The ULEZ zone is an area in London where you need to pay a charge if you’re driving through it with a vehicle that emits too much pollution.
Although TfL has made it very clear where this zone is by showcasing many maps and also putting signs that alert drivers to the area, it can still be a little difficult to know how to properly pay for a ULEZ charge once you’ve got one.
The process of paying for ULEZ is unique and can catch the unaware. To help make sure that you don’t end up paying more than you should, here’s some information about the ULEZ charge and how to pay it. Check if your car is ULEZ compliant.
The ULEZ zone is in constant operation, and it runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with only one exception on Christmas Day. This means that no matter when you drive through the ULEZ zone with a car that’s not up to emission standards, you will have to face a charge.
Once you’re driven through the ULEZ zone, you only have three days to pay off the charge incurred from this journey. This payment needs to be made by midnight on this third day. If you miss this payment window, you can increase your charge to a penalty notice, which costs an increased £90 to pay if paid within 14 days.
To avoid any late charges and issues, many people set up their ULEZ charges, so they’re taken out of their accounts automatically. This removes a lot of the stress and makes it much easier to pay for your journeys through the ULEZ zone.
If you’re pre-planning a journey into the London ULEZ zone, you can pay for your trip up to 90 days in advance. When you do this, the ULEZ system will recognise that your vehicle has already produced a charge once it’s caught on camera, so it will not charge you for a second time.
A PCN might be generated for you in the following situations:
Both vehicles registered in the UK and outside the UK are eligible for PCNs.
Keep in mind that the chargeable period is from midnight to midnight. Consequently, separate PCNs may be received for each day you drive within the ULEZ.
|Vehicle||Weight||Penalty charge||If paid within 14 days|
|Cars, vans, motorcycles, motor tricycles and mopeds||Up to and including 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight||£180||£90|
|Motor caravans Ambulances||2.5 - 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight||£180||£90|
|Minibuses (with more than 8 passenger seats)||5 tonnes or less gross vehicle weight||£180||£90|
There are multiple ways you can pay for your ULEZ charge, which is excellent as there are payment methods that suit various individuals and situations.
You can pay your charge directly with TFL through their websites or apps that can help you manage your different driving fees.
Here’s a look at some of the best ways to pay for a ULEZ charge:
Paying for a charge after the fact directly on the TFL website is possible. You can either create an account or pay as a guest when you pay in this manner. Suppose you’re a regular London road user, such as someone who lives in the area or who commutes there regularly. In that case, it may be a good idea to create a London Road User charging account on the TFL website, as it allows you to track all the charges you can get and better manage your payments.
However, paying as a guest makes a lot of sense if you’re only paying for a one-off charge and won’t visit London in a while. When you do this, you will first need to enter your registration number. This is so that the system can check its records to see if your car is exempt from ULEZ or not.
Once you enter your details, you can select the day or days you’d like to pay for. This payment method allows you to pay for future trips or trips that you’ve already made. When paying this way, you also have the option to pay the London Congestion Charge. This separate scheme shares some of its boundaries with the ULEZ zone.
Once you select the days you want to pay for, you can input your payment details and finish the transaction like you would when paying for any other good or service online.
AutoPay is another payment method introduced by TFL that makes paying for your ULEZ charges more automatic and easier to manage and handle.
When you sign up for AutoPay, you will create an account registered for your vehicle. The ULEZ zone cameras will then track how often you drive within the area and bill you each month according to how many times you’ve been through the ULEZ zone.
These bills are taken automatically from your bank account, but you can also manage your charges and pay what you owe early when viewing your account.
AutoPay isn’t just designed for ULEZ but is also a tool that will allow you to automatically pay for the Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone if your car isn’t compliant.
The benefits of AutoPay are that it will protect you from ever getting a penalty charge notice while you’re registered for the scheme, and it will ensure that you never forget to pay a charge again.
If you own a business and have multiple company vehicles entering the ULEZ regularly, you can get a Fleet AutoPay account to make paying for your business super easy.
