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Everything you need to know about the London Congestion Charge

Considering driving in the capital? Here’s our quick guide to everything you need to know about the London Congestion Charge

Written by Verity Hogan
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What is the London Congestion Charge?

Designed to reduce the amount of traffic and pollution in the capital, the London Congestion Charge is a daily fee charged to most cars and other vehicles when driven in the city’s Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ).

Where is the Congestion Charge zone?

The congestion zone covers most of central London. In the east, it’s bordered by Tower Bridge Road, Vauxhall Bridge Road to the south, Park Lane to the west, and Pentonville Road to the north.

Why was it introduced?

First introduced in 2003, the TFL congestion charge was designed to reduce congestion and cut pollution in central London, as well as raise funds to invest in the city’s transport infrastructure.

The charge was controversial at first, but it’s certainly made an impact: the number of vehicles entering the zone every day decreased by around 30% between 2003 and 2018.

How much does the Congestion Charge cost?

Driving in the Congestion Charge zone between 7am and 10pm costs £15 per day, every day except Christmas Day. It doesn’t matter how many times you travel in and out of the congestion zone on the same day, you only need to pay the charge once.

Paying the Congestion Charge

There are three ways that you can pay the Congestion Charge:

  1. Pay in advance
  2. Pay on the day you travel
  3. Pay no later than midnight on the third charging day after you travel

If you pay in advance or on the day you travel, the cost will be £15, but if you wait to pay via the third option, the charge rises to £17.50.

Automatic payments

Auto pay is probably the most convenient way to pay the charge. This automated payment system will record each charging day and take the fee from your debit/credit card each month.

What is the revenue spent on?

Any revenue from congestion charge is spent on local transport projects, such as increasing rail capacity, freezing public transport fares, and improving areas to make them more pedestrian and cycle friendly.  

Who is exempt from the Congestion Charge?

Not every driver has to pay the full congestion charge:

  • People who travel on a motorcycle, bicycle, or drive a vehicle with nine or more seats (licensed with the DVLA as a bus) are automatically exempt from the charge
  • Blue Badge Holders can register for a 100% discount, while residents of the charging zone are eligible for a 90% discount
  • Organisations operating six or more vehicles can register for the Congestion Charging Fleet Scheme to benefit from a reduced daily charge of £10.50 per vehicle

Who is eligible for reimbursements? 

Soon after the pandemic struck in early 2020, the Mayor of London introduced a reimbursement scheme for NHS staff and patients, as well as local authorities, care homes, and charities. Those eligible must pay the daily fee as normal and then make a claim for reimbursement.

What if you drive a cleaner vehicle?

If you’ve already gone green and drive a vehicle that meets Euro 6 standards, emits a maximum of 75g/km of CO2 and has a minimum 20-mile zero emission capable range, you’ll be eligible for a 100% cleaner vehicle discount.

This is set to change soon though. From 25th October 2021, the discount will only apply to battery electric or hydrogen fuel vehicles. And from December 2025, all vehicle owners will need to pay the charge so keep this in mind if you’re planning to buy a car and drive within the zone in the next few years.

If your vehicle is eligible for a discount, you’ll need to pay £10 to register it on the cleaner vehicle scheme. This fee needs to be repaid annually. 

Our top tips 

Don't use an unofficial website to pay

  • Transport for London say you should only pay the Congestion Charge via their secure online system

Consider downloading the 'pay to drive in London' app

  • This free, official app lets you to pay the Congestion Charge as well as the Low Emissions Zone and ULEZ charges
  • This app can also be used to set up Auto Pay, check if your destination is in a charging zone, and pay a penalty

Verity Hogan

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