ULEZ expansion: how to avoid £12.50 charge as map changes

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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) has expanded. With 1-in-5 London cars now at risk of a £12.50 daily charge, read on to make sure you aren’t hit by a nasty surprise.

What’s happening?

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 covers Central London but has now expanded as far out as (but not including!) the North Circular and South Circular roads. That’s a massive increase of 1,700% - so don’t get caught out if you're used to the previous boundaries.

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.

London's ULEZ has expanded in size by 1,700%. This means vehicles that don't meet anti-pollution standards face a £12.50 daily charge. The rules operate around the clock except Christmas.

Who’s at risk?

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.

New ULEZ boundary

The new ULEZ map boundary stretches 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.

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

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

How it works

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!

What about the 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.

Scrap your car

Are all these charges starting to add up? If you’d rather get rid of your current vehicle and buy something greener (or just use public transport), you could be eligible for a grant.

If you meet the conditions, you could receive:

  • £2,000 for scrapping a car
  • £1,000 for scrapping a motorcycle
  • £7,000 for scrapping a charity minibus up to and including 5 tonnes gross vehicle weight, plus £2,500 contribution towards running costs of a replacement electric minibus

Not bad! Check out the details 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 and monthly insurance are just the thing for city drivers. And don’t forget to check out Smart Pricing - the better you drive, the more you could save.

Updated on 22nd October 2021