ULEZ Exempt Cars; Vehicles and Exemptions in the Ultra Low Emission Zone
Find out what vehicles are exempt from paying London’s ULEZ charge and read the latest regulations
The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has expanded to include the entire area of Greater London, but not all vehicles need to pay the daily charge. This article explains what ULEZ exempt cars are, the vehicles that qualify for ULEZ exemption, and how you can check yours.
What are ULEZ exempt cars?
ULEZ exempt cars are those that do not need to pay the daily £12.50 charge to travel within the zone. As of Tuesday 29th August 2023, the ULEZ boundary was increased in size from inner London to the city’s outer boundaries, so it now covers all 33 boroughs - and in some parts, even reaches the M25.
Passenger cars exempt from ULEZ charges include:
- Petrol cars that meet Euro 4 standards
- Diesel cars that meet Euro 6 standards
- Hybrid cars that meet Euro 4 or Euro 6 standards (depending on the fuel type)
- Electric cars
- Vehicles for disabled people
- Classic cars
We explain more about each of these ULEZ exempt car categories, below:
Petrol cars exempt from ULEZ
Petrol cars exempt from ULEZ charges are those that meet Euro 4 standards. These are usually cars (and vans) that have been manufactured after January 2006 and produce no more than 1.0g of CO (carbon monoxide) emissions per kilometre.
Diesel cars exempt from ULEZ
Diesel cars exempt from ULEZ charges are those that meet Euro 6 standards. These are usually cars (and vans) that have been manufactured after September 2015 and produce no more than 0.5g of CO (carbon monoxide) emissions per kilometre.
Hybrid cars exempt from ULEZ
To be exempt from the ULEZ charge, hybrid cars (including mild hybrids) need to meet either Euro 4 (petrol) or Euro 6 (diesel) standards, depending on whether the vehicle relies on petrol or diesel to fuel the conventional part of the engine.
Electric cars exempt from ULEZ
Up until 25 December 2025, all electric cars are exempt from paying the ULEZ charge. 100% electric cars are zero emission vehicles and therefore qualify for free travel in London under the cleaner vehicle discount scheme.
Vehicles for disabled people exempt from ULEZ
Vehicles used for or by disabled people are automatically exempt from ULEZ if they meet the standard Euro 4 or Euro 6 emissions for petrol and diesel-fuelled cars or vans. If not, a grace period can be granted in one of three categories:
- ‘Disabled’ and ‘Disabled Passenger Vehicle’ tax class. This temporary ULEZ exemption applies to disabled people who own a vehicle that is registered with the DVLA under the ‘Disabled’ OR ‘Disabled Passenger Vehicle’ tax class benefits - this grace period is in place until 24 October 2027.
- Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs). Open to owners of wheelchair accessible cars and vans, this option provides temporary ULEZ exemption to disabled drivers and passengers who own a specially adapted vehicle. The exemption is in place until 25 October 2027.
- Disabled Benefits. This category enables people who receive certain disability benefits (such as Personal Independence Payment, and Adult Disability Payment) to travel within ULEZ free of charge for the foreseeable future.
Classic cars exempt from ULEZ
Some classic cars are exempt from paying the ULEZ charge depending on the vehicle’s age. These fall into one of two categories:
- Cars built before 1 January 1973
- Cars over 40 years old that are registered with the DVLA in the ‘historic vehicle’ tax class
Taxis exempt from ULEZ
London-licensed taxis (black cabs) are exempt from ULEZ charges, as long as they are no older than 12 years. Any new taxis registered to carry passengers must be zero emission capable (ZEC) to meet the green guidelines laid out in the Mayor’s Taxi and Private Hire Action Plan.
Other vehicles exempt from ULEZ
Of course, it’s not just certain categories of cars that are exempt from paying the London ULEZ charge, other vehicles are also excused from the daily fee - these include:
Minibuses exempt from ULEZ
Minibuses used by not-for-profit organisations are eligible for a temporary 100% discount from the ULEZ charge. Up until 26 October 2025, organisations such as; charities, schools (excluding private schools), further education institutions, 16 to 19 academies, and local authorities that rely on minibuses to carry passengers are exempt.
Vans exempt from ULEZ
Up until 29 November 2023, micro businesses (up to 10 employees), small businesses (up to 50 employees), charities, and sole traders with an address registered in one of the London boroughs, can apply for ULEZ exemption based on one of the following two criteria:
- The eligible business or individual has ordered a new van or minibus that meets ULEZ emissions standards (Euro 4 for petrol models, Euro 6 for diesel models)
- The eligible business or individual has booked their existing van or minibus to be retrofitted by an approved fitter under the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS)
Private Hire Vehicles exempt from ULEZ
Private hire vehicles (PHVs) that are designated as wheelchair accessible are exempt from the ULEZ charge up until 24 October 2027.
Showman’s vehicles exempt from ULEZ
Surprisingly, ‘showman’ vehicles are designated their very own ULEZ exemption category. These are classed as vehicles used by travelling showmen which may have been modified in some way - the 100% discount from ULEZ charges is not applicable to accompanying trailers.
Miscellaneous vehicles exempt from ULEZ
Not all ULEZ exempt vehicles can fit comfortably into one category. As such, there are a number of ‘miscellaneous’ vehicles that meet exemption criteria. These are:
- Agricultural vehicles
- Military vehicles
- Mobile cranes
- Non-road based vehicles (such as excavators)
What is the difference between ULEZ exempt and ULEZ compliant cars?
