What does ULEZ mean? Here’s everything you need to know…

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ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emissions Zone. These zones are designed to tackle pollution in major UK cities, like London. So, let’s take a look…

  • London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone is being expanded from August 2023
  • Other cities across the UK have introduced their own clean air zones
  • Manchester has taken a different approach to tackle air pollution in the city

The drive towards urban areas with cleaner air continues across the UK, as the government’s deadline on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030 draws nearer. In August 2023, London’s ULEZ will be increased, while cities across England continue to introduce Clean Air Zones (CAZ) and major cities in Scotland embrace the low emission zones (LEZ).

We know all the acronyms can make things seem far more complicated than they need to be, so sit back, grab a cuppa, and let us simplify the situation for you…

What does ULEZ mean for drivers?

ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emissions Zone. It’s an area of London with high levels of pollution, meaning there are restrictions for drivers. The aim of the ULEZ scheme is to reduce the number of high-emission cars travelling within it. It was introduced in 2019 and was the first of its kind in the world.

Drivers of older and/or high-emission vehicles face a charge of £12.50 a day when they drive within the ULEZ. Larger vehicles such as buses, coaches, and lorries can be charged £100 a day if they don’t meet the required standards.

If you’re driving a vehicle registered outside the UK, it will also need to meet the ULEZ regulations to avoid paying.

What does CAZ mean for drivers?

A CAZ is a Clean Air Zone, which is very similar to the ULEZ. You’ll find a CAZ in many cities across England and you’ll need to pay a charge if your vehicle doesn’t meet the required emissions standards.

There are four types of clean air zone as defined by the UK government…

  • Class A - Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles
  • Class B - Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles
  • Class C - Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses
  • Class D - Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses, cars, the local authority has the option to include motorcycles

Expanded ULEZ from 29 August 2023

Where are the ULEZ and CAZ zones in England?

What does LEZ mean for drivers?

A LEZ is a Low Emission Zone – this is how cities in Scotland refer to their restricted emissions areas. The zones aim to prevent any polluting vehicles from driving through them at all. Another difference between the Scottish LEZ and ULEZ and CAZ is that you can’t drive a non-compliant vehicle into a Scottish LEZ – even for a price.

Any car driving in a LEZ which doesn’t meet the emission standards will receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of £60, which is reduced by half if paid within 14 days. There’s no option to pay a daily fee if your car isn’t compliant.

Where are the LEZ in Scotland?

What if I live near or in the London ULEZ?

The Mayor of London launched a new £110m scrappage scheme providing financial assistance to help eligible Londoners scrap their highest polluting vehicles. To be eligible, you’ll need to live within a London borough and receive certain low income or disability benefits. There’s also a scheme that sole traders, micro businesses or charities can make use of.

Bear in mind you won’t be eligible if you’ve received a grant payment under the previous TFL scrappage scheme.

Did you know... “Londoners on certain low income or disability benefits, and eligible micro businesses (up to 10 employees), sole traders and charities with a registered address in London could be eligible for the ULEZ scrappage scheme.”

Can I get a grant if I live near or in a Clean Air Zone (CAZ)?

Yes. Similarly to the ULEZ scrappage scheme, there’s help for those who live in or near a CAZ. The assistance you receive will depend on your local council and whether or not they’re offering grants to local residents. Those councils who are currently offering grants include Newcastle, Sheffield and Bath.

What does ULEZ, CAZ or LEZ compliant mean?

The main types of vehicles set to be charged within Low Emission and Clean Air Zones are those registered before a certain date, as they usually give off higher emissions. Larger vehicles such as buses and HGVs will also be charged due to their size and emission rates. Electric vehicles are exempt from charges in a CAZ, LEZ or the London ULEZ.

How much does it cost to drive in a clean air zone (CAZ)?

There’s no flat charge for driving in a CAZ. Every location sets different charges, based on the vehicle type and time spent within the zone. The ULEZ or similar restricted zones consider the age of a diesel or petrol car when deciding whether or not it should be charged.

How do I pay the daily charges?

Whether you’re in London, Bath or Portsmouth, you can pay the charges online using the governments payment portal.

Be warned, there are third-party sites that will entice you to their payment portals. Although the payments will work, you will pay more for the charge than if you use the official payment site.


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