Toxic air pollution is the biggest environmental risk in the UK currently. Especially in London, traffic emissions are the main source of the toxic air in the city. It causes lung and heart diseases and further deteriorates the condition of people with allergies and asthma.
To curb this and minimize the traffic emission in the city, the Mayor of London and Transport for London created Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) across the city. In ultra low emission zones, drivers would have to pay a ULEZ charge in order to drive.
If you are a PCO driver, we have put together a complete guide to the ULEZ charge and what it means for PCO drivers, how they are affected, how much they will have to pay, what happens if they fail to pay this charge, and whether their vehicle would be affected by this charge. Read on to find all your answers!
What Is the ULEZ Charge?
Introduced in 2019 in Central London, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge was announced to reduce the amount of toxic air in the city’s atmosphere and protect the health of the public. Instead of the vehicle’s age, the ULEZ charge is applied depending on the declared emission:
- Petrol: Euro 4
- Diesel: Euro 6
The daily ULEZ charge is £12.50, which can be paid up to 90 days in advance or by midnight on the third day after the journey. If the driver fails to pay the ULEZ charge by midnight on the third day after the journey in the zone, they will receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of £160.
If you pay the PCN within 14 days, you can get it reduced to £80. You can get a PCN from TfL in the following scenarios:
- If your vehicle does not comply with the ULEZ standards of emissions and you do not fall under the exempt list or are not eligible for a 100% discount.
- If your vehicle does not comply with the ULEZ standards of emissions and you have failed to pay the correct charge by midnight on the third day after the journey in the zone.
- Your vehicle is not registered with TfL.
- You paid the ULEZ charge for the wrong number plate or for the wrong day of travel.
- You paid the ULEZ charge by post in less than 10 days before your journey.
Since ULEZ charges apply from midnight to midnight, you can receive separate PCNs for every charging day you have travelled within the ULEZ. Both UK-registered and non-UK registered vehicles can be issued PCNs. You can check the amount withstanding or the current status of a PCN here.
The ULEZ charge does not apply to specific time zones. In fact, it is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The only exception is Christmas Day on 25th December, when people are not required to pay the ULEZ charge.
Where Are the Ultra Low Emission Zones?
The Ultra Low Emission Zones include all the areas that fall under the North and South Circular Roads. Previously, the South Circular (A205) and the North Circular (A406) roads were exempted from these zones. However, this ended in 2021 when the Ultra Low Emission Zones were extended across all of Greater London. As a result, more PCO drivers who fail to comply with the standards of minimum emissions set by TfL will be charged with a daily fee of £12.50 for entering these zones.
You can enter a specific address on the TfL website to check whether the address falls under the Ultra Low Emission Zones.
Unfortunately, yes. The ULEZ charge even applies to PCO cars. The only PCO cars that are exempted from this are those that are designated for special persons and patients/disabled people in a wheelchair. If you are a PCO driver who drives their vehicle in the zone during any time of the day or night, you will have to pay the ULEZ charge.
The only vehicles and groups of people that are fully exempt from the ULEZ charges or can get a discount on their daily ULEZ charge include:
- Fully electric vehicles, such as Kia e-Niro and Tesla Model 3
- Historic vehicles
- Wheelchair-accessible private hire vehicles (PHVs)
- Vehicles for disabled people
- Minibuses that are used for community transport
To check whether your vehicle meets the safety and emission standards required by TfL or to check if you will be required to pay the Congestion and ULEZ charges, go to this website.
The only way you can avoid paying the ULEZ charges, given that you do not fall under the exempt list, is if you switch to a fully electric vehicle. Fully electric PCO cars are completely exempt from both ULEZ and London’s Congestion Charge.
In fact, switching up to an electric vehicle is actually a wise decision as you get to benefit from:
- Lower fuel costs
- Zero emissions
- Incentives from operators
- Less wear and tear
- Smoother rides
- Wide EV charging network
How to Pay the ULEZ Charge?
As mentioned earlier, you can pay the ULEZ charge by midnight after the third day of your journey, or even 90 days in advance.
There are many ways you can pay the ULEZ charge. You can either set up Auto Pay for the ULEZ charge if you travel in the zones frequently, make a one-time payment online, or even pay by post. Many PCO car rentals add the ULEZ charges to your car’s weekly/monthly rent, so you don’t have to calculate it for every day you were driving in the zone.
Are you looking to switch to a fully electric vehicle to avoid the ULEZ or congestion charges? Find the best electric PCO cars in brand-new condition for rent at G&M Direct Hire.