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What is a clean air zone?

What is a ULEZ-compliant car?

What is London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone, which cars does it affect and which cars are ULEZ-compliant? Our guide explains everything you need to know.

Graham King Cazoo

By Graham King

Updated: 29 August 2023

What does ULEZ-compliant mean?

A ULEZ-compliant car is one that meets the requirements to drive into London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone without being charged a fee. The standards apply to every type of vehicle including cars, vans, lorries, coaches and motorbikes. However, the standards differ for petrol and diesel engines and we’ll cover them in more detail below.

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What is ULEZ?

Central London is covered by an ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ), which the more-polluting cars are charged a daily fee to enter. The zone is designed to improve air quality by encouraging people to switch to lower-emission cars or to use public transport, walk or cycle when travelling in London.

The zone covers a large area bordered by the North and South Circular roads, but it expanded to the boundary of the M25 motorway on 29 August 2023 – more on that below.

What is a low-emissions or clean air zone?

Other cities around the UK including Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth have also implemented similar ‘clean air’ zones and many more have signalled that they intend to in the coming years. You can read more about clean air zones here.

If you live in one of these zones, or are likely to drive into one, you need to find out if your car complies with the rules and is exempt from the charges. Driving a non-compliant car in a ULEZ could get pricey – in London the charge is £12.50 per day, on top of the Congestion Charge that’s applied if you drive into inner London which, in mid-2023, was £15 per day. All this means that driving a ULEZ-compliant car could save you a lot of money.

ULEZ expansion 2023

The ULEZ boundary expanded on 29 August 2023, and now covers all of Greater London. A scrappage scheme has been introduced to encourage people to replace their older, more polluting cars.

You can read more about this in our guide to the 2023 ULEZ expansion.

What is the ULEZ expansion scrappage scheme?

The ULEZ expansion scrappage scheme is a £160m project designed to help car owners and businesses that will be affected by the changes. Those eligible are able to claim grants towards the cost of replacing their current vehicles with ULEZ-compliant models.

You can read our detailed guide to the ULEZ scrappage scheme here.

Is my car ULEZ-compliant?

To be ULEZ-compliant, your car must emit a sufficiently low level of exhaust pollutants. You can find out whether it meets the required standards by using the checker tool on the Transport for London website.

The requirements for ULEZ-compliance are based on European emissions standards, which set limits on the amount of various chemicals emitted from a car’s exhaust pipe. Those chemicals include nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (or soot), which can cause serious respiratory problems like asthma.

‘Euro’ standards were first introduced in 1970 and have grown progressively stricter. Euro 6 standards are now in force with Euro 7 to be introduced in 2025. You can find your car’s Euro emissions standard on its V5C registration document.

Electric cars and cars that are more than 40 years old are exempt from ULEZ charges.

Which diesel cars are ULEZ-compliant?

To meet ULEZ regulations and avoid a charge when entering the zone, diesel cars must comply with Euro 6 emissions standards. As a general guide, cars registered after September 2015 fit into this category, but some that were registered earlier will also be compliant.

Which petrol cars are ULEZ-compliant?

If you’re after a ULEZ-compliant petrol car, it must meet at least Euro 4 standards. The good news is that this covers just about every car sold new in the UK from January 2006, as well as a few from as early as 2001.

Are hybrid cars ULEZ-compliant?

Full-hybrid cars such as the Toyota C-HR hybrid and plug-in hybrids like the Mitsubishi Outlander have a petrol or a diesel engine, which means they’re subject to the same requirements as other petrol and diesel cars. Petrol hybrids must meet at least Euro 4 standards and diesel hybrids must meet Euro 6 standards to be ULEZ-compliant.

Mitsubishi Outlander

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