Understanding the congestion charge
In 2003, London became the first city to introduce a congestion charge in an effort to reduce the traffic in and around the city centre. Neglect or forget to pay and you could end up with a £130 fine. We break down the rules to ensure you're fully prepared for driving in London.
When and where does it apply?
If you're traveling through London between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday – with the exception of Bank Holidays and the days between Christmas and New Year – you'll probably have to pay the congestion charge. Currently the charge zone includes: St James, Waterloo, Borough, City of London, Clerkenwell, Holborn, Finsbury, Bloomsbury, Soho, Mayfair, Lambeth, Southwark and parts of Marylebone.
What does it cost?
There are a few payment options available and each comes with a different fee:
- £10 for paying in advance or on the day of travel
- £12 for paying the following charging day after travel
- £9 if you register for the Congestion Charge Auto Pay
For those paying in advance, on the day or on the following charging day, you can visit tfl.gov.uk or pay by telephone on 0845 900 1234.
For those registered on Congestion Charge Auto Pay, TFL will automatically record the number of traveling instances within the charging zone and bill you on a monthly basis. It costs just £10 to register a vehicle, which fully protects you against accidental penalty fees.
Is anyone exempt from paying?
There are some exemptions and discounts available, including:
- 90 percent discounts for registered residents living within a charge zone
- 100 percent exemption for disabled drivers with a Blue Badge
- 100 percent exemption for Ultra Low Emission vehicles that produce carbon emissions of 75g/km or less and meet the Euro 5 standard. Eligible plug-in and hybrid vehicles are also listed on the TFL website
- 100 percent exemption for vehicles with nine or more seats
- 100 percent exemption for some motor tricycles
- 100 percent exemption for roadside recovery vehicles
Please note that many of these exemptions require you to register with TFL in order to receive the discount.
The knowledgeable team at Charles Hurst will be happy to advise you on the congestion charge and its various exemptions.