fbpx Driving in the Bristol Clean Air Zone: All You Need to Know

Driving in the Bristol Clean Air Zone: All You Need to Know

Posted on 28th November 2023
Driving in the Bristol Clean Air Zone: All You Need to Know

Government initiatives are in place to try and drive down pollution levels in towns and cities across the country. Much has been said about ULEZ being in place in London and whilst it has been met with some criticism, the scheme aims to benefit road users, residents, and the environment. For some, it has meant selling their current car and looking for used car finance deals that are clean air zone compliant, and for others, it has meant they can finally justify the reasons for purchasing a new car on affordable finance.

In Bristol, a similar initiative has been introduced.  Drivers now entering what is known as The Bristol Clean Air Zone must pay to drive within the area if their vehicle does not match the specific standards. In this edition of our blog, we cover everything about the Bristol Clean Air Zone so that you aren’t caught out when driving in the city.

What is the Bristol Clean Air Zone Cover?

The Bristol Clean Air Zone, or CAZ, is a class D emissions zone that covers all high-emission vehicles that drive through the city centre. The emissions standards used are the same as those implemented by the London ULEZ meaning many older vehicles will fall foul.

Currently, the zone covers roads in Bristol City Centre including the main routes into the city of Cumberland Basin and Portway. The zone applies to all vehicles that do not match the guidelines.

This means that should you drive through Bristol city centre in a taxi, van, bus, truck, light goods vehicle, or car that does not meet the specific requirements, you will be required to pay a daily charge. There is currently no charge for motorbikes entering the zone.

The Bristol Clean Air Zone applies 24 hours a day and all year long. If your vehicle is not exempt and you do not pay the daily charge, you could face stiff penalties.

Where is the Clean Air Zone in Bristol?

The clean air zone covers, as mentioned above, the roads in Bristol City Centre, you’ll be notified that you are both approaching and entering it by the frequent signs on display. These signs have a green cloud with the letter D inside. In some cases, you may want to source an alternative route for your journey to avoid the zone.

There are currently five types of signs in use in Bristol to inform you of your approach, entry and exit of the zone.

Advance warning signs

These signs are used on the roads approaching the CAZ boundary and will be positioned where there are options for you to take an alternative route.

Direction signs

The direction signs for the Bristol Clean Air Zone are used on the approaches to the boundary of the zone and may be found in place of the advance warning signs. They will show how far away the zone is and what route will take you towards it.

Entry signs

These signs are in place at the area where the CAZ begins. A notice for cameras monitoring the traffic will also be present.

Repeater signs

These signs will be in place throughout the zone to remind you that you are driving through it and that cameras are monitoring road users.

Exit signs

These signs are positioned on the exit to inform you that you are leaving the zone. They are marked with the standard CAZ signage but with diagonal lines struck through the cloud.

How much does it cost to enter the Bristol Clean Air Zone?

The price for using the Bristol Clean Air Zone will vary depending on the vehicle you drive. For most people, a charge of £9 per day will apply but if driving something large, like a bus, coach, or HGV, you will be paying £100 per day. The charges are currently applied as shown below:

Vehicle Daily Charge
Petrol Cars £9
Diesel Cars £9
Taxis £9
LGV (Under 3.5t) £9
HGV (Over 3.5t) £100
Buses £100
Coaches £100


How to pay Bristol Clean Air Zone

There are a variety of ways to pay the Bristol Clean Air Zone (CAZ) charge and it is important to know what your options are. If you weren’t to pay the charge and enter the zone, you would be fined £120 as well as the daily charge for your vehicle. Before travelling into or through Bristol, look at the payment options and decide what works best for you.

To make a payment, head to the government website where you can also pay for entering clean air zones in other UK cities too and check your vehicles eligibility.

You can pay your CAZ charge:

  • Up to six days before you travel
  • On the day you travel
  • Up to six days after you enter the zone

You will be able to enter or leave the Bristol CAZ as many times as necessary on each day you have paid and only be charged once for that day. If though, your travel in the zone was to cover two days you would be required to pay twice.

Charges will not be applied if the vehicle is parked in the zone and does not undertake a journey within it.

There are also further exemptions which we will cover later on.

Which vehicles are affected by the Bristol Clean Air Zone?

