When does the London Congestion Charge scheme start?
The start date for the scheme was 17th February 2003 and it was extended westwards as of 19 February 2007.
A large scale pdf version (file size 4MB) can be viewed or downloaded via this link.*
How much is the Charge?
The Mayor and Transport for London originally set the charge at £5. It has recently been increased to £8 or £10 if you pay by midnight the following charging day.
Consultations have recently been announced on increasing the charge for the most polluting vehicles to £25.00 as of 2009. Under the same plans the lowest polluting vehicles would become exempt from the charge.
What area is covered by the scheme?
The congestion charge zone will be contained by the ‘Inner Ring Road’ which links Euston Road, Pentonville Road, Tower Bridge, Elephant & Castle, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Park Lane and Marylebone Road.
From the 19 February 2007 the zone was extended to the west to cover the areas of Bayswater, Notting Hill, North and South Kensington, High Street Kensington, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Belgravia and Pimlico.
A map of the current zone and extension can be found here.
How will the scheme operate?
Motorists wishing to enter the controlled zone between 7am and 6.00pm on Mondays to Fridays will need to pay a charge (the Congestion Charge). There is no charge on public holidays.
The charge can be paid either in advance or on the day. The registration numbers of these vehicles being registered will be entered into a database. Drivers will not be required to display a licence.
The number plates of vehicles entering or moving within the zone will be observed by a network of fixed and mobile cameras. The number plates collected by the cameras will be cross checked checked against the database of registered vehicles. The owner of any vehicle within the central zone without having paid (unless exempt/discounted) will be liable to a penalty charge
There will be no toll booths, gantries or barriers; drivers will not have to stop.
Who is liable to pay?
There are several groups of drivers who are exempt from paying.These are set out below. If you do not fit into any of these groups you will be required to pay for driving within the zone.
- Blue Badge (formerly known as an Orange Badge) holders.
- Vehicles used by certain NHS staff (including Locum and Agency staff) on journeys carrying bulky, heavy or fragile equipment, confidential patient notes, controlled drugs etc. and for NHS staff on call to provide services in an emergency;
- Vehicles used by certain NHS patients attending hospital appointments
- Vehicles used by firefighters for operational journeys between fire stations.
- Motorbikes and mopeds
- Hackney carriages (Black cabs)
- London licensed minicabs
- Emergency Service vehicles
- NHS vehicles exempt from vehicle excise duty
- Vehicles used by disabled persons which are exempt from vehicle excise duty
- Disabled passenger carrying vehicles which are exempt from vehicle excise duty (e.g. Dial-a-Ride vehicles)
- Buses and coaches with 9 or more seats that are licensed in the ‘bus class’ with the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
- Certain operational vehicles used by the eight Local Authorities within or partly within the charging zone and the Royal Parks Agency
- Vehicles used for lifeboat haulage and by HM Coastguard, and Port of London Authority vehicles in use attending emergencies on the River Thames; and military vehicles used by the armed forces.
- All alternative fuel (i.e. gas, electric, fuel cell etc.) vehicles (including bi/dual fuel vehicles) that are approved vehicles or have been converted by an approved supplier as listed on the Transport Action Register maintained by the Energy Saving Trust or an equivalent register maintained by an equivalent body in the European Economic Area (EEA).
- Breakdown vehicles in use to provide roadside assistance or recovery services operated by independently accredited organisations (e.g. AA, RAC, Green Flag)
- Specially adapted recovery vehicles (e.g. those used by motoring organisations for breakdown removals).
I thought MPs were exempt?
Two of the biggest myths are that MPs are exempt and that the money is taken by the Treasury.
In fact MPs pay like everyone else and London keeps the revenue for public transport project. Ministers using cars for official use do not pay but their department does in line with existing rules over Road Tax, insurance and other running costs. This is in keeping with all ‘corporate’ fleets. London government has no fleet of official cars.
I live in the Zone – do I still need to pay?
Residents in the charging zone can register their vehicle for a 90% discount for a minimum of one week. This discount will, of course, be subject to verification of residency status and vehicle ownership. They will also need to an annual £10 charge to cover administration and verification costs.
Residents with a parking permit living inside the zone will be able to park all day in a residents’ parking bay (within their local parking zone) without paying any congestion charge provided they do not move the vehicle during the hours of operation of the scheme.
Where do I pay?
You will be able to pay in selected retail outlets, garages, by phone or over the internet.
The official Congestion Charge website contains full details of payment options.
What If I don’t pay?
The registered owner of any vehicle within the zone without the congestion charge having been paid will be liable to an £100 penalty.
The payment and appeals system is intended to be similar to those for parking penalties with the penalty being reduced to £50 for prompt payment.
Those failing to pay the penalty in time will incur an increased penalty of £150.
Those individuals persistently evading the scheme and having 3 or more unpaid penalties outstanding (not subject to representation or appeal) will face the clamping or removal of their vehicle. TfL have the power to impose these sanctions on any qualifying vehicle parked on the public highway anywhere within Greater London not just inside the central zone.
Motorists will not automatically be penalised if they enter the central zone without buying a licence during charging hours – they will have until the end of the following day to register and pay the charge.
Drivers will pay the standard £8 if they pay before midnight on the day, rising to £10 if they pay by midnight the following charging day.