain locations on behalf of motorists who have received penalty charge notices we can see how they are still issuing so many tickets. Many signs are missing or facing the wrong way or show the incorrect hours of operation.

Some interesting facts:

Guests of the Dorchester and Le Meridian Grosvenor House Hotels will be able to use the main entrance on Park Lane for free but lorries delivering supplies have to pay the charge to use the tradesmen’s entrance, which is in the Zone.

Transport for London has published information on the charges in Braille, presumably for the benefit of blind drivers?

Ironically, the system designed to reduce the number of cars in central London relies on those very cars to pay for itself. It could be a victim of its own success.

The Mayor has jurisdiction to operate the charge anywhere within the M25   There was also talk of extending it to Heathrow Airport!

TFL ads claimed that the monies from congestion charging would be reinvested in Public Transport, but they were warned to change the wording as they cannot guarantee that this will be the case. A large portion will be spent on administering the system.

Many critics of the congestion charge are keen to point out the following comments made by London mayor Ken Livingstone to the press .

‘I hate cars. If I ever get any powers again I’d ban the lot’. – Ken Livingstone, Sunday Times, 21st of November 1999.

Ken Livingstone only learned to drive a few years ago!

Ken Livingstone’s first car was a Toyota Prius

The government is now pressing ahead with more congestion charging pilot schemes around the country.

Next: Received a congestion charge?