Everything you need to know about ULEZ charges
In a move to reduce carbon emissions and tackle air pollution, 'Low Emission Zones' and 'Clean Air Zones', are popping up across the UK. Taking the lead from London’s 'Ultra Low Emissions Zone', or ULEZ, many towns and cities are following suit. ULEZ-type charges are being introduced in a bid to remove polluting vehicles from town centres and improve the health of local residents and the environment.
Find out what this means for you, how you can meet emissions standards and whether your current vehicle is ULEZ compliant in London.
What is ULEZ compliant in London?
What does ULEZ really mean? For vehicles to travel through Low Emission Zones without triggering an emissions or congestion charge, they must be ULEZ compliant. To be ULEZ compliant vehicles need to meet the following European emissions standards:
- Euro 3 emissions standards for motorcycles (most motorcycles registered from January 2007 meet this standard).
- Euro 4 emissions standards for petrol or petrol hybrid cars (most petrol cars including vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles registered from January 2006 meet this standard).
- Euro 6 emissions standards for diesel or diesel hybrid cars (most diesel cars including vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles registered from September 2015 meet this standard).
Local authorities may set a different standard for taxis and private hire vehicles. You should always check if you will need to pay a charge or contact the local authority for more information.
So what are ULEZ exempt cars?
ULEZ compliant cars that meet the applicable Euro 3,4 or 6 emissions standards are exempt from these charges, but some other vehicle types are exempt too. These are:
- Fully electric cars
- Classic cars that fall into the historical tax class
- London licensed taxis less than 15 years old
- Specialist agriculture vehicles
- Military vehicles
How much is the ULEZ charge?
To use an example: Unless your vehicle is exempt, you’ll pay a £12.50 daily charge to drive your car through the designated ULEZ area in London, in other areas the charge might be more.
So, EVs don’t have to pay ULEZ?
We hear the question ‘Do electric cars pay ULEZ?’ a lot, so we’re here to answer it. The great news is that because EVs have no tailpipe and produce no emissions, they’re 100% exempt from ULEZ charges in London. There’s no congestion charge electric cars have to pay in London either. Popular EV models including the Nissan LEAF, the Volkswagen ID.4 and the Tesla Model 3 all fit the bill. Take a look at our full range of electric cars that are all 100% ULEZ exempt to find something that matches your style.
Bear in mind that if you drive a hybrid, similarly to petrol and diesel vehicles, you will need to meet the Euro 4 or 6 emissions standards to be ULEZ compliant and avoid charges.
Are business vans exempt from ULEZ?
Whether for business or personal use, only ULEZ compliant vans are exempt from ULEZ charges. Most vans or light commercial vehicles are diesel powered and would have to meet Euro 6 emissions standards to be ULEZ exempt.
For heavier business vans and lorries over 3.5 tonnes, ULEZ standards won’t apply, but alternative Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) standards will instead.
Of course, if your business van is fully electric, then just like any electric car, you’ll benefit from ULEZ exemption too.
What are the ULEZ standards?
ULEZ standards are European Emissions Standards. They were first introduced in the early 90s and designed to set acceptable levels of exhaust gas emissions. Vehicles, particularly older models, produce lots of harmful emissions, including nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulate matter.
The European Emissions Standards aim to reduce air pollution and improve air quality across Europe. The higher the Euro number your vehicle has (i.e. closer to 6) the newer the engine and cleaner emissions it will have.
The latest sixth set of standards (Euro 6) was introduced in 2014 and a seventh and more stringent set of standards (Euro 7) is expected to be implemented in 2025. This will encourage more sustainable modes of transport and reduce harmful emissions from petrol and diesel cars in our towns and cities.
If cleaner, greener travel makes you excited, you can read more in our sustainability blogs.
How to check ULEZ compliance for your vehicle
There are a couple of different ways you can check if you have ULEZ compliant cars:
- Check the vehicle logbook
All cars should have a logbook that includes information on vehicle emissions. Look for an entry under “vehicle’s minimum emission standard” (this is normally section V5C in newer logbooks). If you’ve lost yours or aren’t quite sure where it is, you can check with the car manufacturer too. They should be able to help you out.
- Use the London ULEZ checker
A super easy way is to enter your registration number in the TFL ULEZ checker to check compliance. If you’re outside of London, you can also check other cities’ emissions standards using the Clean Air Zone checker.
Just in case, you should keep in mind that these sites aren’t always 100% accurate. There have been cases where the online checker got it wrong, told people their car was ULEZ compliant, and they wound up with a nasty fine. We don’t want that to happen to you, we’re all about saving money! So, just make sure you do your research and double check in your logbook or with the manufacturer if you can.
Fun fact - London’s ULEZ is the first 24-hour Ultra Low Emissions Zone in the world, and the only current one in the UK. But even if you’re not a regular London commuter it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to escape Low Emissions Zones for long. Several UK cities including Bath, Birmingham, Glasgow, Portsmouth and Leeds have all introduced Clean Air Zones and Congestion Charge Zones, and many others are set to follow. European emissions standards will continue to be the benchmark for emissions levels in these areas.
So, with Low Emissions Zones set to be the future, it might be time to future proof your car and make the switch to a zero emissions EV. You won’t have to worry about Low Emissions Zones and charges, and you’ll get to enjoy other financial and green benefits too. Check out our full range of electric cars and special energy tariffs that can help save you even more money with super low cost home charging.