Accidents do happen, and knowing when you have made them is sometimes much harder to discern. Checking to see if you have driven through the ULEZ Zone is no easy task. 

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone is the first of its kind. With it comes innovative number recognition technology that is dotted throughout the city to see if your vehicle meets the ULEZ emission standards. 

Other than ULEZ signage throughout the chargeable area, there are no toll booths or barriers. The only way you will know if you have driven through the ULEZ area without paying is when the official letter comes through your letterbox!

Here’s our guide to avoiding ULEZ penalty fees:

Plan your route

Sounds simple, but planning your route ahead of your journey will allow you to avoid unnecessary penalty charges. The Ultra Low Emission Zone is well-signposted throughout the city, and the government don’t take kindly to those who avoid paying to drive through it! 

At the time of writing, the ULEZ zone currently covers the same area as Central London’s Congestion Charge Zone. So if you are a London resident or regular commuter to the area, it’s likely you are already aware of where this covers. 

Know your vehicle’s emissions status

Don’t know if your vehicle is up to the ULEZ emissions standards? Well, the DVLA certainly do! Before making any journey across Central London, make sure you know if your vehicle is up to spec. Failing to do so will incur a £160 daily penalty, which let’s face it, is a step up from the £12.50 – £100 daily charge! 

Any vehicle that produces zero tailpipe emissions, such as an electric car will be automatically exempt from the ULEZ charge. This tends to be any vehicle that was registered after the Euro 6 standard was implemented in September 2015. 

Most Hybrids are also a contender for meeting the ULEZ standards. With lower tailpipe emissions than their fully fuelled counterparts, petrol hybrids registered after 2006 are likely to meet the ULEZ requirements. 

Check here to see if your vehicle is ULEZ exempt

As the government cracks down on vehicle usage that doesn’t meet the Euro 6 standard, it’s worth considering an upgrade to your current vehicle to curb the costs. With most van drivers being hit with the daily charge, it could cost you less than the daily ULEZ amount to finance a new van. 

How do I pay?

Not sure if you have travelled within the ULEZ zone? Fortunately for you, TFL (Transport for London) have made paying for the ULEZ simple. 

AutoPay allows you to link your payment card to automatically pay the ULEZ charge whenever your car passes through the ULEZ zone. Remember the smart registration identification cameras? As soon as your vehicle is spotted on the route, a single payment will be taken for your travel. Simple!

Otherwise, you can pay the ULEZ charge up to 90 days before travel, on the day and up to three days after. 

You can pay via the following methods:

  • Via the TfL website
  • Use the TfL pay to drive in London app (on Android and iPhone)
  • By telephone: 0343 222 2222 (see TfL website for more information)

Discounts available

Like all schemes, there are discounts available to those in need. Residents who drive a disabled vehicle, taxis and private hire vehicles are all eligible for the scheme. 

Most military, historic and farm vehicles, as well as cranes and most cars older than 40 years may also be exempt. 

Never assume that your vehicle is unchargeable! All vehicles must be registered with the TfL to get an exemption or discount. So, make sure to contact the TfL if you are unsure of your vehicle’s status. 

Know the ULEZ operating area

Chances are if you already live in Central London you have been living with the ULEZ scheme since it replaced the T-Charge in April 2019. 

For van and lorry drivers it may be less obvious how the ULEZ works in light of deliveries. So make sure you either check the ULEZ map before travel or enter your destinations postcode details via the TfL website. 

Keeping up to date with ULEZ updates is worth knowing for residents, commuters and drivers alike. From 25th October 2021, the ULEZ area is set to expand to cover more of Greater London. The proposed 2021 ULEZ zone can be viewed here.

Not sure if you have driven in the ULEZ zone? Before setting off on any journey, make sure you know where the ULEZ operates ahead of time. With AutoPay available, you can avoid penalty notices for good!


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