The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was introduced to select areas of London in April 2019 by Mayor Sadiq Khan, and on the 29th of August 2023, it was expanded to cover the entirety of Greater London. But what is the ULEZ charge, why is it in place and how does it affect you? This article will answer all those questions and suggest ways you can avoid the daily 2023 ULEZ charges.
What is the ULEZ charge?
The 2023 ULEZ charge is a fee people must pay to drive their vehicles through certain areas if their vehicles do not meet the required ULEZ emissions standards, which are currently Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds and quadricycles (L category), Euro 4 for petrol vehicles (NOx) and Euro 6 for vehicles with diesel engines (NOx and PM). If your vehicle doesn’t meet the required standards, you will be charged a daily amount for driving in these areas, which could soon mount. See whether your vehicle meets the emission and safety standards with this quick vehicle checker from Transport for London.
The idea was initially introduced in 2014 by then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and implemented in April 2019 with the intention of improving air quality in the city by discouraging the use of older, polluting vehicles that contribute to many health problems for Londoners.
‘Londoners are developing life-changing illnesses such as cancer, asthma and lung disease, and there is a higher risk of dementia in older people. Air pollution even contributes to the premature death of thousands of Londoners every year. It's not just a central London problem. In fact, the greatest number of deaths related to air pollution occur in outer London areas.’ – ULEZ Expansion 2023 - Transport of London
There are further strategies being implemented to reduce vehicle emissions pollution, including the petrol and diesel car bans due to come into operation in 2035. The zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandate orders 80% of new cars and 70% of new vans sold in Great Britain to produce zero emissions by 2030, and 100% by 2035.
Where is the ULEZ expansion in 2023?
To help combat the increasing pollution and air quality in the nation’s capital, ULEZ cameras were introduced in London in 2019, covering the central London area of the congestion charge zone. In 2021, the ULEZ was expanded to include the City of London, the City of Westminster, Southwark, Lewisham, Lambeth, Newham, Greenwich and Tower Hamlets, and in 2023, it has expanded to include the whole of Greater London. From Enfield to Croydon, from Romford to Hayes, if you drive anywhere within this area in a vehicle that doesn’t meet the required standards, you will be charged a daily fee.
If you are unsure whether your property or destination falls within the ULEZ, then click here to visit the Transport for London ULEZ Expansion 2023 page, and scroll down to the postcode checker.
How will I know if I need to pay the ULEZ charge?
As of the 29th of August 2023, the ULEZ expansion includes the whole of the Greater London area, so if you drive through this zone in a vehicle that doesn’t meet the low emission standards, you will be liable to pay the daily charge. ULEZ cameras will capture the registration plate of all vehicles that enter and, if you don’t pay the charge, you will be sent a hefty fine of £160. Make sure to use the online vehicle checker before starting your journey, to avoid any surprises.
What are the ULEZ charges for 2023?
The daily ULEZ charge for 2023 is £12.50 for most vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, vans and specialist vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes and minibuses up to 5 tonnes. Van, lorries or specialist vehicles that weigh over 3.5 tonnes or coaches and minibuses over 5 tonnes will be liable for the daily low emissions zone (LEZ) charge of £100 if they fail to meet the LEZ emissions standards.
For a commuter who works Monday to Friday within the ULEZ, this could mean an annual cost of £3150.
Who pays the ULEZ charge?
Every person who drives within the ULEZ in a vehicle that doesn’t meet the standards will be liable for the daily charge. This includes drivers who reside within the Greater London area. To avoid the large annual cost of the ULEZ, electric cars and hybrids are becoming popular choices for people looking for a new car as they meet the required standards and typically have lower annual running costs.
How do I pay the ULEZ Charges in 2023?
Payment of the 2023 ULEZ charge is very simple. Click here to go directly to Transport for London’s payment portal and follow the quick steps. Payment must be completed by midnight on the same day you entered the ULEZ and, failure to do so may result in a fine of £160.
Are there any ULEZ free times?
The ULEZ is in enforcement 24/7, every day of the year except for Christmas Day, meaning even residents within the zone will be charged at the weekends for necessary errands such as shopping or leisure activities. This is why there is no better time to change to an electric car. Not only can you get high-end performance vehicles, but you won’t have to worry about any changes to criteria down the line or the 2035 banning of petrol and diesel cars.
Are electric cars exempt from the ULEZ charge?
Absolutely. This is where electric vehicles come into their own. With zero emissions, electric vehicles meet the standards to avoid the daily ULEZ charge in 2023, meaning, if you live within the ULEZ, you could save a massive £4562 each year. Over five years that is approximately £22500, and with some electric car lease deals, from Gateway2Lease, available for half that amount, it really is the smarter choice.
What’s more, fully electric vehicles are also exempt from the congestion charge, meaning an electric vehicle gives you the freedom to explore the capital without all the additional costs.
Lease a new electric car
At Gateway2Lease, we have over 15 years of experience in the industry helping business and personal clients alike discover a car they can fall in love with at a price that makes love cheap. If you would like to escape the expensive pitfalls of the ULEZ charge and get behind the wheel of a new electric car, with the latest features and high-end performance, then get in touch with our expert team who will help you find your dream motor.
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