Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ): What you need to know

Electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity around the world, and in the UK, we’re seeing more zero-tailpipe emitting vehicles on our roads. This comes after the UK government made a pledge to scrap the sale of all diesel and petrol-powered cars by 2040; this target was then brought forward to 2030, creating an even greater need for manufacturers to develop and produce EVs

In this article, we’ll look into the use of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) imposed by the UK government in central London. As such, we’ll look at how this affects new or used car purchases from dealerships, such as Lookers.

Read next: What is an EV? Everything you need to know about hybrid and electric vehicles

Ultra Low Emission Zone: What is ULEZ?

To travel in the ULEZ, your vehicle will need to meet a new, tighter exhaust emission standard. Failure to do so will see you needing to pay a daily charge if you want to travel inside the area of the ULEZ.

The introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone helps improve the air quality in central London. Currently, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges London is facing. As road transport is the biggest source of the health-damaging emissions in London, the government is tightening its rules regarding traffic.

ULEZ came into play around on 8 April 2020, with the area set to expand on 25 October 2021. This expansion will see the zone include the inner London area.

Ultra Low Emission Zone map 2021
Oct 2021 ULEZ map; source: TfL

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ULEZ charges: How much am I charged?

If your car doesn’t meet the criteria, you’ll face a £12.50 daily charge – you can pay for it online, here. This charge runs every day of the year too.

You can check if your vehicle is except on TfL’s website, here.

Generally, if you own a petrol car that was registered after 2005, it will meet the ULEZ standards. If you own a diesel car, it’s normally those registered after September 2015 that will be exempt from the charge.

If you own a van, minibus or specialist vehicle, you’ll face slightly different regulations than those in a car. Minimum emission standards are:

  • Petrol: Euro 4
  • Diesel: Euro 6

Petrol van models sold from January 2006 should meet these standards, as too should diesel vans which were sold from September 2016. Like cars, the daily fee for those which don’t meet the standards is £12.50.

ULEZ charges

Motorbikes and mopeds also carry the same cost for failing to have a model that meets the standards. Generally, motorbikes, or similar vehicles, will reach the required Euro 3 standards if they were registered with the DVLA after July 2007.

The cost rises considerably for lorries, coaches and large vehicles that aren’t up to the required standard. Any that don’t meet the Euro VI standards (usually those registered before 2014) must pay a daily charge of £100.

It’s important to note that these costs are in addition to any applicable Congestion Charge tariffs.

Read next: Government car grant for electric cars: A complete guide on the PICG

ULEZ exemptions: What if I live inside the boundary?

If you live within the boundaries of the ULEZ, you’ll receive a ‘sunset period’. This entitles you to a full discount of the charges, so you have more time to have a vehicle that meets the required standards. This discount will run until 24 October 2021. After this time, residents must pay the full charge.

Also benefitting from a sunset period are drivers with a disabled or disabled passenger vehicles tax class. Their exemption runs until 26 October 2025, unless their vehicle changes its tax class. Blue Badge holders, however, must pay the charge from its introduction date.

If you own a historic vehicle and it has historic vehicle tax, you’ll be exempt. This is the case unless the vehicle is used commercially. Agricultural and military vehicles are also exempt, as are certain types of mobile cranes.

Ultra Low Emission Zone map
Current ULEZ map; source: TfL

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Of course, we shouldn’t forget that electric vehicles are also automatically exempt, further encouraging the masses to make the change from ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles to EVs.

While the ULEZ may be an issue for drivers of older cars, it’s important to remember that it has been designed to help us in our everyday life and is just another step on the government’s drive for a cleaner UK.

What do you make of the inclusion of the ULEZ zone? Let us know in the comments section below, or via social media: we’re on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


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