What are the ULEZ and LEZ?

Commercial vehicles, vans and pick-ups can face different low emission zone charges. Find out the potential costs here...

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The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) refers to a defined area of inner London which has tighter emissions control regulations. Vehicles that do not meet the entry requirements must pay a penalty fee to enter the zone.

The ULEZ was introduced in April 2019 covering the same area as the Congestion Charge Zone but operates 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Cars, vans, motorcycles, trucks, buses and coaches must pay the to enter the zone if they are not compliant the emissions standards. A wider Low Emission Zone (LEZ) also exists, covering commercial vehicles, including vans over 1.205 tonnes and registered before 1 January 2002.

Entry rules for London's ULEZ

Entry requirement standards for the ULEZ vary depending on the type of vehicle and its engine. For all cars, vans and minibuses with petrol engines they must meet the Euro 4 emissions standards. If you have a diesel car, van or minibus it must meet Euro 6 emissions levels. Trucks and coaches have a different Euro VI standard to meet. Vehicles that meet the emissions standard do not have to pay the ULEZ charge.

Euro 6 was introduced for cars and light vans in September 2015, while larger vans, up to an including 3.5 tonne gross vehicle weight models, had to meet Euro 6 standards from September 2016. Euro 4 for petrol engines was introduced in 2005 for cars and 2006 for light vans.

If your vehicle was first registered after these dates it will likely comply. However, check your vehicle registration documents as they will list the Euro emission standard that the engine complies with. Beware that there may be some exceptions and the ULEZ is enforced based upon the declared emission category not the age of the vehicle. You can also check if your vehicle meets the emissions standards on Transport for London’s website.

What do I do if my van or pick-up doesn't comply with ULEZ or LEZ limits?

If your vehicle doesn’t meet the required emission standard to enter the ULEZ it is still possible to come into the zone, however you must pay a daily charge.

The ULEZ charge currently stands at £12.50 per day for all vehicles under 3.5 tonnes. Failure to pay the charge will result in a fine of £160, which is reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days. The ULEZ entry fee must be paid in addition to any other charges such as the LEZ and the Congestion Charge Zone. The fee for all heavy goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, including vans, that don’t meet the entry requirements is £100 per day.

The ULEZ is controlled by cameras which record your time of entry and exits. Once in the zone you are required to pay for each of the days you are inside. If you drive within the ULEZ over two days (before and after midnight) you must pay for two daily charges.

Will the London ULEZ zone expand?

The boundaries for the ULEZ are currently defined by the Congestion Charge Zone, but from 25 October 2021 it will cover the area within the North and South Circular Roads.  

Residents within the Congestion Charge zone who register will be granted a time-limited grace period up to 24 October 2021 and given a 100% discount on the ULEZ. This is in order to give them time to change their vehicle to meet the ULEZ emission standards.

Keepers of vehicles registered with a disabled or disabled passenger tax class will have an extended grace period up to 26 October 2025, but Blue Badge holders will need to pay the charge unless their car either meets the ULEZ standard or is registered with the DLVA as a disabled vehicle tax class.

Is the ULEZ charge only for London?

The ULEZ refers specifically to London currently, but other areas of the country are implementing their own clear air zones. Cities looking to implement their own zones (some of which may be chargeable or operate a penalty system) include Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.

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