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The expansion of London’s ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) is set to cover virtually everything within the M25 motorway from 29 August 2023. The zone, intended to improve air quality in the nation’s capital, enforces a daily charge payable by older vehicles that don’t meet the latest emissions standards.

With these standards affecting most petrol cars sold before September 2005 and diesel cars sold before September 2015, you may be wondering how to tell if your car’s liable to pay the charge, how you pay, or even “how much is my car worth now that it’s not compliant?” 

We’ll aim to answer these and more below.

What exactly is the ULEZ?

The ULEZ is an effort to reduce emissions from cars by discouraging older and more polluting vehicles from driving in the capital. Vehicles entering the boundary of the zone will be checked automatically via cameras, and if they don’t meet the necessary emissions standards their drivers will have to pay a daily charge or be liable for a fine.

Where is the ULEZ boundary?

While the existing ULEZ covers the area inside the North and South Circular roads, the new area is more than three times the size and extends out to cover almost everything inside the M25 motorway. This means it extends as far as the borders of Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Kent, as well as all of London.

Importantly for UK travellers and arrivals, Heathrow Airport is included within the ULEZ boundaries.

What are the ULEZ standards?

ULEZ-compliant vehicles are those that meet Euro 4 emissions standards for petrol cars or Euro 6 emissions for diesel cars. These were introduced in September 2005 and September 2015 respectively, though some vehicles built earlier do comply.

Transport for London has a useful checker tool to tell you if your vehicle is liable to pay the charge or not.

How much is the ULEZ charge and when do I have to pay it?

For cars and light commercial vehicles, it costs £12.50 a day to enter the London ULEZ. The charge applies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and every day of the year except for christmas day.

A charging day starts and ends at midnight – so if you enter the zone before midnight and leave after, you’ll have to pay twice. The charge doesn’t apply if your vehicle doesn’t move – so if you enter, park for a few days, and then leave, you’ll only be charged for the first and last days.

How do I pay the ULEZ charge?

The charge is payable by phone or online, or via the TfL smartphone app. You must pay the charge by midnight on the third day after your journey. 

Be sure to use only the official TfL website to pay the charge, or the official phone line (open 8am-8pm Monday-Friday.

UK: 0343 222 2222
International: +44 343 222 2222
Textphone: 020 7649 9123

What’s the fine for not paying the ULEZ charge?

The penalty for not paying the ULEZ charge is £160, or £80 if you pay within the first 14 days. You can pay or challenge the charge online.

What cars are exempt from the ULEZ?

Those that meet the emissions standards don’t have to pay. In addition, cars that are more than 40 years old and registered as historic are exempt. Disabled and blue badge holders have a grace period until October 2027 before their vehicle has to pay.

Is my car worth less now?

As the ULEZ expands there’s usually an exodus as London residents shift on their older motors that no longer meet the standards. If you’re trying to sell a similar vehicle during this time, it’s likely you’ll find less demand.

Outside of London, though, very little has changed, and desirable vehicles remain desirable whether ULEZ-compliant or not. Getting a free car valuation can be a great way to find out just what your car is worth in a private sale or trade-in.

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