Cars that are ULEZ exempt fall into a pre-approved category which makes them immune from the daily charge - this may be because the vehicle is a London taxi or a classic car which is over 40 years old, for example.
ULEZ compliant cars are those that are eligible to travel within ULEZ for free because they fit within the regulatory standards to do so. For example, electric cars have zero emissions so comply with the scheme’s strict emission-based restrictions.
What cars are ULEZ compliant?
As we’ve mentioned above, some cars are not affected by ULEZ and can travel freely within the Greater London zone. Any diesel car that meets Euro 6 standards, any petrol car that meets Euro 4 standards, any electric car, and the majority of hybrid cars are exempt from paying ULEZ fees.
Some of the most popular ULEZ compliant cars are in fact sold here at our Wilsons Epsom dealership and include:
- Hyundai KONA
- Hyundai IONIQ 5
- MG4 EV
- Nissan LEAF
- Nissan Qashqai
- Renault Zoe
- Tesla Model 3
ULEZ Vehicle Checker: How to check if your car is exempt from paying Ultra Low Emission Zone charges
The best way to check if you’re vehicle complies with ULEZ emission standards is via the Transport for London (TfL) website. Simply enter your registration number and choose the country of registration (United Kingdom or Non-UK options available) to find your vehicle online.
What happens if a car is not ULEZ compliant?
Any car that is not compliant with Ultra Low Emission Zone standards when driving in London will need to pay a daily charge of £12.50. Paying the ULEZ charge is a straightforward process that can be completed online via the Transport for London (TfL) website.
When do ULEZ charges apply?
ULEZ charges are enforced 24-hours a day and are in place 364 days a year - so that’s every day except Christmas Day. The zone is monitored by a vast network of ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras which scan your car’s number plate so that no vehicle will be able to travel within ULEZ without being seen. Failure to pay the daily ULEZ fee will result in penalty charges of up to £180 per day.
FAQs and Answers
We hope our blog has helped you understand more about ULEZ exempt cars and what makes a vehicle compliant to travel within London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone for free. If you still have a question about ULEZ exemptions, please refer to our FAQs below:
What cars qualify for ULEZ exemption?
If your car falls within one of the following categories, it is likely to be exempt from the daily ULEZ charge:
- Petrol cars that meet Euro 4 standards
- Diesel cars that meet Euro 6 standards
- Hybrid cars that meet Euro 4 or Euro 6 standards
- Electric cars
- Vehicles for disabled drivers or passengers
- Classic cars over 40 years old
- Licensed London taxis
Are classic cars exempt from ULEZ charges?
Yes, a majority of classic cars are exempt from ULEZ charges in London. To comply, classic cars must either have been built before 1 January 1973, or be over 40 years old and registered with the DVLA’s ‘historic vehicle’ tax class.
How do I know if I am exempt from ULEZ?
To check if your vehicle is exempt from ULEZ, we advise using Transport for London’s (TFLs) free online checker. Enter the number plate on the ‘Check your vehicle’ page to find your vehicle.
Can I make my old car ULEZ compliant?
Yes, it is possible to make your old car ULEZ compliant to avoid paying the daily fee. This is done via retrofitting which can upgrade the car’s exhaust system, or change the engine in its entirety.
How old does a car have to be to avoid ULEZ?
This question depends on the fuel type, or if the vehicle is classed as a classic car. To avoid ULEZ charges, a petrol car will need to meet Euro 4 standards - these are cars that will have been manufactured after January 2006. A diesel car will need to meet Euro 6 standards - these are cars that will have been manufactured after September 2015. Classic cars are ULEZ exempt if they were built before 1 January 1973.
Is ULEZ free for Blue Badge holders?
ULEZ is only free for Blue Badge holders if the vehicle driven meets current emission standards, OR falls into one of three temporary exemption categories: 1) ‘Disabled’ and ‘Disabled Passenger Vehicle’, 2) Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs), and 3) Disabled Benefits
What are the oldest cars that are ULEZ compliant?
Owners of classic cars are likely to be ULEZ exempt when travelling through London. All classic cars built before 1 January 1973 do not have to pay the daily charge, while classic cars over 40 years old must be registered as a historic vehicle with the DVLA to be exempt.
Are all new cars exempt from ULEZ?
As a general rule of thumb, newly manufactured cars tend to be exempt from London ULEZ charges whether petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric.
Will I have to pay ULEZ from August 2023
Yes, if your vehicle isn’t compliant with current ULEZ emissions standards, then a daily fee of £12.50 is applicable when driving in Greater London.
Beat the ULEZ charge
If you’re a regular driver to and from London, then you can beat the £12.50 daily Ultra Low Emission Zone charge when upgrading to a ULEZ compliant car at Wilsons Epsom.
You can part-exchange your non-ULEZ compliant vehicle at our multi-franchise dealership in Surrey - located not far from the Greater London border. We are the largest family-run car supermarket in the South of England, with over 1,000 vehicles in stock - including many hybrid and electric models too.
Speak to us about car finance solutions that are tailored to your needs, allowing you to spread the cost of a new or nearly new car across manageable monthly payments. Explore the special offers on a range of brand new models which start from just £29 per month with 0% APR available too.
Are you considering switching to an electric car? If so, read our review of the most affordable electric cars to discover just how budget-friendly an EV can really be.