Vehicle emissions are taken very seriously in Europe and the UK. London, especially, is making serious attempts at cleaning up the environment. The London Congestion Charge is an example of the city administration’s attempts to turn the screw on air pollution. So what is Congestion Charge, and what are the new rules? Let’s find out in this detailed guide about the London Congestion Charge.
What Is the Congestion Charge?
The London Congestion Charge is a daily fee imposed since February 17, 2003, that motorists have to pay to enter into the Congestion Charge zone in London during the weekdays and weekends. Enforced by Transport for London (TfL), it is a scheme designed to create clean air zones in the hotspots of London. The failure to pay this fee would result in you getting fined £160. However, if you pay within 14 days, it will get reduced to £80.
Read on to learn more about the London Congestion Charge, where it applies, what the new rules are, and which vehicles are included and exempted from this charge.
What Are the New Congestion Charge Rules?
Today, the Congestion Charge in London stands at £15 per day for motorists and drivers who want to enter central London, where the Congestion Charge zone starts from. As you can guess from its name, the point of this scheme is to reduce the traffic congestion in central London. This fee is imposed between 7 am and 10 pm during the weekdays, weekends, and bank holidays.
Initially, the Congestion Charge used to be £11.50 and was only applied on weekdays. However, due to increased congestion in the city, the government and the Transport for London (TfL) body agreed in June 2020 to raise the fee to £15 and enforce it all over the week, including the weekends.
However, the government and TfL have decided to reduce these hours to 11 hours on weekdays and 6 hours on weekends. So starting February 21, 2022, the Congestion Charge in London will only be applicable between 7 am to 6 pm during the weekdays and 12 pm to 6 pm on the weekends.
This fee must be paid in advance or by midnight on the same day you enter the zone. However, if you fail to pay this fee on time, you will have to pay £17.50 by midnight on the third day after entering the Congestion Charge Zone (more on that later).
The residents of the Congestion Charge Zone used to have to pay only 10% of this £15 fee. This rule was previously scrapped. However, starting February 21, 2022, this rule will be reinstated, and the residents will again be able to avail the residents’ discounts. This change is to create a balance between supporting London’s residents and economy and reducing the traffic congestion on the road.
The London Congestion Charge Zone
So which areas of London fall under the London Congestion Charge zone? Well, the zone applies to all the areas lying within the London Inner Ring Road, including the West End and the City of London. The number of residents living in this zone amounts to 136,000, out of London’s total population of approximately 8.9 million people.
You can view a detailed map of the areas falling under the Congestion Charge zone on the TfL website and even enter your desired postcodes to see if that area falls within the Congestion Charge zone.
How to Pay the Congestion Charge?
If you are someone whose daily route falls within central London during the hours when the Congestion Charge is applied, you can create an Auto Pay account to pay the fee daily. Creating an account would cost you an annual registration fee of £10. However, you will get a £1 discount every day on the Congestion Charge. Sounds like a pretty fair deal, right?
Alternatively, you can also pay the fee on the TfL app, the TfL website, or even over the phone by calling 0343 222 2222.
Who Can Receive Reimbursements for the Congestion Charge?
There are certain people who can get reimbursements for the Congestion Charge. Some vehicles are also exempted from the Congestion Charge fee. These include:
- NHS patients who are exposed to Coronavirus.
- Local authority workers.
- Charity workers are offering certain pandemic support services within the Congestion Charge zone.
- Blue Badge holders.
- Roadside recovery vehicles.
- Accredited breakdown vehicles.
- Motor tricycles that are less than two metres in length and one metre in width.
- Vehicles that have nine seats or more.
Moreover, starting February 21, 2022, the residents of the Congestion Charge zone will also get a 90% discount on the Congestion Charge fee. So they will only need to pay 10% (£1.5) of the fee.
Which Vehicles Does the Congestion Charge Apply to?
If you are wondering who and what vehicles does the Congestion Charge applies to, here’s an explanation. The Congestion Charge applies to all the combustion-engine cars that enter into the Congestion Charge zone during the hours when the fee is applicable. These also include all the hybrid cars.
Initially, all the vehicles that ran on alternative fuels were exempted from the Congestion Charge. However, in December 2018, these exemptions were decided to be phased out. Starting October 25., 2021, only EVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that have zero-emission are exempted from the Congestion Charge. However, these motorists will also have to pay the Congestion Charge starting December 2025.
If you live in London or commute to central London, it’s best that you get a zero-emission vehicle to save yourself from paying the Congestion Chargefee every day. Visit G&M Direct Hire to get a PCO car for rent. You can determine whether a vehicle has an outstanding Congestion Charge fine by emailing TfL.