Ultra Low Emission Zone - What You Need to Know

Low emission zones or clean air zones are also called LEZ and CAZ, the most popular being the London LEZ and the Ultra-Low Emission Zone or ULEZ. These areas are not limited to London alone. More and more cities in the UK are already implementing their own low emission or clean air zones. You may wonder why these are being introduced in many UK cities and how they affect you as a car owner or driver. 🤔 Let’s find out!

Why UK Cities Have Low Emission Zones

There are plenty of reasons why many councils all over the UK are now introducing clean air  and low emission zones. You will be charged a fee for driving some conventional petrol or diesel vehicles when you enter these areas. 

These clean air zones usually affect drivers who own older vehicles, taxis, vans, and other commercial vehicles. One of the primary reasons this is being implemented is to encourage people to use public transport or choose less polluting vehicles like hybrid and electric cars. 

It isn't just London that features a low emission zone. You'll also find them in other major cities such as Bath. Don't forget to check out our blog which answers the question "Can I drive in Bath's clean air zone?".

What are the Ultra-Low Emission Zones in the UK?

The UK capital has two zones that restrict the use of vehicles with high emissions. The Low Emission Zone covers much of London, while the Ultra-Low Emission Zone includes areas within the North and South Circular roads. The ULEZ has much stricter regulations for cars producing a lot of emissions. 

If your car doesn’t meet the requirements of the ULEZ, then you would have to pay a fee. For vans, motorcycles, and cars, in London the charge is £12.50, whilst heavier vehicles like lorries, coaches, and buses are charged a £100 fee. For all cars, though, congestion charges still apply. You can learn more about congestion and  emission charges in our blog.

London ULEZ 2023 Expansion

Car owners and drivers in London should be aware of the ULEZ 2023 expansion to reduce pollution in the city further. With this expansion, there’s expected to be a reduction of up to 135,000 tonnes of CO2 emission every year.

The 2023 expansion means the ULEZ will reach as far as Newham, Lewisham, Haringey and Brent, but the specifics are yet to be confirmed. UK drivers might be able to receive support through a scrappage scheme. With this, they can switch to green cars that produce less pollution. 

Expanding the ULEZ is part of the process to have net-zero emissions in London by 2030. If nothing is done in the next 30 years about the worsening air pollution, it is said that over 550,000 London residents could suffer from health problems

Areas Within the ULEZ Now

On 25 October 2021, there was an expansion of the ULEZ to include the North and South circular roads within London. The original ULEZ areas are the same as those implementing the Congestion Charge. These areas include the north in St. Pancras, the south in Vauxhall, the east in Shoreditch, and the west in Mayfair. 

If you want to enter the ULEZ, no physical barrier would prevent you from doing so. However, the areas are well-signposted and monitored by number plate reading cameras.

You will receive a penalty notice in your letterbox if your vehicle is non-ULEZ compliant and you don’t pay the charge. This penalty means you must pay a fine of £160, but if you pay within 14 days, your fine might be reduced to £80.

The Cost of Entering ULEZ

Vehicles that drive into the London  ULEZ would have to pay £12.50, which runs concurrently with the £15 Congestion Charge. If the vehicle's owner is registered as disabled or the car is a disabled passenger vehicle, there would be an exemption from paying the ULEZ charge up to 26 October 2025. 

Other exempt vehicles are London black taxis below 15 years old. However, any taxi sold after 1 January 2018 needs to be Zero Emission Capable. This means the vehicle has to be able to travel a minimum of 20 miles using only electric power. The CO2 emissions it produces should be below 75g/km. 

Vehicles Affected by the ULEZ Charge

The vehicles mainly affected by the ULEZ charge are older, along with motorcycles and other vehicles with high CO2 emissions. Petrol cars that cannot meet the Euro 4 standards are also affected. Diesel cars must meet the Euro 6 requirements to be ULEZ compliant. 

So, what cars qualify for ULEZ exemption?

Right now, diesel cars that meet Euro 6 standard, petrol cars that meet Euro 4 standards, fully electric vehicles, and hybrid cars that meet Euro 4 or 6 depending on their fuel type, are exempt from ULEZ charges. 

How Do I Know if My Car is ULEZ Compliant?

Is my car suitable for the ultra-low emission zone? Many drivers are confused about whether their cars are suitable for low-emission zones. The basic guideline is that if your vehicle was built after September 2015, it is likely Euro 6 Compliant. 

If you’re unsure whether your vehicle is ULEZ compliant, here are some basic guidelines:

  • If you have a petrol vehicle built in or before September 2009, it must meet the Euro 5 standards first before it becomes exempt.
  •  For diesel cars, they have to be built from September 2015 and must meet the Euro 6 standards. 

If you’re still having difficulty determining if your car is exempt, you can check online through the TfL checker on its official website. Do use this checker first if you’re going to enter ULEZ areas for the first time. You only have to enter the vehicle registration.   


New rules are often difficult to figure out because there are a lot of details to learn and get familiar with. However, knowing these rules relating to the ULEZ and other clean air zones is essential, so you won’t be surprised to find a penalty notice and have to pay a fine. 

When going to London for the first time, check if your driving car is ULEZ compliant to know whether you must pay a charge for entering the zone or if your vehicle is exempt. Make use of the available tools from the TfL if you’re uncertain. 

If you drive in London often, you might want to consider switching to an electric car. That way, you can enjoy the benefits of being exempt from charges and no longer worry about paying a fine if you forget to pay the ULEZ charge. Check out the cheapest electric cars you can buy in our helpful blog.

What do you think of these new rules? Let us know in the comments, we'd love to hear your opinion!