ULEZ Checker

Check if your vehicle is ULEZ compliant. Simply enter your vehicle registration to check ULEZ.

In some locations in the UK, there are restrictions regarding which type of vehicles you can drive in certain areas. These areas are called low emission zones, and London has perhaps one of the most famous in the UK. With that said, many other locations are following the capital’s lead and have implemented their own schemes. 

Designed to stop high-emission cars and reduce the amount of traffic in heavily built-up areas to improve air quality and limit pollution, if you’re planning a trip to the city, it’s worth seeing if your car can enter these restricted zones without having to pay the penalty. 

Known officially as the Ultra Low Emission Zone, or ULEZ for short, here’s a detailed Car Adviser guide on everything you need to know about using a ULEZ checker and why you should do one.

In this guide

What is ULEZ?

The ULEZ zone operates across all London boroughs and the City of London. In the ULEZ, certain cars are charged to drive through. Designed to help improve the quality of the air in and around the capital, non-compliant cars that enter the ULEZ will be charged a fee. This fee will depend on the type of vehicle you’re driving and the number of emissions it produces. 

The ULEZ in London operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year, including bank holidays. You can only drive through a ULEZ without paying on Christmas Day. This means that you’ll be charged even if a small section of your journey enters a ULEZ zone, even in the dead of night.

If you have a modern car that meets the low emission zone requirements, you won’t be charged to enter these areas. Plus, you’ll also avoid a charge if your vehicle is hybrid or fully electric. 

Entering a ULEZ costs £12.50 for a daily charge if you don’t meet the requirements. This is for any vehicle under 3.5 tonnes, including motorcycles and specialist vehicles. 

Lorries and vans heavier than 3.5 tonnes do not have to pay ULEZ. Instead, they must pay LEZ charges if their vehicle doesn’t meet those standards. 

ULEZ’s aren’t the only restricted area in London where you’re charged to drive. There’s also the Congestion Charge zone, an area in London where they’re trying to limit the number of cars entering. 

ULEZ and Congestion Charge are completely different things, although the areas where these are in place overlap in some locations. No matter what vehicle you drive, you’ll have to pay £15 a day if you enter a congestion charge area. However, this is only in effect if you’re entering the zone between 7am-6pm Monday to Friday and 12pm-6pm on weekends.  

What areas are ULEZ?

Essentially, the entirety of London is within the ULEZ, meaning you’ll likely have to enter it if you drive to the city. Its broader has recently grown, meaning that even more of London falls within the ULEZ than in the past. 

At the centre of the ULEZ zone are Westminster, Soho, Marylebone, and the City of London near the famous Southbank of the river Thames. From here, the ULEZ stretches out in all directions, with its perimeter across all London boroughs and the City of London.

To better understand what areas are included in the ULEZ, it’s worthwhile looking at the Transport for London map to see which areas are included. It’s also possible to search a specific postcode to see if that destination also falls in the ULEZ. 

The central area of the ULEZ, such as Westminster, also overlaps with the congestion zone. This means that if you enter these areas with a vehicle that doesn’t meet ULEZ standards, you could be paying both charges, which could cost you £27.50 a day if you’re driving a car. 

ULEZ Expansion 2023 

From 29th August 2023, the entirety of Greater London is part of the ULEZ area. This means that every borough of London, as well as suburbs like Romford, are affected. This means that millions more people are in the ULEZ zone, benefiting from cleaner air. Only 1/10 of cars in these expanded zones are estimated to not be under regulations, so it’s unlikely that you’ll have to pay more. 

Why did London introduce ULEZ?

It’s been found in multiple studies that the most considerable environmental risk to the lives of those living in London was toxic air pollution. This pollution predominantly came from traffic emissions, so the Mayor of London introduced the ULEZ to combat this issue. Things got so bad that many areas in the city were higher than the legal limits for pollution, meaning immediate action was needed to put things right. 

Toxic air pollution increases the risk of heart and lung diseases and can worsen conditions like asthma. Thankfully, after its implementation, the toxicity of London dropped by 44%, and it’s lowering daily. Also, the most harmful chemical, nitrogen dioxide, also fell by around 30% across all of London, with some areas dropping even more than that.  

Since its introduction, more than 80% of all cars driving in London are compliant with ULEZ, a massive increase from the 39% that was the case in 2017. This had made London’s air a lot cleaner and safer, making it a much better place to live. 

ULEZ also has another benefit for the city. As it still produces a significant income due to fines and fees, that money can be reinvested into the city to help improve roads, cycleways, and buses and improve the transport network in the capital in general.

Those behind ULEZ themselves don’t make a profit at all, and the scheme is committed to keeping their costs as low as possible so that as much as the money made from the fees can be put back in to benefit the taxpayers and those paying the fees.

