Oxford zero emission zone (ZEZ) explained

March 08, 2024 by

On 28 February 2022, Oxford introduced its first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) for a limited area in the city centre. There are plans to widen the initial ZEZ to a much wider area, but no date has been confirmed yet. Here’s everything we know so far about the Oxford ZEZ.

Like several other cities across the UK, Oxford introduced its ZEZ to improve air quality by reducing polluting traffic and emissions. This is also to encourage the transition to low and zero emissions vehicles, or for people to use public transport instead.

Only fully electric cars, vans and motorbikes, or those with an exemption or 100 percent discount, can enter the Oxford ZEZ without paying a charge.

Oxford ZEZ map

The Oxford ZEZ and the larger proposed ZEZ (in green)

The current Oxford ZEZ includes the following streets:

  • Bonn Square
  • Cornmarket Street
  • Market Street (40m stretch east from junction with Cornmarket)
  • New Inn Hall Street
  • New Road (between Bonn Square and its junction with Castle Street)
  • Ship Street
  • Shoe Lane
  • St Michael’s Street
  • Queen Street

The Oxford Zero Emissions Zone is enforced using automatic number plate recognition cameras, and Oxfordshire County Council has installed traffic signs featuring a green circle with ZEZ in white letters to identify which streets are within it.

To view a map of the city centre’s Zero Emission Zone, click here: Zero_Emission_Zone_Plan

Are there any exemptions from the Oxford ZEZ?

Yes, exemptions are available for particular special vehicles (listed below), but must be applied for at least 10 days in advance to ensure this is processed before the day of travel.

Exemptions from the Oxford ZEZ daily charge are available for the following vehicles:

  • Hearses
  • Historic vehicles
  • Military vehicles
  • Hackney carriages licensed by Oxford City Council
  • Registered local buses
  • Emergency services vehicles
  • Agricultural and similar vehicles, including: tractors, mowing machines, steam-powered vehicles, snowploughs and road gritters
  • Other work-related vehicles, such as: mobile cranes, pumping vehicles, digging machines, road rollers and works trucks (such as forklift trucks)

Applying for an exemption should be done online (if that’s not possible, by calling 0345 310 1111 – option 3).

Are there any discounts for the Oxford ZEZ?

Yes, there are discounts for the Oxford ZEZ daily charge available for certain vehicles or drivers: please see the list below; however, note that the discount must be applied for at least 10 days in advance to ensure it is processed before the day of travel:

  • Blue badge holders
  • Disabled tax vehicles
  • Selected low emission hybrid private hire and Hackney carriage vehicles
  • Residents in the Zero Emission Zone
  • Health or care workers
  • Community transport vehicles
  • Businesses in the Zero Emission Zone
  • Students in financial hardship moving in or out of the Zero Emission Zone

Applying for a discount should be done online (if that’s not possible, by calling 0345 310 1111 – option 3).

Oxford ZEZ charges

Automatic number plate recognition cameras will check every vehicle that enters the Oxford ZEZ, so unless your vehicle is a zero emission vehicle, or exempt, or qualifies for a 100 percent discount, you will have to pay the daily charge.

Zero emissions vehicles are not required to pay a daily charge, so fully electric cars, vans and motorbikes do not need to apply for a discount or exemption to enter the Oxford ZEZ.

All other petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles that are not eligible for an exemption or discount must pay a daily charge to enter the Oxford ZEZ between 7am and 7pm. This applies every day of the year.

The daily charge ranges from:

  • £2 per day for a vehicle with ultra-low emissions (less than 75 g/km CO2)
  • £4 per day for a low emission vehicle (Euro 4 petrol or Euro 6 diesel) with four or more wheels
  • £10 per day for all other vehicles.

Note that these daily charges are due to double in August 2025.

How to pay the Oxford ZEZ

The daily charge can be paid on the day the vehicle enters the ZEZ or up to six days before or after. If paying in advance, you should be 100 percent certain that you are going to go ahead with your plans to drive into the ZEZ as Oxfordshire County Council will not issue a refund.

Once the daily charge is paid, the vehicle can enter the Oxford ZEZ multiple times on that day only.

If a vehicle is parked in the Oxford ZEZ and does not move, no daily charge is applicable.

Payment for the daily charge can be made online after entering the vehicle’s number plate details here.

What if I don’t pay the Oxford ZEZ charge?

If you do not pay the Oxford ZEZ charge, you will automatically receive a £60 penalty charge notice (PCN). There are no warnings or reminders to pay the daily charge before the PCN is issued.

Details of how to pay the fine are detailed on the PCN and below. You will need the PCN number, the registration number of the vehicle. There are three ways to pay the fine:

  • By phone: call 0345 337 1138 (option 1)
  • By post: Send a cheque or postal order payable to Oxfordshire County Council, with the PCN number written on the back and the slip on the PCN to the address given on the PCN. Do not send cash.
  • Online: click here

There is a 50 per cent discount on the fine (from £60 to £30) if the PCN is paid within 14 days; if you do not pay the fine (or submit a formal challenge) within 28 days then the fine increases by 50 percent to £90.

And if you don’t pay the increased amount within 14 days, the council will register the debt with the Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC) at Northampton County Court. There are full details of the process that follows this on the Oxfordshire County Council website, here.

Can I appeal an Oxford ZEZ fine?

Yes, it is possible to appeal against an Oxford ZEZ fine, but it must be done in writing and submitted within 28 days of the charge certificate. There will be details on how to appeal on the PCN or the Oxfordshire County Council website, here.

Any appeal will not be accepted if you have already paid the Oxford ZEZ fine.

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