Plan Insurance Blog

Complete Guide to ULEZ

Complete Guide to ULEZ: the “Emission Surcharge” Explained

The Emission Surcharge and ULEZ schemes are designed to tackle pollution in the Capital. TfL believe that, by discouraging the presence of the worst offending vehicles in central areas, the dangerously high levels of gases and particulates in London’s air can be greatly reduced.

After October 23rd 2017, any vehicle entering central London will need to meet strict emission standards; otherwise they will be subject to a daily £10 “Emissions Surcharge”. This fee is also being referred to as the Toxicity Charge or T-Charge.

It will be due in addition to the Congestion Charge (CC) and apply in the same zone between Monday –Friday and 7am – 6pm (with some exceptions.) Payment will be possible via an app in a similar manner to the CC.


Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) Brought Forward

When ULEZ is introduced, the Emissions Surcharge will end. Like the surcharge, ULEZ will cover all areas within the congestion charge zone. However it will be enforced 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

TfL are currently consulting on proposals to strengthen the ULEZ emissions standard to also cover Particulate Matter (PM) emissions from diesel vehicles. ULEZ will replace the T-Charge and it will apply to all vehicles that fail to reach NOx emission standards.

There will be an additional consultation to garner opinion on the possibility of expanding the reach of ULEZ over a greater area. The Mayor is also proposing to expand the ULEZ across Greater London for heavy vehicles, including buses, coaches and lorries in 2020, then up to the North and South Circular roads for cars and vans in 2021.

The existing approved ULEZ scheme set emission standards for diesel vehicles to meet Euro 6/VI NOx emissions, or Euro 4 for petrol and Euro 3 for motorcycles and similar vehicles. Some vehicles that meet Euro 6 diesel standards for NOx can emit up to six times the Euro 6 standard for PM.

One of TfL’s stated aims for the desired revision of the original plans is to align the ULEZ with the national standards as laid out in the government’s National Air Quality Plan.


IS ULEZ in addition to LEZ?

Drivers in London operating older HGV’s that meet the below criteria should be familiar with their LEZ requirements:

  • Run on diesel
  • Weigh over 3.5 tonnes GVW
  • Were registered as new before 1st October 2006 (with only a partial filter or an eligible engine with no modification fitted to reduce emissions)

LEZ was introduced in 2008 to encourage older, more polluting HGVs to reduce their emissions. It covers most of greater London. Like ULEZ, the LEZ operates 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, including weekends, public and Bank Holidays plus leap years.

The ULEZ emission standards are different from the Low Emission Zone. If you drive a HGV, coach, bus, minibus or large van, you must ensure that you meet both.

ULEZ charges will be in addition to those applied for entering the LEZ.


How much will ULEZ Cost Motorists

The table below explains in detail the costs faced by drivers wishing to enter the ULEZ if their vehicles do meet the required emission standards. Those in cars will incur a £12.50 fee and HGV’s/Coaches will need to pay £100. This will be in addition to the CCZ fee but not the T-charge (which will cease to apply once ULEZ is introduced.)

ULEZ standards table - source tfl-ultra-low-emission-zone-leaflet-private


ULEZ Fines

If a vehicle that fails to meet emissions standards enters the ULEZ and doesn’t pay the set fee, a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) will be issued to the registered owner or operator. This PCN is in addition to the CC or LEZ penalties received.

The fine for motorcycles, cars, vans and minibuses will be £130 (with a reduction to £65 for prompt payment within 14 days). HGVs, coaches and buses will receive a £1,000 PCN that will be reduced to £500 if settled within the 14 days period.


ULEZ Time Frame for Taxi & Private Hire

June 17 Consultation 3a ends– regarding strengthening emissions standards to reduce particulate matter

Autumn 17 Consultation 3b – part of mandatory process to facilitate TfL’s proposals to expand the ULEZ’s boundaries beyond central London

October 2017 Emission surcharge introduced to discourage the use of older, more polluting vehicles by charging £10/day in addition to the congestion charge. Monday to Friday 7am – 6pm.

8th April 2019 Proposed date for the introduction of the ULEZ (17 months early with changes to emission standards for diesel vehicles and a residents’ sunset period). Cameras will operate 24/7 and cross reference databases to check vehicle emission levels. A penalty charge will be issued if the vehicle doesn’t meet the standards and the charge is not paid.