How does a ULEZ check work?

Checking to see if your car meets the ULEZ standards is one of the easiest car searches you can do online. When you do a ULEZ check, all you need to do is enter your vehicle’s registration. This will look at the car’s information to see if it complies with the regulations of the ULEZ. 

Once you enter your details, the checker will search to see if your car is compliant and then let you know instantly. You can either be compliant or not; unlike road tax, you don’t pay less depending on how much emissions you emit. If your car is just over the limit or is very over the limit, you’ll still pay the £12.50 daily charge. 

What are the ULEZ standards?

When a ULEZ checker looks up to see if your car will be charged when driving through an Ultra Low Emission Zone, it uses the standards published by TFL and compares them with your car’s current emission output to see if you’re under or over these limits. 

Currently, ULEZ uses the Euro emission standards to determine if your vehicle is exempt. The Euro emission standards are tiers of different emission volumes from 1 to 6. If you’re in emission standard 1, your car is producing a lot of emissions from its exhaust. If you’re in Euro emission 6, your vehicle produces low amounts of Co2 and other pollutants. 

Currently, cars need to meet the Euro 6 emission standards if you’re driving a diesel car and Euro 4 if you’re driving a petrol car. Most cars registered by the DVLA after 2005 will likely be cars that meet these standards, although it’s worth checking if your car is older, as many cars available since 2001 can also meet these standards. 

Vans also need to meet the Euro 6 emission standard if diesel and Euro 4 if they’re petrol. All diesel vans sold after 2016 should be compliant, and most petrol vans registered from 2006 will also meet these standards. However, it’s crucial mentioning that ULEZ is enforced based on emissions and not age. Some new vans may fail ULEZ standards, whereas older vans could meet them. 

Motorcycles only have to pay ULEZ if they do not meet Euro 3 emission standards. This typically means that it’d be okay if the vehicle was registered after 2007. 

Why should you perform a ULEZ check?

Knowing where you can and can’t drive with your car is important. Performing a check will let you know if you have to pay any extra charges when entering a ULEZ zone. It’s better to be prepared and know what to expect than to have a penalty notice delivered to you because you weren’t aware that you could not drive your car in London. 

If you’re buying a car, and plan on visiting London regularly or living in the area, then the vehicle must meet these requirements; otherwise, you’ll be paying a considerable amount of money to use it. In addition to a ULEZ check, you should also conduct a Tax check and MOT check to ensure that the car is in good condition. You can learn more about both types of checks here on Car Adviser. 

How to pay a ULEZ charge?

If you drive a vehicle that isn’t within ULEZ standards, you will have to pay a fee each time you enter the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London. Thankfully, paying this charge is pretty easy, and although it’s an annoying additional charge you’ll want to avoid, it’s not a difficult ordeal to pay. 

There are two options regarding when you can pay your ULEZ charge. If you’ve pre-planned your journey, you can pay for your trip up to 90 days in advance or pay by midnight three days after you’ve entered the zone. If you don’t pay by this time, you may be given a Penalty Charge Notice, which will have you pay more than the original £12.50 day rate. 

There are a few ways where you can pay your ULEZ charge. You can pay online directly with TFL through their official website. Here you’ll be able to enter your car and card details to complete the payment. When doing this, you need to ensure that you’re not using fake websites to avoid fraud. 

To ensure you’re paying via official means, you can also download the TFL Pay to drive in London app on your phone. This application makes it much easier to pay for your ULEZ and other charges, including the Congestion Charge. The app also allows you to search postcodes to see if you’re entering a charging zone. 

However, the best option for paying ULEZ charges is AutoPay. This allows you to pay bills automatically every month for any congestion chargers and ULEZ charges you may own. You can set up AutoPay via the app, making paying for ULEZ easy and simple. 

How to avoid being charged ULEZ?

If you’re currently driving a car that isn’t compliant with ULEZ, you may be thinking about what you can do to avoid paying the charge. 

The most obvious way to avoid any fees is to simply not drive your vehicle in that area. If you’re not local to London, you can instead journey there via public transport such as buses or trains. However, when doing this, consider if paying the fee and costs of fuel will actually be cheaper than the public transport fare. 

As a local in London, you can instead scrap your ULEZ car and choose to travel via bike or E-scooter. There are many areas where you can pick up a public bike and ride that to your destination. Some journeys may be quicker on a bike than when driving as you’ll avoid traffic. Getting a bike could be a good option if you want to avoid ULEZ and decrease your travel costs. 

If you want to drive to London, you could opt for a park-and-ride scheme. This is where you can drive and park your car in an area that’s outside the low emission zone and then complete the rest of your journey by a bus or train ride. 

