What Does ULEZ Mean and Will it Affect Me?

ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emissions Zone. Launched in 2019, this is an area of London where motorists must pay a fee to drive through, if their car does not meet certain emission standards.

The idea is to cut down on air pollution. Through discouraging people from driving through the city, TFL hopes to encourage them to walk, cycle, or use public transport instead.

Currently, the ULEZ covers the area within London’s North and South-Circular roads. But the Mayor of London recently announced that, from 29 August 2023, the city’s ULEZ will expand to cover almost the whole city.

This means that most motorists will have to pay £12.50 a day to drive almost anywhere in London. Meanwhile, anyone driving larger vehicles such as lorries, buses and coaches will have to pay £100 a day.

Will ULEZ Affect Me?

You have to pay to drive in the ULEZ zone if your vehicle does not meet the emission standards.

Exempt vehicles include:

  • Diesel cars that meet Euro 6 standards.
  • Petrol cars that meet Euro 4 standards.
  • Fully electric cars.
  • Hybrid cars that meet either Euro 4 or Euro 6 standards.

Does your vehicle meet the emission standards? You can find out using this handy ULEZ checker tool. Just enter your registration and it will tell you whether you’ll have to pay.

How Do I Pay ULEZ Charges?

The ULEZ system operates using cameras that can automatically detect vehicle registrations. Once you drive through a ULEZ area, you’ll have three days to pay off the charge. The latest you can make the payment is midnight on the third day following your journey.

If you don’t make the payment within this time, you may get a penalty charge notice.

The easiest way to pay ULEZ charges is online and all the details are on the Gov website.

If you’re planning a trip to London, you can pay for your ULEZ up to 90 days in advance. The system will automatically recognise your car’s registration when you enter a ULEZ area. So once you’ve paid, there’s no need to do anything else.

Is the ULEZ Expansion Definitely Going to Happen?

Despite “overwhelming” opposition, all signs indicate that the Mayor of London plans to push on with the ULEZ expansion from 29 August 2023.

According to one public consultation, 70% of residents and 80% of workers in Outer London oppose the plans. Many drivers will soon have to pay £12.50 to make journeys they now make every day for free. And some critics have argued that the public transport in some of the new ULEZ areas is not currently reliable enough to accommodate a flux of new commuters.

At the moment, it is looking most likely that these plans will come to pass. So if you live or work in the areas covered by the ULEZ expansion, make sure you keep up to date with any developments.

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