The London Congestion Charge was introduced at the start of 2003. It was set up to try and reduce the number of vehicles entering the capital, and help to lower harmful emissions to improve air quality. It also aimed to bring in additional revenue for Transport for London, with more than 250 million pounds raised per annum in recent years.
Costs for motorists depend on various factors, such as whether you pay in advance, if you’re a resident and the emission levels of your vehicle. Motorists can enter and leave the capital as many times as they wish during a charging day, and are only charged once for that time. A typical motorist would pay a daily fee of around £11-14, with reductions for residents.
Exemptions to the Congestion Charge cover new and used cars and vehicles which now emit under 75g of CO2 per kilometre. The level was initially 100 g/km but this was lowered to its current figure in July 2013, as more and more manufacturers found ways to improve the efficiency and lower vehicle emissions. The current figure of 75 g/km excludes every conventional petrol or diesel car on the UK roads at time of writing, and thus only applies to electric and certain hybrid vehicles. Some of the cars currently exempt from the charge include: BMW 330e iPerformance hybrid, Mercedes C350e hybrid, Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid, Toyota Prius hatchback, Volkswagen Golf GTE hatchback, Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine hybrid, Audi A3 e-tron, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SUV, MINI Countryman Cooper S E ALL4 hybrid and the Kia Niro SUV.
The Government has provided incentives for car manufacturers to produce lower emitting and greener vehicles such as hybrids and fully electric cars, and there’s an increasing number on the roads; from smart city cars to SUV hybrids, more and more motorists are adopting electric cars, though the cost remains prohibitive when compared to more conventional cars. Note that often the CO2 emission levels is related to wheel size, so vehicles with larger wheels may well still come under the charging band.
There are also specific exemptions for certain classes of vehicle and those belonging to certain demographics. These include mopeds and two wheeled motorbikes (including sidecars), tax-exempt NHS vehicles, emergency services vehicles and transportation for the armed forces. There are also exemptions for tax-exempt vehicles used by disabled drivers or passengers, including directly-owned vehicles and those used by companies such as Dial-a-Ride which cater for the disabled and are again tax-exempt.
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Passenger transport vehicles such as private hire cars, taxis and related cars registered with London Taxi and Private Hire. Vehicles in this class which travel into the city from outside, and which aren’t registered with TPH will still need to pay the Congestion Charge. Most motor trade vehicles, including those used on trade plates, will not be exempt.
There are other more specialist exemptions including coastguard vehicles, European Economic Area member state vehicles that have been registered, and breakdown vehicles. if you are at all uncertain, contact the DVLA to find out if your vehicle is exempt from the Congestion Charge; drivers who fail to notify the DVLA and don’t pay the Charge will face a penalty fine for each transgression. There is also no link between a vehicle’s eligibility for exemption and a driver’s insurance policy, whether the vehicle is privately owned or used in the trade.