London congestion charge

When the scheme operates, who it affects and how you pay

Transport for London (TfL) impose a charge per weekday on most vehicles

Transport for London (TfL) impose a charge per weekday on most vehicles

Transport for London (TfL) impose a charge per weekday on most vehicles, being used in Central London.

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

How does it work?

If your journey takes you into the charging zone you can either pay in advance, pay before midnight that day, or, for a small surcharge, pay before midnight the following charging day.

2014 consultation

TfL is consulting (6 January to 14 March 2014) on proposed changes to the congestion charge scheme.

Proposed changes include:

  • Introducing direct debit payment for CC Auto Pay customers
  • Increasing the daily fee to £11.50 if paid in advance (or on the day); £10.50 if paid using CC Auto Pay or £14 if paid the next charging day.
  • Providing the option for customers to amend the date of a pre-paid charge on the day of travel

There are more than 220,000 registered CC Auto Pay accounts - a payment system which automatically records the number of days a vehicle travels within the charging zone each month and bills the account holder’s payment card.

For more details on the consultation or to have your say, visit the TfL website

Important changes to the scheme announced on 23 April 2013 »

A network of cameras reads vehicle numberplates as you enter, drive around and leave the zone.

Once the car number plate has been matched against the database of those who have paid the charge or who do not have to pay as their vehicle is exempt or registered for a 100% discount, the photographic images of the vehicle are automatically wiped off the database.

Any vehicle recorded as having been in the zone during charging hours but where no daily charge has been paid by midnight the following charging day must pay a penalty charge.

Zone entry sign

Zone entry sign

Scheme started: 17 February 2003

Zone operates: 7am to 6:00pm weekdays excluding bank and public holidays

Pay by phone: 0343 222 2222

Pay online: www.cclondon.com

Area covered: map on TfL website

What does it cost?

The daily charge is £10 if you pay in advance or on the day,  but increases to £12 if payment is made by midnight on the following charging day.

You can reduce the daily charge to £9 by registering with Congestion Charging Auto Pay - up to five vehicles can be registered.

Fleets with six or more vehicles can save by applying for Congestion Charging Fleet Auto Pay.

Latest changes

Following a three month consultation which closed on 8 February 2013, the Mayor of London confirmed the following changes to the Congestion Charge scheme.

Ultra Low Emission Discount

A new Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) replaces the Greener Vehicle and Electric Vehicle discounts.

The ULED was introduced on 1 July 2013 and provides a single 100 per cent discount for electric vehicles and ultra low emission cars and vans.  Qualifying vehicles will have to be pure electric vehicles, or cars/vans emitting 75g/km or less of CO2 and meeting the Euro 5 emission standard.

Vehicles registered for the Electric Vehicle Discount were automatically transferred to the new ULED on 1 July 2013. 

Vehicles previously registered for the Greener Vehicle Discount will not meet the criteria for the new ULED but will continue to receive a full discount for a ‘sunset period’ of three years, ending on 24 June 2016.

Penalty Charge

The penalty charge increased from £120 to £130 on 20 May 2013, bringing it in line with other moving traffic, bus lane and parking penalty charges within London.

Payment Options

The option to pay the Congestion Charge in shops was withdrawn on 26 July 2013.

Ways to pay

  • Online - up to 90 days in advance, on the day or by midnight the next day
  • SMS - register an account online first
  • Auto Pay - register a credit or debit card for automated payment and save every day
  • Phone - 0343 222 2222, in advance, on the day or up to midnight the next day
  • Shops and petrol stations - where you see the Congestion Charging or epay logo
  • Post - in advance, at least 10 days before travel

Note: you can pay on the following charging day by telephone and online only

advance information sign

advance information sign

Who pays?

Those responsible for cars, vans and lorries using the zone.

There are some exemptions and discounts for example, disabled people who have a blue badge and motorcycles.

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

Discounts for greener vehicles

Cars that emit 75g/km or less CO2 and that meet the Euro 5 exhaust emissions standard will qualify for the 100 per cent Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) introduced on 1 July 2013.

Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) will qualify alongside pure electric vehicles for the Ultra Low Emission Discount.

Vehicles must be registered and an annual fee is payable.

Have the cameras recorded your 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/fine through the post.

What if you get a penalty?

If you don't pay the Congestion Charge within the time limit (before midnight the following charging day) you will receive a penalty charge notice of £130, reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days.

Congestion charging penalties are civil matters and are in effect debts. If you consider yourself not guilty or 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 is not accepted you can appeal to an independent adjudicator.

(5 January 2014)

 

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