How to avoid paying ULEZ

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If you drive in London, chances are you're familiar with the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). 

The ULEZ is a designated area where only vehicles with low emissions are allowed to drive. 

If you drive a vehicle that doesn't meet the standards, you'll have to pay a daily charge. 

However, there are a few ways to avoid paying the charge. 

How do I avoid paying the ULEZ charge? 

There are a few ways that you can avoid paying the ULEZ charge.

The most obvious way is to invest in an electric or hybrid car because these will be exempt. Or any other ULEZ compliant car.

Here's a run-down of what you can do to avoid the ULEZ charge:

Buy a petrol car 

The introduction of the new Euro 6 emission standard has meant that every petrol-powered car sold from September 2015 must meet this requirement. That's a lot of cars you can choose from – including the impressive Audi R8! Again, you should check with the TfL website because a lot of petrol cars that were sold from 2006 – and a few from 2001 – will comply with the emission standard.

Buy a diesel car

If you drive a diesel car and want to avoid paying the London ULEZ charge, post-2015 cars are again your way forward. You'll need to meet the much stricter Euro 6 standards – anything less than this means you will be paying the charge. This issue also extends to diesel-powered vans – especially those that were registered before September 2016.

Buy a classic car

Owning a classic car that was built more than 40 years ago, is one way to drive in central London without paying the ULEZ charge. Any car with a historic tax class is automatically exempt from the daily charge – but not if it is used for commercial purposes. However, any vehicle built before 1 January 1973 will be exempt – whether it is used for commercial purposes or not. You need to check the TfL website because the 40-year rule means that the exempt date moves forward every year – for example, when the scheme was unveiled it allowed cars made before 1979 to be exempt. 

Buy an electric car 

Electric cars are a great way to go green and cut down on the harmful effects of pollution. Electric vehicles produce no exhaust emissions, making them exempt from ULEZ charges. The technology underlying these types of cars is improving all the time which will mean you won't have any trouble using your vehicle for longer journeys.

Buy a motorbike

You'll need to check the TfL website with the registration number but most motorbikes from July 2007 will be compliant.

Other ways to avoid paying the ULEZ charge

While having an emissions complaint car is the easiest way to avoid paying the ULEZ charge, you could also consider:

Be a Blue Badge holder

If you are a Blue Badge holder and your car is registered with DVLA as being used by a disabled driver, or a disabled passenger, then you won't have to pay.

However, you need to appreciate that will the exemption is for any car currently, you will need to have an emissions compliant car by 26 October 2025. If your car doesn't meet the ULEZ standard after this date, you will have to pay the daily charge.

Drive a taxi

You could drive a taxi into central London and not pay the ULEZ daily fee – though it must be licensed as such and be less than 15 years old.

Community transport minibus

Another to avoid paying is to drive a community transport minibus. This exemption will end on 29 October 2023. The minibus must be used on a not-for-profit basis and benefit the community. After October 2023, your minibus must meet the emissions standard.

Private hire vehicle with wheelchair access

A private hire vehicle that has wheelchair access will also be exempt from ULEZ – but only until 26 October 2025. Also, you will only be exempt whenever you are carrying a passenger as a private hire booking.

Other ULEZ exempt vehicles

There are also other ULEZ exempt vehicles that are worth considering, though they do have strict criteria to meet, and they include:

  • Military vehicles
  • Specialist agricultural vehicles
  • Some mobile cranes
  • A non-roadgoing vehicle with permission to drive on highways-for example, an excavator.

These vehicles need to be registered in the UK and meet the criteria laid down by TfL so you won’t be charged.

It’s also worth noting that you do not need to register your vehicle beforehand with TfL because it will be considered to be exempt from charges automatically.

However, if you are driving a vehicle that is registered outside the UK, but meets the above criteria, then you will need to register it with TfL.

There’s also the potential of driving a showman’s vehicle but it needs to be registered to a travelling showman and to have been specially constructed or modified for this purpose.

While the exemption will extend to a showman’s vehicle, it will not extend to a trailer or to a semi-trailer that has been specially constructed or modified.

The exemption will be granted if the vehicle is being used for the performance of a show, providing the performance or carrying performance equipment.

Also, if you drive a vehicle that is registered for the LEZ in London for the showman’s discount, then you don’t need to reregister for ULEZ – everything should work automatically.

Yet more ways to not pay ULEZ charges

So far, we’ve looked at ways that most people could avoid paying the ULEZ charge, but you could also consider:

  • Using public transport
  • Registering for a diplomatic discount
  • Moving to central London.

These are just some of the ways that you can avoid paying the ULEZ charge. For more information about the vehicles that are exempt or for your personal circumstances, visit the Transport for London website.

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