What is the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and who will it affect?

What is the Ultra-Low Emission Zone and who will it affect?

As part of the Mayor of London’s initiative to reduce air pollution in the capital, the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will soon come into force. Here we explain what it is, what vehicles it applies to and how it will impact visitors and Londoners. 

What is the ULEZ?

The ULEZ will mean most vehicles driving in or passing through central London will need to meet certain exhaust emissions standards. If a vehicle doesn’t meet the new standards, the driver will be required to pay a daily charge to drive inside the ULEZ area. The ULEZ applies to cars, lorries, vans and minibuses and motorcycles and mopeds, and it will run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

There are plans to extend the ULEZ area in the coming years, but right now, the ULEZ is being applied to the current Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) in central London. You can find the affected areas on the TfL website

map of ULEZ boundary

Why is it happening? 

Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to human health. We know toxic air is linked to a wide range of health problems including lung and heart disease, stroke and cancer, and it disproportionately affects society’s most vulnerable, including unborn babies, children, people with an existing lung or heart condition and the elderly. 

About half of the air pollution in London comes from road transport, so restricting the most polluting vehicles from the most-polluted roads is a necessary step towards cleaning up the air in the city and protecting Londoners’ health. 

When does it start?

The ULEZ starts on the 8 April 2019.

Who will it affect? 

If you drive through the CCZ then the ULEZ may affect you. The ULEZ will be enforced based on the emissions, not necessarily the age, of your vehicle. However, petrol cars that meet the ULEZ standards are generally those registered with the DVLA after 2005; and diesel cars that meet the standards are generally those registered with the DVLA after September 2015. 

It’s important to check your specific vehicle on the TfL website by entering your registration. If you have a vehicle that meets the ULEZ standards, then you won’t be affected by these changes.

How much is the daily charge for vehicles that don’t meet the ULEZ standard? 

The daily charge for cars, vans, minibuses, motorcycles and mopeds that don’t meet the ULEZ standard is £12.50. For lorries and other larger vehicles that are affected, the daily charge is £100. This is on top of the London Congestion Charge, so if you’re driving through the CCZ during the Congestion Charge Zone’s operating time (7am – 6pm, Monday – Friday), both tolls will apply. 

The ULEZ is replacing the T-Charge, officially known as the Emissions Surcharge, in central London, so this will no longer apply. 

To avoid the charge, and contribute to cleaner air in the city, vehicle owners can walk, cycle and use public transport where possible; upgrade their vehicle to meet the standards; or join a car club such as Zipcar and rent a vehicle that is not subject to the ULEZ. There are also some exemptions.

What will the money be spent on? 

The Mayor of London has said the revenue raised from the ULEZ will go towards cleaning up and maintaining a greener transport fleet and reducing pollution across the city’s transport network.

Who is exempt from the ULEZ? 

There are some drivers and vehicles that will be entirely exempt from the ULEZ charge, and some will qualify for a temporary discount. These include: 

  • Residents – people living within the ULEZ area that have registered for the residents' Congestion Charge discount will be given a ‘sunset period’ and will therefore be exempt from the charge until October 2021.
  • Vehicles used by some people with disabilities – registered disabled vehicles will be exempt from the ULEZ charge until 26 October 2025 (as long as their vehicle doesn't change tax class).
  • Taxis - London-licensed black cabs are exempt from ULEZ, as new emissions standards have already been introduced for the taxi fleet. 

There are further exemptions and discounts including vintage cars and military and agricultural vehicles – more details about these can be found on the TfL website

What else is being done in London to tackle air pollution? 

Alongside the ULEZ, The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has invested in a number of measures to clean up the air in the capital. These include:

  • Spending more than £300 million to transform London’s bus fleet by retrofitting thousands of buses and beginning to phase out pure diesel double-decker buses.
  • Plans for 10 new Low Emission Bus Zones by 2020, where the greenest buses will be deployed to the most-polluted routes.
  • Introducing a Cleaner Vehicle Checker to show drivers how much toxic fumes new cars emit and help them choose a less-polluting vehicle. 
  • Protecting schools from pollution with air quality audits for 50 primary schools in the city’s most-polluted areas - these audits made recommendations to reduce emissions and exposure, and the Mayor and local boroughs are now working with the schools to trial these measures. 

How to get involved in air pollution campaigning

There are many ways to join in the fight for cleaner air across the UK. You can write to your MP, asking for stricter local solutions, or join a campaigning group such as the Clean Air Parents’ Network

There are also tips to protect yourself from dirty air and cut back on the pollution you produce on our website.