ULEZ expansion: London road rules changing again in 2023

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What's happening?
Who's at risk?
New ULEZ map
How it works
Congestion charge
Scrap your car
Go green

London’s ultra low emission zone (abbreviated as ULEZ) expanded in 2021 and again in August 2023. Here's a round-up of the new changes, which were introduced on August 29 👇

ULEZ expansion

The ULEZ was planned by Boris Johnson and implemented (and now expanded) by Sadiq Khan. It aims to convince drivers to look for alternate, greener ways of travelling through the city, like the bus or Tube.

It previously covered just Central London but in 2021 it expanded as far out as (but not including!) the North Circular and South Circular roads. That was a massive increase of 1,700% - and it changed again in August 2023, covering all 33 boroughs.

Anyone whose vehicle doesn't meet environmental standards will be slapped with a £12.50 charge for every day they drive in this new zone - so make sure you're aware of the rules.

ULEZ car requirements

Let’s talk about science for a minute - it’ll help, we promise! Cars that produce nitrogen oxide (Nox) and particulate matter (PM) are particularly bad for the environment, so they’re most at risk here.

Any driver whose vehicle doesn’t meet European emission rules (known as Euro standards) faces a charge. Vehicles need to meet the following standards to drive within the ULEZ:

  • Euro 3 (NOx) for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles
  • Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans and other specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight) and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes)
  • Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and other specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes)

Newer cars are almost certainly fine, and electric vehicles will all pass the test. But older vehicles that have been on the road for a number of years could fail - and anyone who doesn’t meet those conditions has to pay up.

Whatever you drive, you can check your vehicle’s emissions standard here.

Classic cars

Classic cars registered more than 40 years ago are exempt.

The 40-year period rolls forward each year. For example: last year, cars that were registered before January 1, 1972 were exempt, and this year the exemption now includes cars registered before January 1, 1973. In 2024, the exemption will include cars registered before January 1, 1974.

You can find out more here.

Electric cars are exempt from the ULEZ restrictions and charges
Electric cars are exempt from the ULEZ restrictions and charges

ULEZ map

Road signs make it clear when you’re nearing, and entering, the zone - so just keep an eye out while driving in the capital.

The ULEZ map previously stretched from the corner of Kew Gardens in the west to Woolwich in the east, and from Dulwich in the south through Tottenham in the north.

However, from August 2023 the zone now includes all 33 London boroughs.

You can check out the new map here. Ignorance is no excuse, so make sure you’re aware of the new boundaries.

How to pay ULEZ

It’s all very simple, with no toll booths or barriers. Instead, cameras track all vehicles driving in the ULEZ. These cameras scan licence plates, quickly assessing whether your vehicle meets standards.

You can pay the ULEZ charge in advance or on-the-day here. You can also set up auto-pay here.

If you forget, you have three more days to pay before you run the gift of getting fined £160 - so don’t hang about!

London congestion charge

Sorry, but drivers must also pay to enter the congestion zone - which targets all vehicles, regardless of emissions (unless you have a special exemption).

The congestion charge zone is identical to the original ULEZ map, which covered a much smaller area of Central London, with a £15 daily charge in place between 7am and 10pm.

It could be time to go green with a crackdown on diesel and petrol cars nearing
It could be time to go green with a crackdown on diesel and petrol cars nearing

Scrap your car

A Transport for London scrappage scheme can help out drivers on certain benefits or low-income levels, if their car does not meet the ULEZ requirements.

Eligible applicants can get up to £2,000 for scrapping their car or up to £1,000 for their motorcycle.

You can find all the details you need here.

Go green

With new petrol and diesel cars facing the chop in 2030 (and hybrids in 2035), now could be the time to go green and buy an electric car.

Electric cars can be more expensive than traditional gas-guzzlers, but they are better for the environment and could be cheaper to run in the long-term.

However, they aren’t a realistic option for everyone just yet. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned that the UK will need 10 times more charging points by 2030 if it wants to meet its net zero emissions target.

**Whatever you decide, we have flexible insurance perfect for you. Our temporary insurance has policies from 1 hour to 28 days - perfect for borrowing a car for some city driving.

Whatever you're after, it only takes a few minutes to get a quote.

Updated on 29th August 2023