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Is my Car ULEZ Compliant?

Posted on 28th February 2023
Is my Car ULEZ Compliant?

When looking to obtain cheap car finance, you may well see a variety of cars being advertised as ULEZ compliant. You may have even recently purchased a car and now need to know if it fits the ULEZ compliant criteria. In this week’s blog, we explore what ULEZ means and how you can tell if your car is compliant with this emissions-based initiative.

How to check if a car is ULEZ compliant

Before we go any further, you may wish to know if your current vehicle is ULEZ compliant, to find out, simply enter your registration number on the TFL website and you’ll get an instant answer.

What does ULEZ mean?

ULEZ or Ultra Low Emission Zone, is a term used for an area that has more stringent emission control regulations than others. From April 2019, until 29th August 2023, the ULEZ was limited to specific areas of London.

A vehicle that is ULEZ compliant is free to be driven around the area without paying any form of fee. Vehicles not certified as ULEZ compliant will need to pay a fee to be allowed within the zone. The zone operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not including Xmas day.

Since 29th August, the ULEZ has expanded to cover the whole of London meaning that drivers of all vehicles not listed as ULEZ compliant will need to pay the ULEZ charge.

What is the ULEZ expansion?

The ULEZ expansion is a plan that was set out by London Mayor Sadiq Khan in March 2022 to reduce emissions and make the city a cleaner place. The plan was approved and on August 20th, 2023, it came into effect. This now means that the ULEZ has expanded to cover all London boroughs, meaning it also touches the borders of Surrey, Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire, and Buckinghamshire. The M25 is not part of the ULEZ despite many people stating to the contrary. London airports though, are. So should you be heading to Heathrow for example, even if you are boarding a flight, you will still need to pay the charge. You will be entering the zone to get to the airport and entering it again when you leave. So don’t worry, your two-week stay in the sun won’t be accruing days and days of ULEZ charges.

Has the ULEZ expanded before?

Yes, when the ULEZ first started in 2019, it covered the same areas of Central London as those that were covered by the congestion charge, in 2021, it was expanded to cover the Inner London area inside the North and South Circular roads. This meant that approximately 4 million would now be within the ULEZ and 1 million vehicles would be driving in this expanded zone. Reports from TFL showed that at the time 87% of vehicles in the area were already ULEZ compliant and within a month of the expansion, this figure had risen to 92%.

Do residents have to pay the ULEZ charges?

Yes. If you live within the ULEZ and drive your non-compliant vehicle within it, you will be liable to pay the daily charges. Certain exemptions do apply, which we cover further down the page.

What are the emission standards my vehicle needs to meet for the ULEZ?

All vehicle types need to meet a minimum emissions standard when travelling within the ULEZ. This will vary depending on whether the vehicle is a car, motorbike, lorry or larger vehicle.

The current minimum emission standards are:

Car: Euro 4(NOx) for petrol vehicles and Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for a diesel.

Vans (incl those up to 3.5 tonnes): Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol vans and Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel.

Motorbikes & mopeds: All types must meet the Euro 3 standard for Nox

Lorries, coaches, and vehicles over 3.5 tonnes: All vehicles in this category do not need to pay the ULEZ but may find they need to pay the London-wide LEZ charge.

How do I know if I am in the ULEZ?

If you are driving into the ULEZ you will see signposts indicating where the ULEZ is in relation to your road position. Signs will show you in advance how far away you are and once you approach the boundary, directional signs will show the route into the zone and a route away from it. There are then further signs that will tell you that you are in the zone and have cameras recording you.

Why do we have a ULEZ?

An Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is in place in London to reduce the level of air pollution in a dedicated area. Since its introduction in 2019, those living and working in Central London have been able to benefit from significantly cleaner air to breathe. Such is the impact of introducing ULEZ that now, 94% of cars seen on an average day comply with the emission standard, much higher than the 37% recorded upon the introduction of ULEZ. The new expansion will give clearer, cleaner air to 5 million Londoners in the outer boroughs.

What is the ULEZ charge and how do I pay it?

If you are driving a vehicle that is not ULEZ compliant, you will need to pay the daily fee of £12.50. This can be paid before or after the journey if the payment is made within a specific period. If you have driven within the ULEZ zone, you have to be up until midnight on the third day after the journey. If you wish to pay in advance of a journey, you can pay up to 90 days before you enter the ULEZ. You can pay online, via the TFL payment portal or via the TFL Pay to Drive in London app. If you are likely to be driving in the zone often, you can set up an auto-pay feature that will automatically bill you each month. Failure to pay can lead to expensive penalties.

What is the ULEZ penalty fee?

To be able to drive in the ULEZ area, you must pay a daily fee of £12.50, however, should you enter the ULEZ and not pay the daily charge, you could face a penalty charge notice, also known as a PCN. This is set at £180 but will be reduced to £90 if paid within 14 days. Cameras scan each registration plate and send the information to the national database. If you are found to have not paid and have a non-compliant vehicle, you will be issued a penalty.

There are some exemptions though.

What are the ULEZ exemptions?

In some cases, you may find that you are exempt, if only temporarily, from ULEZ charges. At present, disabled people who own vehicles that are registered with the DVLA as having a disabled passenger or driver vehicle tax class are exempt from ULEZ charges until October 2027. After this date, if your vehicle does not comply with ULEZ standards, the daily fee will apply. Vehicles that fall under the WAV (wheelchair-accessible vehicle) category will also be granted this temporary exemption as will recipients of disability benefits. However, for these two categories, an application must be made to the DVLA to have the exemption authorised.

There are further exemptions for specialist agricultural vehicles, military vehicles, historic vehicles and taxis, You should consult the Transport for London website for guidance as to which category your vehicle falls under. With many more cars now in the ULEZ since its August 2023 expansion, it stands to reason that there may be many cars within the zone, that don’t meet the requirements but are not driven. Where this is the case, as long as the car is not driven, the fee will not apply.

The ULEZ scrappage scheme

With the ULEZ now covering all of London, a scheme has been put in place to help those on low incomes or disability benefits, certain small businesses, eligible sole traders and London-based charities.

This scheme will see people within these categories who have non-ULEZ-compliant vehicles offered money to scrap their current vehicle so they can purchase one that falls within ULEZ standards. At present, the £110m scheme will see car owners offered up to £2,000 and motorcyclists offered £1,000. There is £5,000 available for wheelchair-accessible vehicles where they can be scrapped or retrofitted to the ULEZ standard.

For owners of vans or minibuses that fit into the categories mentioned above, there is a grant payment between £5,000-£9,500 available too. However, to be eligible for these funds, your current vehicle must not meet the ULEZ standards, be registered to you or someone you live with, or in the case of disabled persons, be registered with you and/or your registered driver.

Many people will find that they are not eligible for this scheme but the government has set up further incentives to encourage people to use greener transport around the city.

If you have been the recipient of the scrappage grant or are looking for a new vehicle that needs to be ULEZ compliant, speak to us at Euphoria Finance. With access to thousands of vehicles, you can find a variety of used car finance deals that suit your needs. Better still, with our approach to finance, we can say yes to people who normally get told no. As a direct lender, we can approve applications for brand new cars on finance for first-time drivers or those looking for the best car finance for bad credit. Get your free quote today and be driving away tomorrow.

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