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 |
Updated on

The London low emissions zone currently extends to the area inside the North Circular and South Circular, but excludes the roads themselves. From 29 August 2023 it will expand to include all London boroughs, covering much of the area inside the M25 motorway (https://lruc.content.tfl.gov.uk/guide-to-ulez-expansion-2023.pdf).

At the time of writing, the only other English cities with Class D ULEZ (affecting private cars, among other vehicles) are Birmingham (inside the A4530 Middleway Ring Road) and Bristol (https://www.bristol.gov.uk/residents/streets-travel/bristols-caz/view-a-map). In Scotland, Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh are included.

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.

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.

You can check whether your modern classic is ULEZ compliant here: https://pay.drive-clean-air-zone.service.gov.uk/vehicles/enter_details

ULEZ compliance/charge exemption is based on petrol cars having been originally built to Euro 4 (or higher) 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 (or higher) 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, we ran a 1962 Jaguar E-type through the online vehicle checker and it informed us that the car was liable for the charge.

Congestion charge

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

MoT and road tax exemption

• Ethanol-blended petrol and E10

• White/silver-on-black number plate rules

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us