With more of us heading back into London to see events and enjoy days out, we look at if you will need to pay the London Congestion Charge and ULEZ charge when driving in the capital at weekends and on bank holidays?
Find out if you will need to pay up to £30 to drive in London on Christmas Day as you visit friends
What is the London Congestion Charge and what times do I pay it?
The London Congestion Charge is a Transport for London payment that drivers must make simply to driving in the majority of London between 07:00 and 22:00 seven days a week. The daily charge is £15 if paid in advance or by auto pay, or £17.50 if paid by midnight of the third charging day after travel in the London Congestion Charge Zone. Payment for this can only be online or by phone.
What is the ULEZ charge and what times do I pay it?
If your car does not meet minimum emissions standards when driving within the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), a further £12.50 must also be paid alongside the Congestion Charge.
The ULEZ charge operates from midnight to midnight seven days a week.
Similar schemes are appearing in cities across the UK, such as in Bristol and Oxford, where drivers are also charged depending on emissions.
When and where is the ULEZ expanding to in London from Monday 25 October?
From 25 October 2021, the ULEZ charging area expanded beyond central London to create a single, larger zone up to, but not including, the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205).
To avoid paying the ULEZ, most cars must meet or exceed these standards:
Petrol: Euro 4
Diesel: Euro 6
Drivers of older cars and vans will pay a £12.50 every day they drive in the zone.
Is the ULEZ going to get bigger - to take in all of Greater London?
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has now launched a consultation that could see the Ultra Low Emission Zone expand to cover all of Greater London. This could add up to 3.5million people to those who could need to pay the daily charge just to drive in the capital's boroughs.
The move would see the scheme's currently boundary expand from the North and South Circular roads to encompass all of Greater London from August 29, 2023.
An estimation from Khan's mayoral office says that 135,000 new vehicles could be hit with the daily charge - earning around £1.7million each day.
Will the Congestion Charge and ULEZ be payable during the rail strikes in June?
With much of the nation's rail network grinding to a halt due to rail strikes by on June 21, 23 and 25, many workers are asking if the ULEZ and Congestion Charge will be waived to help them get into work with out paying more than £30 in potential charges just to enter the capital.
However, at the time of writing, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has not agreed to scrap the charge for the days the strikes are taking place. We will keep this page updated if anything changes.
Is the Congestion Charge and ULEZ payable on weekends?
Yes - both charges apply to 'qualifying' motorists driving in London on all weekends - Saturday and Sunday - aside from the festive period, when the Congestion Charge may be suspended for a week, and the ULEZ for Christmas Day.
Is the ULEZ and Congestion Charge paid on bank holidays?
Aside from Christmas Day, the ULEZ is paid on all bank holidays.
The London Congestion Charge is paid on all spring and summer bank holidays, but is suspended on Christmas Day - and it was also made free on other bank holidays across the festive period in 2021/22 - so expect more of the same in 2022/23 if policy remains the same.
Is the ULEZ and Congestion Charge paid over Easter?
Yes - no treats for drivers, the Congestion Charge and ULEZ apply as normal on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.
Will I have to pay the London Congestion Charge charge over the Christmas period 2022?
No announcement has been made for Christmas 2022 yet, but the Congestion Charge was suspended from Saturday 25 December 2021 through to Monday 3 January 2022 - so we could expect something similar in for the festive period in 2022.
Will I have to pay the ULEZ over the Christmas period in 2022?
It looks likely - the ULEZ was suspended on Christmas Day in 2021, but was then payable across the rest of the holiday period.
Will I have to pay the ULEZ on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day?
Yes - the ULEZ will be payable as normal on these days in 2022/23.
Will I have to pay the London Congestion Charge on Christmas Day?
The Congestion Charge is usually suspended on Christmas Day and there is no indication this will differ in 2022.
Please note, Christmas Eve is classed as a normal day and driver entering on 24 December will need to pay the charge when grabbing those last-minute gifts.
Will I have to pay the ULEZ Charge on Christmas Day?
While the ULEZ charge is payable by qualifying vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week, drivers of these older car are spared the charge on Christmas Day. Drivers will not have to pay on Christmas Day, but the respite is for December 25 only and runs from midnight to midnight.
I have heard Congestion Charge hours and prices are changing next year?
Yes. This is true - and some changes have already come into force. These cover pricing and the removal of some discounts. The hours of operation will also change in February 2022. We have a full guide to the London Congestion Charge changes here.
Are Blue Badge holders exempt from the charge?
No. The London Mayor Sadiq Khan says that Blue Badge holders must still pay the charge, despite many needing their vehicles to get around in the capital. His website comment says:
'Blue Badge holders do not receive a discount for ULEZ because while Blue Badge holders may need to use a private vehicle, they do have a choice over using or nominating a ULEZ-compliant vehicle.'
However, many hard-pressed motorists may not consider driving an older car as a lifestyle choice.
Do owners of electric vehicles need to pay the Congestion Charge and ULEZ?
No. Owners of EVs do not need to pay the London Congestion Charge at all. However, you will need to create an account and register your vehicle as a purely battery-powered car, otherwise you could be fined for non-payment.
However, there are plans to scrap the exemption for all vehicles by 2025.
EV owners are also exempt from paying the ULEZ charge.
Do plug-in hybrid vehicles need to pay?
Yes - the discount for low-emission hybrids has been scrapped for the London Congestion Charge, meaning it must be paid.
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