Bristol Clean Air Zone (CAZ) – the 2024 guide

    Bristol’s Clean Air Zone went live at the end of November, 2022. This part of the city centre charges all drivers of vehicles that are not compliant with emissions standards.

    Air pollution targets and net zero targets can both be addressed by removing some of the highest polluting vehicles from our roads, which is why various classes of CAZ are being rolled out across the UK, including in nearby Bath. In 2023, we’re all starting to hear a lot more about Clean Air Zones (CAZ) and Low Emission Zones (LEZ) across the UK.

    Bristol's Clean Air Zone has been enforced since 2022
    Bristol has enforced a Class D Clean Air Zone (CAZ) since 2022.

    For more information about Bristol’s CAZ, read on.

    Does Bristol have a clean air zone?

    Yes, Bristol operates a Class D CAZ, meaning that all vehicle types are charged by the day whenever they enter the zone, unless they comply with certain emissions standards.

    What is a Clean Air Zone (CAZ)?

    The UK government published plans to reduce air pollution in 2015, with an emphasis on implementing Clean Air Zones. There were already some LEZ in existence, e.g. in London, which have typically been bespoke in design, depending on the needs and infrastructure of the area. 

    Clean Air Zones, however, all follow a scheme. They can be charging or non-charging, money-wise, and are graded in Classes from A to D:

    ClassVehicle type
    ABuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles
    BBuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
    CBuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs, light goods vehicles (LGVs), vans, minibuses
    EBuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs, LGVs, vans, minibuses, cars, the local authority has the option to include motorcycles
    UK CAZ classifications and the vehicles they apply to.

    Any town or city running a CAZ has the same compliance standards in place:

    Vehicle typeCAZ minimum standard
    MotorcyclesEuro 3
    Vans, minibuses, taxis, private hire vehicles, carsEuro 4 (petrol engine) and Euro 6 (diesel engine)
    Buses, coaches, heavy goods vehiclesEuro V1
    Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)Automatically compliant
    CAZ compliance minimum standards by vehicle type

    The main aspects of CAZ schemes are decided by the UK government, but the fee and penalty costs for non-compliant vehicles, and implementation details including exemptions, are handled by the local council.

    Where is the Bristol CAZ?

    The Bristol Clean Air Zone covers Temple Quay to the East, not including the train station, and St James Park to the North. It covers the centre as far south as Coronation Road, and extends west to Brunel Way and Hotwell Road. You can view a full Bristol clean air zone map on Clean Air for Bristol.

    When did the Bristol CAZ start?

    The Bristol Clean Air Zone has been enforced since 28th November, 2022. The CAZ operates 24/7. Like all other regulated emission zones, the charge for driving a non-compliant vehicle in Bristol is a daily rate. So, if you enter and exit the zones multiple times in one calendar day, you will only pay for the first entrance into the zone.

    Why did Bristol start charging drivers?

    Approximately 36,000 deaths in the UK can be attributed to air pollution, each year. Bristol has been identified as a city centre with high levels of pollution coming from vehicles, requiring a CAZ to lower these Nitrogen Dioxide, CO and particulate matter. 

    It’s estimated that at least 70% of vehicles entering the zone are already compliant with the emissions criteria for Bristol’s CAZ. As a Class D zone, private cars are subject to charges, as well as vans, taxis, LGVs, HGVs, buses, coaches, and all other vehicle types, except from motorcycles and mopeds. There are specific and means-tested exemptions, listed below.

    Bristol clean air zone 2022
    The Bristol clean air zone will affect locals and visitors alike.

    What does it cost to drive in Bristol?

    The daily rate for entering the Bristol CAZ in a non-compliant vehicle varies depending on what you’re driving:

    Vehicle typeCAZ daily charge
    Private passenger car (petrol or diesel)£9
    Light Goods Vehicle (LGV)£9
    Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV)£100
    Bus or coach£100
    Daily charge to drive a non-compliant vehicle in Bristol’s CAZ

    The daily charge can be paid up to six days before travel, on the day of travel, or up to six days after leaving the zone. Failure to pay the daily charge will result in a Penalty Charge Notice, which costs £120. When this is paid within two weeks, it’s reduced to £60.

    Refunds are not issued for drivers who pay in advance, but then do not enter the zone. 

    Cameras on diverted routes due to roadworks will be suspended. If you paid a charge due to a diversion, this can be refunded with Bristol Council, and if you received a fine due to roadworks causing you to divert your journey via the CAZ, you can appeal the fine. 

    Are there grants for getting a compliant vehicle for the Bristol CAZ?

    Yes. Even though the Bristol CAZ has been in effect since last year (2022), there is still financial support available. 

    The Bristol Council negotiated £42m with the government to allocate as follows: £1.8m in grants and loans for residents who need to change their vehicle; £32m for businesses to upgrade their non-compliant vehicles; and £5.9m to go towards boosting public transport uptake and supporting efforts to increase cycling through training and free e-bike loans. 

