London Congestion Charge – all you need to know about driving in Central London

cars stuck in traffic in London
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What is the Congestion Charge?

The Congestion Charge is an £11.50 daily charge for driving in Central London on weekdays during daytime hours (07:00 to 18:00), aimed to reduce traffic congestion in and around the charging zone.

UPDATE
Starting from June 22, TfL will increase the daily charge to £15 and extend the charging period to weekends too.

Currently only Euro 6 cars with CO2 emissions of 75 g/km or less and a zero-emission range of at least 20 km are allowed into the Congestion Charge Zone free of charge. This tightened regulation will be in force until October 2021, when the discount eligibility will be further restricted to fully electric cars.

To support driver-partners and offset their expenses, Uber adds a £1 surcharge to every trip that starts, ends, or passes through the Congestion Charge zone.

To help understand how Congestion Charge works and how it impacts you as a rideshare driver, check out our FAQ guide:

 

How much is the Congestion Charge?

TfL charges you £11.50 for every day you enter the charging zone between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm, with the exception of weekends.

What time is the Congestion Charge?

The Congestion Charge is between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

How do I pay the Congestion Charge online?

If you’re a Splend member
You have our full support as all of our cars are registered with TfL, and Splend will be billed daily if you enter the Congestion Charge zone. We’ll then on-charge this daily to your credit card. