London, a major centre of culture, finance, and commerce, is one the most bustling and populous cities in Europe. It is popular for its incredible landmarks like Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. The vast diversity of museums, restaurants and shops also make it one of the most famous tourist places. Owing to its high activity, the London Congestion Charge was introduced in 2003, in an attempt to reduce traffic and improve the quality of air. Whether you’re a tourist visiting London for the first time or someone who has recently migrated to this capital city, our guide below will tell you everything you need to know about the London Congestion Charge.
What Is The London Congestion Charge?
The London Congestion Charge is a daily fee charged if you drive through certain parts of London during the stipulated periods of time. It is generally aimed at encouraging people to make more use of public transport or travel by foot or bicycle, especially during rush hours. So far, it has been successful to reduce congestion caused by traffic and has significantly increased London’s air quality over the years. It is charged for driving during the following times –
- 7 am to 6 pm: Monday to Friday
- 12 pm to 6 pm: Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays
There is no Congestion Charge to be paid for driving during the following times –
- 6 pm to 7 am: Monday to Thursday
- 6 pm Friday to 12 pm Saturday
- 6 pm Saturday to 12 pm Sunday
- 6 pm Sunday to 7 am Monday
As of now, the Congestion Charge is £15 per vehicle per day, if it is paid in advance or before midnight on the previous day. A fee of £17.50 is charged in case it is paid up to three days later. Once the charge is paid, you can travel through the Congestion Charge Zone as many times as it is needed, just for one fee.
Where Is The London Congestion Charge Zone?
The Congestion Charge Zone covers the City of Westminster, the City of London along with most parts of Central London and certain parts of the London Boroughs of Camden, Lambeth and Southwark. The following postcodes come under the Congestion Charge Zone-
- WC1, WC2
- EC1, EC2, EC3, EC4
- SE1 (parts)
In case of uncertainty, you can always refer to the Congestion Charge Map of London. Also, it is easy to find out if your desired area falls under the Zone as long as you know either the street name or the postcode. It is to be noted that the speed limit in the Congestion Charge Zone is now 20 miles or 32 km per hour.
How To Pay Congestion Charge London?
There are many different ways offered to pay the London Congestion Charge. You can pay online, via the app or by phone too. Each of these methods to pay has been discussed in detail below.
Pay Via TFL Pay
Transport for London or TFL of the Government of London has a ‘Pay To Drive In London’ app which you can use to pay the charge. It is available to be downloaded on Google Play or the Apple App Store, free of cost.
It is quite easy to pay the Congestion Charge online with TFL by using your credit or debit card. there is no need for registering or creating an account and password. The only details required are the vehicle registration number and the country of registration. It is advised to use only the official TFL website to pay the charges since other websites charge much more than the official rate, at times over 35 per cent. Hence, it is best to use their website to be safe.
Pay By Phone
The TFL ‘Pay To Drive In London Service’ can be called in order to pay the London Congestion Charge. The vehicle registration number, country of registration and credit or debit card details are required to successfully pay the charge. The aforementioned service is open from 8 am to 8 pm from Monday to Friday and can be accessed on the following contact numbers –
- 0343 222 2222 – within the United Kingdom
- 44 343 222 2222 – outside the United Kingdom
If you travel through the Congestion Zone on a regular basis, Auto Pay is probably the best and most feasible option out there. On registering with this service, you will be billed automatically for the total number of charging days or duration that the registered vehicle travels through the zone. However, you must be at least 18 years of age, complete a direct debit mandate or link a payment card. In case more than five vehicles pass through the zone, you can select the Fleet Auto Pay service. It is to be noted that no registration or renewal fees are required to add vehicles to either of these services.
If the charge isn’t paid within the given amount of time, a Penalty Charge Notice for £160 is issued to the registered home address, via the means of cameras. If the fine is paid within 14 days, a 50 per cent reduction is also provided.
How Does The Parking In The Congestion Zone Work?
The charge is applied only when the vehicle is driven through the Congestion Zone during the congestion period. In case the vehicle is parked, even for days at an end in the Zone, you do not need to pay any additional fees. It is to be paid only for the days you take it out of parking during the stipulated hours.
How To Know If You’ve Entered The Congestion Zone?
Unfortunately, there are no toll booths to mark the boundaries of the Congestion Zone. Only cameras are set up around the entry and exit of the zone to record the number plate of the vehicles. However, there are signs on the road that will intimate you about it while you approach Central London. These signs tell the drivers how far they are from the Congestion Zone, and within the Zone itself, there are signs on the roads with large red circles and a white ‘C’.
Are There Any Discounts Or Reimbursements Available For The London Congestion Charge?
You may be entitled to a 90 per cent residents’ discount if you live in the Congestion Charge Residents’ Discount Zone. However, there are certain criteria that the applicant must fulfil before applying for the discount. You must be at least 17 years old, your name must be shown on the Parliamentary or local government electoral register, and you must have a permanent home in the zone that is used only for residential purposes. Once ensured, the applicant only needs to submit the evidence of address and discount vehicle. There are several other minor discounts available that can be checked and verified on the TFL website.
Certain NHS staff, patients, local authorities, charities and care home workers are liable to get reimbursements for the London Congestion Charge. Also, two-wheeled motorcycles, emergency vehicles, NHS vehicles, transportation used by disabled people, licensed taxis, armed forces, Royal Parks Agency, breakdown organisations and HM Coastguard and Port Authorities are all exempted from paying this charge.
1. How much is London Congestion Charge?
The cost of transport of London Congestion Charge is £15 per vehicle per day if it is paid in advance or £17.50 if it is paid up to three days later.
2. What are the different ways to pay the charge?
In order to pay Congestion Charge London, you can download the TFL app, pay via the official website or also pay via phone.
3. How to avoid paying the charge?
Since October 2021, zero-emission vehicles like EVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been exempt from paying the charge. Otherwise, the best way to avoid it is to pick a route other than the areas that come under the Congestion Charge Zone.
4. What happens if you ignore the Congestion Charge?
An enforcement notice with your name, address and the money owed is issued if you ignore the Congestion Charge for too long. If this initial warrant is ignored too, an enforcement agent is liable to visit our house to collect the debt along with any enforcement fees that may be applicable.
5. What is the advantage of the London Congestion Charge?
Along with reducing traffic congestion and increasing air quality, congestion pricing helps drivers and businesses to reduce delays and stress by predicting trip times and allowing more delivery. It has also increased the number of people using public transport.
Thank you for reading our complete guide to the London Congestion Charge! Let us know your queries in the comment section below.
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