ULEZ charge: how to pay a ULEZ fine and cut it in half

    ULEZ sign in London

    It’s crucial to know whether you drive a vehicle that is liable for paying the ULEZ charge. If you fail to register a vehicle that has a 100% charge discount, or to pay the charge before midnight on the third day after your travel within the ULEZ, you risk receiving a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), worth £180. The good news is, there is a way to halve the penalty to £90.

    Read our guide to find out what you need to do to avoid any surprise PCN post turning up on your doorstep, and how to minimise it if you do.

    Which vehicles have to pay to drive in London’s ULEZ?

    You have probably heard about compliant and non-compliant vehicles – but what exactly does that mean? 

    To be compliant with ULEZ and other Clean Air Zones around the UK, cars need engines that are up to certain grades, to ensure their pollution levels are within regulated limits. For petrol vehicles, including petrol-hybrid, engines must achieve at least Euro 4 grade. For diesel (again, including hybrid), the level is Euro 6

    Any vehicles with engines that are not up to these standards will have to pay to enter the ULEZ on a daily basis. For more info on vehicles to avoid if you regularly drive in the ULEZ, read our ultimate guide.

    You can find out your engine’s Euro framework in your V5C logbook, or by using our free ULEZ checker. Just enter your reg to find out whether your vehicle is compliant. It will save you risking a PCN which, if unnoticed, can compound into a huge fine.

    How do I avoid a fine for my international-reg vehicle?

    You may have seen in the press that many international drivers are receiving huge ULEZ fines when they visit London, even if their vehicles are compliant or were pre-registered with TfL. This is down to several tricky factors.

    If your car has an international registration, or you think there’s a reason it may show up as non-compliant even though it is compliant, you need to register with TfL. They will ask you to prove compliance through several documents:

    • A copy of your V5C logbook or international equivalent. Your address here  must be up to date as the keeper, as that’s where any charges or penalties will be sent in the post.
    • You also need a Certificate of Conformity or other paperwork from your manufacturer proving compliance with ULEZ regulations. 

    A key detail to remember is, if you drive an imported or international car, you need to register with both TfL and EPC plc. It is not sufficient to only register with TfL. Again, make sure that the address you use is one where you are sure to get your post promptly. 

    If you receive a PCN (issued by post), you must take action within 28 days in order to avoid the fine increasing by 50% to a total of £270. For more information on charges, read on.

    How much is the ULEZ charge, and how much are the penalties?

    The daily ULEZ charge for non-compliant vehicles is £12.50. This is not changing in 2023, even though the physical spread of the ULEZ expanded in August to cover the whole of Greater London. 

    This applies to motorcycles and mopeds, cars, vans, and minivans. Buses, lorries, and other large vehicles are not subject to ULEZ because they pay a higher charge based on the London LEZ and Congestion Zone. 

    If you don’t pay your ULEZ charge within three days of your journey, you’ll get a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

    Failure to pay the daily charge lands you with an enormous Penalty Charge Notice, though. Cars, vans, motorcycles, mopeds, caravans, and minibuses can all be landed with a £180 penalty, payable if they have not paid their ULEZ charge correctly or on time. 

    Note that there is a heightened risk of receiving a PCN if you pre-pay your ULEZ charge by post fewer than 10 days before travel. This may not allow enough time for administrators to process your payment.

    When you pay your PCN within 14 days, the charge level reduces to £90. If you fail to pay it within 28 days, however, it will increase by £90 and now cost you £270 to clear.

    Your PCN will be sent to the postal address of the registered keeper as shown in your V5C logbook. It’s key to make sure all of your paperwork is up to date, particularly if you drive a non-compliant vehicle. 

    How do you pay the ULEZ charge?

    There are many ways to pay your ULEZ charge, some more suited to ULEZ locals:

    • TfL has a free AutoPay system that covers ULEZ, LEZ, and Congestion charges. It’s free to use and will likely suit Londoners who would otherwise have to register plenty of days of travel. 
    • You can also pay online on a journey-by-journey basis, on TfL’s ULEZ payment portal.
    • TfL’s app provides options for AutoPay as well as penalty payments, and other services too – and all for free.
    • You can also pay by phone from 8am until 8pm Mondays to Fridays. The number (which is not free to call) is +44 343 222 2222.
    • It is possible, but discouraged, to pay by post. We do not recommend this option as it is less secure and less reliable than paying online.

    How do you pay a ULEZ penalty?

    You can pay your ULEZ penalty in the app or on the TfL website. You will need to quote the PCN number and confirm your reg.

    You have 28 days to either pay or challenge your PCN before it escalates and the charge increases to £270. It gets progressively harder to challenge your fine, the longer you wait. Some drivers get wrongly issued PCNs, or do not realise they have been issued one, before it’s too late. The best way to avoid this is to make sure your address registered with both TfL and in your V5C logbook is correct.

    Is ULEZ the same as the Congestion Charge?

    No. If you drive a non-compliant vehicle that does not benefit from any discounts, you will have to pay both the ULEZ and Congestion charges. 

    ULEZ charges apply all day, every day, whereas the Congestion Charge applies 7am–6pm Monday–Friday, 12pm–6pm Saturday-Sunday, and bank holidays.

    The good news is that, since both are managed by TfL, you can set up AutoPay for both to avoid forgetting, and then being hit with a PCN for either charge.

    The Congestion Zone charge covers a smaller area in London than the ULEZ, which expanded in August 2023 to cover the whole of Greater London.

    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.