7th September 2020 –Original date planned for implementing ULEZ


Special Exemptions to ULEZ

Under the proposals,TfL are planning to exempt disabled tax class vehicles from ULEZ until 2023. This is part of a “sunset period.” However, private hire vehicles carrying disabled passengers will not be exempt.

Residents living in the ULEZ will be granted a three year sunset period, with a 100% discount, until 6th September 2023. Residents must have registered with TfL to receive the discount. Details on this process will be available nearer the time that the ULEZ comes into force.

If you are a blue badge holder or operate a 9+ seater vehicle that is currently registered for a congestion charge discount or is totally exempt, your vehicle will still need to meet the required emissions standards or it will be subject to the T-Charge.


Taxis and private hire vehicles affected by ULEZ

Going forward, London black taxis will be exempt from both the T-Charge and ULEZ. Though any new taxi registered after January 1st 2018 will need to be Zero Emission Capable (ZEC.)

TfL will require all private hire vehicles licensed for the first time between 1st January 2018 and 31 December 2019 to feature a Euro 6 petrol or diesel engine, or a Euro 4 petrol-hybrid engine.

After 1st January 2020, all new private hire vehicles (classed as those under 18 months old) licensed for the first time will need to be zero emission capable.

Older private hire vehicles (those over 18 months old) will need to feature a Euro 6 engine when licensed for the first time between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2022. They will also need to be zero emission capable from 2023.

Any taxis and private hire vehicles entering London that are not licensed by TfL will be due to pay both the Congestion Charge and also the Emission Surcharge/ ULEZ Charge if they fail to meet the required emission criteria.


Particulate Matters Standards for all vehicles in ULEZ

To avoid having to pay a charge when entering the ULEZ your vehicle must at least meet the applicable emission standards listed below:

Euro 3 – Motor cycles

Euro 4 – Petrol cars

Euro 6 – Diesel cars, vans, minibuses

Euro VI – Lorries, buses, coaches


TfL’s guide on non-compliant vehicles

If your car is a diesel registered before September 1st 2015, it is likely that your vehicle will fail to meet the standards and you will be required to pay the T-Charge/ULEZ fee.

If your car runs on petrol and was registered before January 1st 2006, it is likely that your vehicle will fail to meet the standards and you will be required to pay the T-Charge/ULEZ fee.

If your lorry runs on diesel, bio-diesel, CNG or liquid natural gas (spark ignition) and was registered before January 1st 2014, it is likely that your vehicle will fail to meet the standards and you will be required to pay the T-Charge/ULEZ fee.

Some manufacturers adopted the Euro 4 and 6 standards earlier than required. Mercedes-Benz and BMW were known to be producing some Euro 6 diesel models as early as 2012. If you believe your vehicle might be acceptable despite being produced prior to the dates stated above, it is worth checking directly with your manufacturer.


How can I check if my vehicle meets the Ultra Low Emission Zone standards?

The emission standard of your vehicle can usually be determined by the date of first registration which can be found in the vehicle registration document, also known as the V5C, in Section B. For newer vehicles, the Euro standard may be listed on the V5C in section D.2.

If it is not listed, use the date of registration as new with the DVSA as a guide, which can be found in section B. The date of first registration can also be found at:

Or use TfL’s ULEZ vehicle checker tool. Though if you have any doubt, TfL strongly recommend that you contact your manufacturer directly for a definitive answer.


Plug-in Grants Available

The government is offering grants for Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) vehicles of up to £4,500 to assist motorists with upgrading their vehicles. The amount available is dependent on the electric range of the vehicle in question If you’d like more information on the funding available, visit the office for low emission vehicles.


ULEZ Consultation

The Licenced Private Hire Car Association fear that the Mayor is using the T-Charge and ULEZ as stealth taxes in order to meet a funding deficit. In their opinion, his freeze on fares has left a shortfall in City Hall’s finance plans of £640 million.

Have your say on TfL’s plan to introduce ULEZ 17 months earlier in central London and to strengthen the emissions standard to also cover Particulate Matter (PM) emissions from diesel vehicles.

Completing the below consultation should take no more than 15 minutes. The deadline for doing so is June 25th.




Every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this ULEZ Guide is accurate at the time of publishing. However, Plan cannot accept liability for its accuracy.