What’s The Difference Between ULEZ and LEZ?

London traffic

Straight off the bat, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Low Emission Zone (LEZ) operate separately from each other. Both are government strategies to combat rising tailpipe emissions throughout London. 

You may have heard the phrase “emission standards” thrown around, but how does that relate to ULEZ and LEZ? 

Both implement a daily charge for certain types of vehicles, so let’s unpack what they both mean:

The LEZ in a nutshell

Introduced in late 2008, the LEZ operates and covers most of Greater London. It reaches out to include parts of the M1 and M4 motorways, but not the M25. 

Essentially, the LEZ operates to encourage the most polluting heavy diesel vehicles to become cleaner. Like ULEZ, the LEZ exists to reduce emissions throughout the city and to help improve the lives of the city’s residents.

The LEZ is payable on top of the Congestion Charge Zone fee and operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year – except Christmas Day. With the LEZ running midnight to midnight, if you are travelling between 11 pm and 1 am the next day, you would have to pay for two days. 

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Before making any journey, it is worth checking out is your vehicle is affected by the additional charges. If your van, lorry or specialist vehicle fails to meet the required emissions standards, you will have to pay regardless of how long or short the drive. 

What vehicles are affected by the LEZ?

Currently, it is predominantly diesel-powered larger vehicles that are affected by the LEZ. So if you drive a lorry over 3.5 tonnes, a coach over five tonnes, a large van, minibus or motorised caravan that was registered before October 2006, the LEZ affects you!

Some light 4x4s and pickups registered new before 1st January 2002 also have to pay the LEZ. 

From 1st March 2021, stricter LEZ emission standards for heavy diesel vehicles will be enforced. Check the TfL website for further guidelines. 

How much does the LEZ cost?

As the LEZ affects larger vehicles, there is a higher cost involved. 

Here is a general guide to what you can expect to pay:

£100 

  • Larger vans, horseboxes, 4×4 light utility units, pickups up to 1.205 tonnes
  • Ambulances, motor caravans up to 3.5 tonnes
  • Mini-buses (8 seats plus) up to 5 tonnes

£200

  • Lorries, breakdown and recovery vehicles, removal lorries, refuse collection vehicles, concrete mixers, tippers, fire engines and other specialist vehicles. over 3.5 tonnes
  • Buses, coaches (eight seats plus) over 5 tonnes
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Enforcing the LEZ charge is the government’s attempt to help you consider a cleaner vehicle or have an approved filter fitted. 

Bear in mind that if you are parked in the zone overnight but you are not travelling within the LEZ, you do not have to pay the daily charge.

How ULEZ is different

Unlike the LEZ, the Ultra Low Emissions Zone affects all vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 and Euro 6 standards for petrol and diesel-fueled cars. 

Check our useful ULEZ checker tool to see if your vehicle is ULEZ exempt.

The ULEZ scheme was rolled out across the city of London and surrounding areas in April 2019. Since then, toxic NOx levels have reduced at a rapid rate, and air quality is improving as a result. Currently, the ULEZ covers the same area as the Congestion Charge Zone. However, like the LEZ, it operates separately and incurs its own daily charge.

Vehicles that do not meet the required Euro emissions standards will have to pay a £12.50 daily fee when travelling within the ULEZ area. 

It’s worth remembering that ULEZ is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week except for Christmas Day. So if you are planning a quick trip to the supermarket and have to cross the boundary lines, you will have to pay the charge. 

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Failing to pay ULEZ will cost you a £160 penalty fee. 

London resident? 

Up until 25th October 2021, London residents can claim a 100% discount if they love within the ULEZ zone. However, if you were paying the enforced T-Charge before the ULEZ, you will pay this at a 90% discounted rate until the 24th October 2021. 

Unfortunately, after ULEZ expands to the North and South Circular roads, if your vehicle fails to meet the emissions standards, you will be required to pay the charge. 

Want to beat the expansion? Here’s our guide to upgrading your car

Feeling the pinch? Find out if your vehicle meets the LEZ and ULEZ emission standards to avoid extra charges and penalties.

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