ULEZ compliant cars – the ultimate guide

The Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is expanding. Is your car ULEZ complaint?

On the 29th of August 2023, the UK capital’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is set to expand London-wide. The planned expansion is set to see the zone encompassing the current LEZ boundary – which covers almost the entirety of the city. 

This means that if you drive a non-compliant vehicle within London, you will be subject to a daily charge of £12.50. The expanded ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 364 days a year (excluding Christmas Day).

Find out which petrol and diesel cars are exempt, how to check if your car is ULEZ-compliant – and, crucially, how to avoid the ULEZ charges. 

Is my car ULEZ compliant?

The aim of the ULEZ is to reduce pollution and improve air quality in London by introducing a charge for vehicles that don’t meet new exhaust emission standards.

Initially, the ULEZ area was the same as the current Congestion Charge Zone across central London. However, in October 2021, the boundaries of the ULEZ extended out from central London to create a larger zone up to the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205). Currently, the North and South Circular Roads themselves are not included in the zone and can be considered the edge of the ULEZ boundary. In 2023, the ULEZ is set to expand again – this time, to encompass the rest of the capital city. 

The standards of the ULEZ are currently as follows: 

ULEZ-compliant petrol cars: 

·      Must meet Euro 4, Euro 5 or Euro 6 emissions standards

·      Were generally registered after January 2006.

ULEZ-compliant diesel cars:

·      Must be Euro 6 compliant

·      Were generally registered after September 2015

ULEZ-compliant hybrid and electric cars:

·      With diesel engines: Must meet Euro 6 standards

·      With petrol engines: Must meet Euro 4 standards

ULEZ-compliant vans and motorbikes:

·      Diesel vans must be Euro 6 compliant

·      Petrol vans must be Euro 4 compliant

·      Motorbikes must be Euro 3 compliant

If you’re concerned that your car might not be ULEZ compliant, there is an easy way to check – using Motorway’s ULEZ checker tool

Simply enter your vehicle’s reg into the checker and it will instantly pull data from the DVLA to see if your car meets the current emissions standards that qualify it as low polluting. (Only high-polluting vehicles are targeted by the ULEZ.)

Are petrol cars ULEZ compliant?

Some petrol cars are compliant – and some are not. 

In order to be ULEZ compliant, petrol cars must meet Euro 4 emissions standards. 

Most petrol cars registered since January 2006 meet these standards.

Petrol cars that meet Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards are also exempt from paying charges. 

All petrol vehicles that have a historic vehicle tax class will be exempt from the ULEZ. This tax class excludes any vehicles used commercially.

Are petrol or diesel cars ULEZ compliant?
Are petrol or diesel cars ULEZ compliant?

Are diesel cars ULEZ compliant?

As with petrol cars, it depends on the type of diesel car you have. 

In order to be ULEZ compliant, diesel cars must meet Euro 6 standards. 

Most diesel cars registered since September 2015 meet these standards, though some earlier models do too. Indeed, there are some ULEZ-compliant diesel cars dating back to 2012. So, it is worth checking. 

As with petrol models, diesel cars that have a historic vehicle tax class will be exempt from the ULEZ. This tax class excludes any vehicle used commercially.

How can I make my car ULEZ compliant?

If your car is not ULEZ compliant, and you don’t want to pay the daily charges, you might consider retrofitting a non-compliant van or car to meet the requirements of the zone. 

This can be achieved by either upgrading the vehicle’s exhaust system or changing its engine. However, it is extremely pricey to have this work carried out – and, after the work is completed, you will also need to have the vehicle re-certified by the DVSA to ensure it is recognised as compliant.

In most cases, it would be considerably cheaper to trade up to a compliant car.

ulez compliant vehicles
It’s normally cheaper to trade or sell your vehicle and purchase a ULEZ compliant one rather than upgrading it.

What year cars are ULEZ compliant?      

Though this question is asked regularly online, a car’s registration year isn’t a deciding factor on whether it is compliant. 

To be ULEZ compliant, petrol cars must meet Euro 4 emissions standards. 

Most petrol cars registered after January 2006 meet these standards. Petrol cars that meet Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards are exempt from paying charges. 

To be ULEZ compliant, diesel cars must meet Euro 6 standards. Most diesel cars registered since September 2015 meet these standards, though some earlier models will also be compliant. 

The Euro standards are the European emissions rules brought in to reduce the amount of pollution generated by cars. Specifically, they target nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (THC and NMHC) and particulate matter (PM).

All non-commercial petrol and diesel vehicles that have a historic vehicle tax class – i.e. classic cars – are exempt from the ULEZ.

How do I prove my car is ULEZ compliant?

To prove your vehicle meets the ULEZ standards you will either have to apply for a letter from your vehicle manufacturer’s Homologation Department stating the vehicle’s Euro standard – or, apply for a Certificate of Conformity (CoC). 

A CoC is a paper document issued by the manufacturer of your vehicle. Its purpose is to ensure the free movement of goods between EU countries. It is a document that contains information about the vehicle and certifies that it has been manufactured in conformity with standards.

If you have received a ULEZ charge – and you think it has been sent to you in error – you can find out for sure if your vehicle is compliant by using Motorway’s ULEZ checker tool

Simply enter your vehicle’s reg into the checker and it will use data from the DVLA, to see if your car meets the current emissions standards.

How long will diesel cars be ULEZ compliant?

Like petrol vehicles, most newer diesel vehicles are ULEZ exempt.  

The majority of diesel cars registered after September 2015 meet Euro 6 standards – and therefore, also meet the current ULEZ emissions standards, though some earlier models do too. 

The Euro 6 standards were introduced in 1993 and are the European emissions standards brought in to reduce the amount of pollution generated by cars. Specifically, Euro 6 standards target nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (THC and NMHC) and particulate matter (PM).

London’s ULEZ first began operating in April 2019 and imposes a compulsory charge of £12.50 for the majority of pre-September 2015 diesel vehicles entering the city with a view to deterring their use and reducing air pollution. 

All non-commercial diesel vehicles that have a historic vehicle tax class – such as classic cars ­– are exempt from the ULEZ.

Sell your car with Motorway

Is your car ULEZ compliant? If you’re going to be driving around the capital, and as low emission zones expand to other cities around the uk, replacing your non-compliant car with a compliant one would be a smart decision. Selling your car with Motorway, whether compliant or not is quick, easy and you could get up to £1000* more.

Want to learn more about ULEZ and selling your vehicle?

Our guides have everything you need to know about ULEZ, low emissions and selling your vehicle.