London Congestion Charge
The London Congestion Charge is paid by drivers travelling within the Congestion Charge Zone in London. The scheme operates between 7am and 6pm, Monday-Friday. There is no charge on weekends, public holidays, or between Christmas Day and New Year's Day inclusive.
Occasional drivers can pay £11.50 in advance of travel, or by midnight on the day of travel. Payments received by midnight the day after travel are subject to a £2.50 surcharge. Failure to pay by this time results in a Penalty Charge Notice of £130, though like many fines of this type, the charge is halved to £65 if paid within 14 days.
For daily commuters, the annual cost of driving in the Congestion Charge Zone could amount to more than £2,000 per year. Regular drivers can reduce their costs though by registering with the Auto Pay system (£10 per year). This automatically records and charges drivers based on the number of chargable days their vehicle travels within the charging zone each month. Auto Pay customer receive a £1.00 daily reduction making the daily charge £10.50.
Ultra Low Emission Discount
One of the discounts and exemptions for London's Congestion Charge Zone is the Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED). This allows cars that emit 75 g/km CO2 or less, and meet Euro 5 emissions standards or better, a 100 per cent discount after a £10 annual registration fee has been paid. It is intended to reward drivers of ultra low emission vehicles that minimise their impact on Central London's air quality.
There is no restriction on the technology used to achieve the sub-76 g/km CO2 emissions and eligible models include all electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and the majority of plug-in hybrids on the market. A few conventional hybrid models are eligible too though only if they qualify under the emissions regulation. A full list of congestion charge exempt vehicles can be found here.
The ULED came into force on 1st July 2013 and, prior to that, the Mayor of London's office operated a Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD) scheme which ran from 4th January 2011 until 30th June 2013. This offered a 100 per cent discount to vehicles emitting 100 g/km CO2 or less but has been superceded by the more stringent ULED. There is a full discount sunset period of three years for those registered on the GVD scheme to enable them to change cars and not get stung by increased costs if their car emits between 76 and 100 g/km CO2, though this ends on 28th June 2016.
Residents who live in the charging zone or designated areas next to the zone may be eligible for a 90% discount (subject to a £10 annual reigstration fee). You can use the Transport for London address checker to confirm whether your property’s location qualifies your vehicle for exemption.
Blue Badge holders
If you hold a valid Blue Badge, you're eligible for 100% discount, even if you don't own a vehicle or drive. You can register up to two vehicles (subject to a £10 annual charge)
A full list of eligible exemptions and discounts can be found on the official Transport for London website.