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What is congestion charging?

The congestion charge in London is a fee that needs to be paid by motor vehicles operating in the Central London’s Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) on weekdays between 7 A.M. to 6 P.M. It is an effective way to assure that people using important and congested road space contribute financially for this valuable amenity. It also motivates commuters to use other transportation means and promises a safer and quicker travel on these roads.  However, congestion fee is not charged on weekends or public holidays and from Christmas till first day of the New Year. Non-exempt vehicles travelling within the CCZ are usually charged £10 per day and non-payment of the fee can make the owner liable for penalties between £60 and £187.

How does it work?

You are permitted to enter, drive or leave the charging areas as many times you need to, on a particular day following the payment of the fee. You’ll not find any toll gates or barriers around and within the CCZ nor do you require any passes or tickets. However, you need to register the car/vehicle number on a TfL Database by paying the requisite fee.

Cameras installed along the roads detect your registration number which is automatically reviewed and compared with the database as and when you enter, leave or drive in the CCZ. If the registration plate number matches with the one in the database and shows that you have paid the charge or are exempted from making the payment, the image of your vehicle is removed from the database. After concluding a final check at midnight the next day, the computers retain the list of numbers which didn’t make the payment. The recorded images are manually analysed by the Transport for London or TfL and penalty notices are issued to the owners or hirers of the vehicles.

Exemptions and discounts

It is not mandatory for everyone driving in the CCZ to pay the congestion charge. Certain categories of drivers and vehicles are exempted from paying the charge.
Vehicles that meet Euro5 Emission Standards with emissions lower than 100g/km of CO2 are eligible for a 100% discount on congestion charge. People living in the Congestion Charging Zone are generally provided a 90% discount.

Also, payment of congestion charge or registration with TfL is not required for vehicles already recorded with DVLA under the following categories:

  • Mopeds and motorbikes, bicycles and sidecars
  • Taxis and minicabs having London licence
  • Vehicles meant for emergency service
  • NHS vehicles that don’t need to pay road tax
  • Vehicles that are used by disabled persons and exempt from disabled class road tax
  • HM Port Authorities and Coastguard vehicles
  • London boroughs vehicles
  • Armed forces vehicles

Vehicles of breakdown organisations