Finally, if you want a payment method that’s a bit more direct, you can also phone TFL to pay for your charge that way. When on the phone, you will have to disclose your registration plate and card details, which can be a bit tricky if your signal isn’t too strong.
Also, note that when you pay by phone, you will likely be met with an automated system, which can be time-consuming if you’re in a rush and may be a bit awkward to navigate through.
To pay a ULEZ charge by phone, you will need to call:
From the UK: 0343 222 2222
From International Locations: +44 343 222 2222
The ULEZ zone is a part of London that you’re not allowed to drive through with a vehicle that emits too much pollution. If you do so, you will have to pay a charge. The ULEZ was first introduced in 2019 by the Major of London and was designed to improve the air quality in the city by reducing the number of polluting vehicles driving through it
When it was first introduced, the ULEZ area covered the same area as the Congestion Zone, a pre-existing scheme focused on reducing traffic in central London. Now, the ULEZ zone operates across all London boroughs and the City of London. The M25 is not in the zone. This means that many residential areas are now included in the ULEZ zone.
The ULEZ area is in operation daily and, unlike other schemes, does not have a period where the charges don’t apply. The ULEZ area is usually apparent to drivers, with signs and warnings placed all around the parameter of the area, letting drivers know of all the entrance points into the zone.
The area is also well monitored with cameras, which check the details of your car to see if it needs to be charged or not. It does this by looking at your vehicle’s number plate and then checking the database to see what emission standards it was given when it was registered.
These cameras can be found all over the area, both by the boundary and in more central locations, so they can spot drivers starting and completing their journeys within the ULEZ zone.
You’ll mainly find these cameras around the parameter of the old ULEZ zone, as this is where they were first concentrated. That said, you will also find plenty more near popular locations and many bridges crossing the Thames river.
The amount you have to pay for the ULEZ charge will alter depending on the type of vehicle that you’re driving.
If you’re driving a car, motorbike, or van under 3.5 tonnes, you will have to pay £12.50. This is a daily charge, meaning that if you drive multiple times in the ULEZ zone in one day, you will still only have to pay £12.50.
If you’re entering a ULEZ zone with a larger vehicle, such as a lorry or a van that weighs more than 3.5 tonnes, or a coach that weighs more than 5 tonnes, you don’t have to pay a ULEZ fee. Instead, you have to pay a Low Emission Zone Fee. The cost of this can range from £100 to £300.
This fee is so large because London wants to discourage these heavily polluting vehicles from entering this area.
If you haven't got a payment program like AutoPay set up for your vehicle, you won't get any instant alerts that you owe a ULEZ charge.
In fact, if you're unaware that you've entered a ULEZ zone and owe a charge, the first time you may be made away is when a penalty is sent to your property because you were late in paying.
This is why it's important always to know when you're entering the ULEZ zone and to plan all your trips to or within London so that you aren't left with any nasty bills or surprises.
If you have made an account with the TFL to manage your ULEZ payments, you can check your account details which will make clear if you have any pending charges. This is why using these applications is a great way to manage your ULEZ better.
If you're driving a car under 3.5 tonnes, which most people entering the ULEZ area are, you will have to pay £12.50 for every day you enter the ULEZ with a non-compliant vehicle.
Although this charge may seem reasonable for some if they're only going into the ULEZ for a one-off trip, the cost of ULEZ can grow significantly for those living within the area. For example, many people living in the ULEZ area must commute to work. If they're driving a non-compliant vehicle to their office every day, then they could end up having to spend over £3,000 on the ULEZ charges online for an entire year.
For many people working in London, this can be the same as around 5-10% of their gross annual salary.
Furthermore, the cost can be even higher if you're driving a heavy-duty van that's non-compliant through the ULEZ area. With the daily charges being £100, contractors and manual workpeople will likely have to spend around £25,000 to drive their vehicle within the ULEz area for a year.
Plus, if you fail to pay any of these charges in time, you could also get a penalty notice, increasing the car charges to £90 if paid within 14 days. This means a few missed payments can cause even more costs. That's why it's crucial to set up an automatic payment method so that you never incur any penalties and also to check the ULEZ area to avoid it when you can.