    Funding support for individuals and businesses is as follows:

    VehicleFinancial support to retrofit or upgrade
    Private hire vehicle£1,500
    Taxi (hackney carriage)£4,000
    Van or Light Goods Vehicle (LGV)£4,500
    Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV)£16,000
    Grants available for residents and businesses affected by the Bristol CAZ

    The funding can be used to retrofit non-compliant vehicles, or to trade them in and buy a compliant, second-hand vehicle with a partnering dealership. In all cases, the non-compliant vehicles must have been purchased before 5th November 2021. The city is not granting any retrospective grants for people who already upgraded their vehicles to a compliant alternative.

    Individuals are prioritised if they work in the Bristol CAZ and earn less than £27,000. Blue Badge holders and primary carers are also treated with high priority in their funding applications. 

    Self-employed people and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) get prioritised for business grants. At least two of the following three conditions must be met, to ensure eligibility: annual turnover is under £36 million, the balance sheet is under £18 million, and the number of full-time employees is under 250. Depending on uptake, business funding could be expanded.

    All adults can sign up for free active travel support, which is funding widely available for cycling training and bike trials, eScooter credits, bus tickets, and more.

    For further information on funding and active travel support, see the Bristol council website.

    Does the Bristol CAZ have exemptions or exceptions?

    Yes, like all CAZ in the UK, the Bristol Clean Air Zone has some exceptions to the daily charge. There are some exempt vehicle categories that are fixed by the government as part of any CAZ in the UK:

    Nationally-exempt vehicles
    Disabled tax class or disabled passenger tax class
    Some agricultural vehicles
    Registered historic vehicles
    Military vehicles
    Ultra-low emission vehicles
    Vehicles retrofitted under the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS)
    Vehicles that are exempt nationally from CAZ charges. Information from

    Local councils also have the authority to set up local exemptions. In the Bristol CAZ, local exemptions also include the following:

    Locally-exempt vehiclesExemption
    Private passenger car, van or LGV not registered with a businessTemporary exemption until 1st April 2023
    Private passenger vehicle for hospital patient attending an appointment at the Bristol Royal Infirmary complexExemptions available upon application, subject to clinical needs of patient
    Private passenger vehicle for hospital visitorSeven-day exemptions available, issued at the discretion of Bristol Royal Infirmary staff
    Private passenger vehicle, for low income worker based in the CAZTemporary exemption until 31st March 2023
    Registered community transport vehiclesTemporary exemption until 31st March 2023
    Commercial vehicles with a finance agreement, for businesses operating within the CAZTemporary exemption until 31st March 2023
    Home to school transport (PSV and personal travel budget)Temporary exemption until 31st March 2023
    Tax Class 10 recovery vehiclesTemporary exemption until 31st March 2023
    Tax Class 4, 8, and 11 vehiclesExemptions valid for 12 months, with option to renew, subject to application
    Tax class 12 emergency vehiclesExemptions valid for 12 months, with option to renew, subject to application
    Vehicles that are exempt locally from Bristol’s CAZ charges

    How to check if my vehicle is compliant with Bristol CAZ?

    To check that your petrol van or minivan is compliant with Euro 4 emissions standards, or your diesel van or minivan is compliant with Euro 6, simply enter your reg in our ULEZ checker.

    London’s ULEZ and the Bristol CAZ have the same compliance criteria, so you can use our ULEZ Checker to make sure you can drive through Bristol without being subject to penalties.

    How to sell a non-compliant vehicle?

    If your vehicle is not compliant with Bristol’s CAZ, the good news is – you can still sell it, in order to invest instead in a compliant vehicle. To sell your non-compliant car quickly and easily, at Motorway we offer a simple – and completely free – method of getting the best price when selling, whatever the model.

    Selling your car with Motorway is quick, easy, and 100% free.

    Sell with Motorway and our network of 5,000+ verified car dealers compete to give you their best price.

    Just enter your reg on the homepage and you will be provided with an instant estimated sale price based on up-to-the-minute market data. We’ll then ask you a few easy questions about your car and guide you through the photos you need to take to complete your vehicle profile. It can be done right from your phone – in a matter of minutes.

    Get your car seen by over 5,000 nationwide dealers when you sell through Motorway.

    If you choose to enter your car into a daily sale, it will be shown to our nationwide network of more than 5,000 verified dealers looking to add to their stock of used cars. Interested dealers will then compete to buy your car, offering you their best price.

    In as little as 24 hours you will receive your best offer – and, if you choose to go ahead with the sale, your car will be collected for free by the dealer and the money will be quickly and securely transferred to your bank account.

    Selling your car?

    Read about everything you need to know about how to sell your car with more guides here. There’s a lot to learn as Clean Air Zones and emissions standards in the UK change in the run up to 2035.