Your vehicle will be deemed non-compliant with the regulations if its emissions do not meet the requirements set out by the government. They match those of the London ULEZ and mean that:

  • Diesel vehicles with Euro 5 engines or older will be charged
  • Petrol vehicles with Euro 3 engines or older will be charged

Bristol Clean Air Zone exemptions

There are various exemptions in place to assist people with specific needs, challenges, or vehicles. National exemptions will apply in most cases, meaning that your vehicle can enter any clean air zone throughout the country without charge.

You can currently enter the Bristol Clean Air Zone if your vehicle falls under the following categories:

  • It’s an ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV)
  • It’s a vehicle registered as a disabled tax-class vehicle
  • It’s a vehicle registered as a disabled passenger tax class vehicle
  • It’s a military vehicle
  • It’s a historic vehicle
  • It’s a vehicle retrofitted with specific technology that has been accredited by the CVRAS
  • It’s a specific type of agricultural vehicle

In Bristol specifically, you will also find your vehicle exempt from the CAZ if it matches other stipulations. If you have a vehicle that is Tax class 4, 8 11 or 12, you can apply for an exemption. You will not be able to enter the zone without charge, with a vehicle listed in those tax classes until an exemption has been granted. This can take up to 15 working days. After this time, you are free to use the zone at no charge. You will just need to renew the exemption every 12 months.

It has also been set up so that certain visitors and patients to Bristol hospitals will be exempt from the charges. These exemptions run until 30 June 2024 but will not apply to all users of the facilities. You can check your eligibility by visiting the University Hospitals Bristol website.

Exemptions for blue badge holders and the financial assistance scheme to grant exemptions have both now ended.


Bristol Clean Air Zone fine

The fine for entering the Bristol Clean Air Zone in a non-compliant vehicle and not paying the daily charge is set at £120. This can be reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days but you will still be required to pay the relevant daily charge on top of the fine. You have 28 days to pay before further action may be taken. This action could involve the intervention of a third party which will incur additional costs for you.

Bristol Clean Air Zone appeal

If you believe the fine for using the Bristol Clean Air Zone has been issued incorrectly, you have the right to appeal against it.  You can appeal both online and by post. You’ll have up to 28 days from the date of service to launch your appeal. Once it has been received, your fine will be frozen until an investigation has been completed. You will then be notified of a decision based on the supporting evidence you provided in your appeal.

Can you get a clean air zone charge refunded?

You may find that you have paid the CAZ charge to avoid receiving the fine even though you were fully aware that your vehicle is compliant. Where this is the case, you can apply for a refund. This tends to happen when your vehicle may be shown on the government website as non-compliant when it actually meets the requirements of the CAZ.  You will need to do this within six months of making your clean air zone payment.

You could also apply for a refund if:

  • You were diverted into the clean air zone due to planned or unplanned diversions and paid the fee to avoid a fine.
  • You received a hospital exemption after you had paid the zone charge.
  • You selected the wrong vehicle type for your non-UK vehicle and then paid for the correct vehicle.

You will need supporting evidence for any refund claim. This will include evidence of your payment, your date of travel, your vehicle registration number and any other supporting evidence for your claim.

You will not be eligible for a refund if:

  • If you paid the charge without checking if your non-UK vehicle was compliant to avoid a fine but your vehicle was compliant with regulations.
  • You paid the charge but then did not enter the zone.
  • You paid the charge for the wrong date or wrong vehicle

Financial assistance for Bristol Clean Air Zone Compliance

You may be eligible as a resident or a business for some financial support. This support is in place to help with trading in an existing non-compliant vehicle to buy a second-hand vehicle. To qualify, there are various criteria to meet. Individuals earning less than £30,000 per year for example are currently prioritised, as are blue badge holders and small businesses. You will need to register your interest and if you meet the criteria and are accepted, you could find yourself in receipt of a grant ranging from £2,000-£16,000 depending on the vehicle you own.


If you are concerned about the charges you may mount driving into Bristol and are not eligible for resident or business financial support, you could consider Euphoria Finance and secure an affordable and compliant vehicle. We act as direct lenders, meaning everyone has just as much chance to secure the best car finance available to them. We assist with car finance for very poor credit as well as helping secure car finance for young drivers who may find purchasing a car outright a step too far. Why not get a free quick car finance quote today and see how you could be driving your new CAZ-compliant car in Bristol tomorrow?

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