ULEZ and classic cars

London and Birmingham low emissions zones mean daily charges for users of non-compliant vehicles, including private cars. More cities plan to follow. While classic cars old enough to qualify for road tax exemption *should be ULEZ charge exempt, younger classics aren't.

Classic Cars magazine

by Phil Bell |

The London low emissions zone now extends to the area inside the North Circular and South Circular, but excludes the roads themselves. Similarly, the Birmingham zone covers the area inside the A4530 Middleway Ring Road. Other cities plan to follow, including Bath, Newcastle and Sheffield, along with several Scottish cities.

ULEZ exemption for classic vehicles

Cars registered in the historic vehicle class (more than 40 years old, on a rolling basis), and therefore road tax exempt, are also exempt from ULEZ charges. For more details on which types of historic vehicle are or are not exempt, visit https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/discounts-and-exemptions.

Modern classics

Cars not registered in the historic vehicle class and which don’t have low enough emissions to be ULEZ exempt are liable for the ULEZ charge on each day the car is driven within the zone. It does not apply to cars parked. At the time of writing, the charge is £12.50 per day but check here for updates: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/ulez-payments

You can check whether your modern classic is ULEZ compliant here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle/

ULEZ compliance/charge exemption is based on the car having been originally built to Euro 4 emissions standards: • CO 1.0g/km • THC 0.1g/km • NOx 0.08g/km. Petrol cars sold in the UK from January 2005 had to be built to Euro 4 standard or higher, although some older cars were already built to this standard and are therefore ULEZ compliant. The TFL check-your-vehicle page above should confirm this for your vehicle.

Can I modify my non-compliant car to Euro 4 standards?

ULEZ exemption is based on the standards that the car was originally built to. It is our understanding that modifying a non-compliant car to the emissions standards above will not make it ULEZ charge exempt.

Can I rely on the TFL ULEZ vehicle checker?

The FBHVC (Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs) warns that this is unreliable and may flag up exempt classics as being liable. *****As a test, on 11 August 2021, I ran a 1962 Jaguar E-type through the online vehicle checker and it informed me that the car was liable for the charge. That car had been imported to the UK from the United States in 2002, which maybe confusing the picture.

Congestion charge

Classics of any age are not exempt from the central London congestion charge, currently £15 per day. The zone and the times when charges apply is defined here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/congestion-charge/congestion-charge-zone

Other useful links

MoT and road tax exemption

• Ethanol-blended petrol and E10

• White/silver-on-black number plate rules

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