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What is the Congestion Charge?

  • What is the Congestion Charge? 
  • Do I need to pay it?
  • Parkers explains the ins and outs

The London Congestion Charge is a daily fee of £11.50 for driving a vehicle within the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) during the hours of 7am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Introduced in 2003, the charge is based on vehicle emissions, with some low CO2 and hybrid vehicles being exempt. Automatic number plate recognition cameras stationed throughout the congestion charge zone capture all vehicles travelling within the charge zone.

Where is the London Congestion Charge zone?

The charge zone covers the very centre of London. To check if your journey goes into the charge zone, use this postcode checker.

The congestion charge is only required from 7am to 6am, Monday to Friday. There is no charge on weekends, public holidays, or between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Do I have to pay the Congestion Charge?

All vehicles that enter the London Congestion Charge zone in the prescribed time period are eligible for the levy.

Exemptions include: two wheeled motorbikes or mopeds, emergency service vehicles, taxis and vehicles with a disabled taxation class. As long as your vehicle is registered correctly with the DVLA, then no action is needed when entering the congestion charge zone.

There are discounts (up to 100%) available for: residents, breakdown/recovery vehicles, blue badge holders, vehicles with more than nine seats, motor-tricycles and also ultra-low emission vehicles. These discounts must be applied for on the Transport for London website prior to entering the congestion charge zone.

To qualify for ultra-low emissions discount, vehicles must not exceed 3.5 tonnes, emit 75g/km or less of CO2 and meet the Euro 5 standard for air quality.

For more details on discounts and exemptions which might be applicable to you or our vehicle, visit the Transport for London website.

How do I pay the Congestion Charge, and what will happen if I don’t?

Payment for any congestion charge must be paid via an official Transport for London service, such as their website. Be aware of unofficial sites, as charges might be higher and might not be paid correctly.

A payment of £11.50 can be made up to 90 days in advance, or on the day of travel. Charge payments made the following day cause an increase to £14. Failure to pay before midnight the following day will cause a penalty charge notice of £130 to come through your door.

For those travelling into the zone often, or for the forgetful, setting up Auto Pay not only brings the charge down to £10.50 per day, but also removes the risk of a penalty charge notice.

Auto Pay works via direct debit, and allows Transport for London to record the number of charging days a vehicle travels within the charging zone and take full payment at the end of each month.

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Looking for more jargon-busting motoring meanings? Head over to our Parkers Car Glossary page and take a look at our other definitions