Another thing you can do to avoid any ULEZ charges is simply swap your vehicle and get a new one. Many Londoners have already done this as it can save them a lot of cash. You can easily pick up a second-hand car online that meets ULEZ standards from multiple dealerships and online websites. To help you, there are many guides on buying used cars here on Car Adviser, and we’d suggest that getting a new vehicle that’s compliant is the best way to avoid having to pay ULEZ. 

One thing you can also try to avoid having to pay ULEZ is using an app that can give you directions to your location that avoids these ULEZ areas. Apps like Waze, which works as a satnav, can give you shortcuts and directions that avoid Ultra Low Emission Zones, which can be handy if you’re driving a car that’s not in regulation. Be aware that depending on your location, there may not be an available route that avoids ULEZ and that trying to drive around it may increase the length of your journey. 

If you want to reduce your pay, you can also try car-sharing with other people. With this option, you’ll split the fee between you, reducing how much you have to pay. This isn’t a long-term solution but can be a good plan if you’re visiting the capital with friends and none of you owns a car that won’t be charged. 

ULEZ Check FAQs

Many vehicles don't have to pay ULEZ charges when entering the zone within London. These are vehicles that meet the requirements and are either Euro Emission 6 for diesel cars or Euro Emission 4 for petrol cars. 

Typically, if your car is registered after 2005 and your van registered after 2015, then they'll likely be okay, and you won't have to pay. However, be sure to check properly, as there are still some modern vehicles that have to pay ULEZ. 

As this charge punishes those driving vehicles that produce a lot of emissions, you won't have to pay anything if you're driving an electric car, making them a good option.

Also, larger vehicles such as vans over 3.5 tonnes and buses over 5 tonnes do not have to pay ULEZ charges. Instead, they will need to pay a LEZ charge if their vehicle doesn't meet those standards.

London is the only UK city with an Ultra Low Emission Zone, making it unique. However, many locations and cities elsewhere have implemented or are planning to implement a similar style of clean air zones that will operate in pretty much the same way as the ULEZ in London. 

Currently, other major cities like Manchester and Birmingham have implemented their own schemes, and other locations like Bristol, Cardiff, and Newcastle also have these. 

This means that when driving to new locations in the UK, you should first check to see if there are any vehicle restrictions and charges in specific locations and routes. 

The ULEZ is a daily charge and isn't one that you can accumulate through making multiple trips in the area in a single day. You're not charged for each trip; you're charged a flat rate for any day that you enter the zone with a car that isn't compliant. 

This means that if you enter the zone twice or more in one day, you won't have to pay anything more. The rate is £12.50, which is the most you can pay for a single day. Despite this, you are encouraged to limit the amount you need to drive in these zones to help minimise the pollution and emissions you're producing. 

Owning a car, van or motorcycle that doesn't meet ULEZ standards while living in London can be a much issue. This is because even if you don't use the car, you'll have to pay this fee for it to sit on your driveway. This is why many Londoners have felt like they've been forced to replace their old car with a new one, as they could be paying £4,550 just to keep their non-compliant vehicle. 

Thankfully, there is support from TFL that can help you replace your current vehicle. Depending on your circumstances, you can apply for the ULEZ Scrappage Scheme. With this initiative, you can get up to £2,000 when scraping your car and £1,000 for a motorbike. This cash can be used to help you buy a compliant vehicle. 

To qualify, you must live in any of the London Boroughs affected by ULEZ. You also need to be receiving certain benefits from the government. Changes in July 2023 now mean those receiving child benefits can apply for the scheme. In addition, small businesses with less than 50 employees can also apply, and charities registered in London can also scrap or retrofit up to 3 vans. 

If you’re not eligible for the scheme, you can also try selling your car online or through a dealership to get money for a new one.

If you qualify, you could get £1,000 from a scrapped motorcycle or £2,000 from a scrapped car which can be put towards buying a new vehicle which meets the standards. You can also sell your car on various websites and dealerships if you don't claim benefits.  

When entering a ULEZ zone, you may be tempted not to pay it because you may think that those in charge will be unable to know if you've entered it. However, this won't work because the network uses a system of cameras that takes photos of your registration plate. This is how the scheme knows if you've been driving in one of these zones. 

These cameras are only located at the entrances and exits of the zone and are positioned in this way to limit how many cameras they need in operation at one time. Not every entrance and exit point in and out of the ULEZ zone has a camera, meaning you could get lucky and avoid them. However, it's not worth the risk as there are no details on where there are no cameras. 

Once your registration plate is identified, a check will be made on its information. If your car is deemed compliant, you won't have to pay anything. If the assessment determines that your car doesn't produce low enough emissions, then you'll have to pay. Make sure you make this payment within three days, as you will likely not be alerted to do so.

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