London Congestion Charge

What you need to know about the Congestion Charge zone

Including how much it costs and how to pay

If you drive in central London, you might have to pay the Congestion Charge.

Transport for London (TfL) runs it and it was introduced in 2003, but the rules on how much to pay and who it applies to have changed since then.

It's designed to reduce the amount of traffic and lower emissions.

In this article, we explain how much the Congestion Charge is and how to pay it.

In this article

Congestion charging

What is the London Congestion Charge?

The Congestion Charge is a fee you have to pay if you drive within the Congestion Charge zone in London.

You pay the charge for the day, and can drive within the charging zone as often as you want within that day.

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How much is the Congestion Charge?

The Congestion Charge is currently £15 a day if you pay in advance or on the day of travel.

If you pay the fee 1 to 3 days after you drive in the zone, you'll be charged an increased amount of 17.50.

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How does the Congestion Charge work?

The Congestion Charge is based on number plate recognition:

  • Cameras read your vehicle number plate as you enter, drive around and leave the zone.
  • Once your number plate has been matched to the database, a check will run to see if you’ve paid.
  • If you’ve paid, or don’t have to pay, the images of your vehicle are automatically wiped from the database.

If a number plate isn’t matched to a payment within the time limit (up to 3 days after you’ve driven in the zone), a penalty charge must be paid

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What time does the Congestion Charge apply?

London’s Congestion Charge currently applies from 7am to 10pm every day, so if you drive in the zone during that time you'll need to pay it.

From 21 February 2022, the operational hours will be reduced, with the Congestion Charge applying from 7am to 6pm on weekdays and 12pm to 6pm on weekends.


Do you have to pay Congestion Charge on a Saturday or Sunday?

Yes, you currently have to pay the London Congestion Charge on a Saturday or Sunday.

Do you have to pay Congestion Charge on a bank holiday?

At the moment, the only days that the Congestion Charge doesn’t apply are Christmas Day and the period up to and including the New Year's Day Bank Holiday.

This means the Congestion charge applies on other bank holidays in England and Wales, such as Good Friday and Easter Monday.  

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Where is the London Congestion Charge zone?

The zone covers many popular areas of Central London, like Westminster, Holborn, Farringdon, Marylebone and the City.

Can I check if I entered the Congestion Charge zone?

You can check the Congestion Charge zone on the TFL website to find out exactly which areas of London are included in the zone and whether you've driven in them, in which case you’ll need to pay.

How do I know if the cameras recorded my plate?

If you've driven into the Congestion Charging zone there's no way to find out if your vehicle's number plate was recorded or not, other than wait to see if you get a letter or fine through the post.

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How do I pay the Congestion Charge?

You can choose how to pay the charge from these options:

  • Auto pay - set up automatic payments with a £10 annual registration fee.
  • Pay online.
  • Pay by phone on 0343 222 2222.
When do I pay the Congestion Charge?

You can pay for the £15 daily charge in advance or on the day of travel.

You've then got up to 3 days to pay the charge after you have driven in the zone, for an increased charge of £17.50. 

What happens if I don’t pay the Congestion Charge?

If you don't pay the Congestion Charge within the time limit (up to 3 days after you’ve driven in the zone) you’ll receive a penalty charge notice of £160, reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.

Congestion charging penalties are civil matters and essentially debts. If you consider yourself not guilty or think that a mistake has been made:

  • Write immediately to the address given on your penalty, quoting the penalty charge number.
  • Explain in detail why you shouldn't pay.
  • If your explanation isn't accepted, you can appeal to an independent adjudicator.

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Is my car exempt from the Congestion Charge?

There are some Congestion Charge exemptions and discounts available. For example, Blue Badge holders and vehicles with 9 seats or more don’t have to pay Congestion Charge.

Those whose car qualifies for the cleaner vehicle discount also don’t have to pay.

Some of those eligible for discounts and exemptions must pre-register even though they pay nothing.

You can find out the full details of Congestion Charge discounts and exemptions on the TfL website.

Are electric or hybrid cars exempt from the London Congestion Charge?

As of 25 October 2021, only battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are eligible for the cleaner vehicle 100% discount. 

Find out more:

Whether you drive a petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric, we've got you covered.

Is there a Congestion Charge discount for residents?

 If you live within the Congestion Charge residents' discount zone, you may qualify for a 90% discount. You’ll need to provide evidence of your address and vehicle. 

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What about the emission zone charges?

If you drive in London you may need to pay the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and/or the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) charges as well as the Congestion Charge.

This will depend on the emissions of your vehicle, which TfL works out from your number plate.

You can pay both charges at the same time.

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Published: 12 September 2016 | Updated: 1 February 2022 | Author: The AA

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