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How much is the London Congestion Charge?

May 16, 2023 by

We have all the information you need about the London Congestion Charge

The London Congestion Charge covers a small area of central London (far smaller than the Ultra Low Emission Zone) and costs £15 if you pay in advance or on the same day as you drive into it, rising to £17.50 if you pay one to three days after you’ve travelled.

The Charge applies from 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 12-6pm at weekends and on bank holidays.

Enter your vehicle number plate or a London postcode to find out if you need to pay the Congestion Charge using our handy Congestion Charger checker tool.

There is more information about the Congestion Charge that’s worth knowing, though, which this article will detail.

London Congestion Charge: overview

The London Congestion Charge covers all areas inside the capital’s inner ring road. It’s actually a relatively small area, but it includes popular parts of town including the West End, Soho, Westminster and the Barbican.

The area covered by the Congestion Charge has remained largely unchanged since it was introduced (though a western expansion operated from 2007-11), but the cost of driving in the zone has risen significantly over time.

The Charge was introduced in 2003 when it cost just £5, and it was implemented to reduce vehicle congestion and emissions in central London. The charge rose to £8 in 2005, £10 in 2011, £11.50 in 2014, and £15 in June 2020 – the price at which it sits today.

Most vehicles have to pay the Congestion Charge, but some (we’ll detail them all below) are exempt, with electric cars being the most notable exemption – though EV drivers will have to pay from 25 December, 2025.

How do I pay the London Congestion Charge?

The easiest way to pay the Congestion Charge is using the Transport for London (TfL) online payment system. You will be required to enter your vehicle’s registration number and select which day you drove into the zone on. Do note some scam websites have been set up in the past to target drivers into paying fees like the Congestion and Ultra Low Emission Zone charges – be sure to check the website you’re using is the official TfL one, else you may find payment is taken from you but the fee isn’t paid, leaving you scammed out of the charge itself, and with a penalty for not paying to drive into the zones.

You can pay on the day you travel or for one or several days in advance up to a year before you travel, or you can pay three days retrospectively – though paying retrospectively sees the charge rise to £17.50.

As an example, if you are driving into the Congestion Charge Zone on Tuesday, it would cost £15 if you pay in advance or on Tuesday, or £17.50 if you pay on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

You can also pay by phone by calling TfL on 0343 222 2222, while if you regularly drive into the Congestion Charge zone of the ULEZ, you can set up an Auto Pay account with TfL. This costs £10 a year for each vehicle registered.

What is the penalty for not paying the Congestion Charge?

The Congestion Charge is indicated by a white ‘C’ on a red background

As outlined above, you can pay on the day or in advance to enter the Congestion Charge zone, and you can also pay up to three days after the fact – but once three days have passed since you drove into it during the hours of operation, you will be issued with a penalty charge notice.

This comprises a fine of £160, which drops to £80 if paid within 14 days.

Don’t forget that all areas of the Congestion Charge Zone are covered by the the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) – meaning if your car is not ULEZ compliant you will need to pay the ULEZ charge as well – though both payments can be made at the same time using TfL’s payment tool.

Are there any exemptions for paying the Congestion Charge?

Electric cars (plus hydrogen-powered vehicles) don’t have to pay the Congestion Charge, though this exemption will end on Christmas Day 2025, just as the exemption for plug-in hybrid cars was removed in 2021, and the exemption for hybrids was removed in 2019.

Residents living in the Congestion Charge zone get a 90% discount, while drivers with disabilities who hold a Blue Badge permit are totally exempt.

Vehicles built before 1973, or with a historic road tax class, are automatically exempt from the Congestion Charge, though you may need to apply for an exemption from the ULEZ fee.  Specialist vehicles such as military ones, plus mowing machines, agricultural and farm machinery, mobile cranes and such are also exempted from the Congestion Charge.

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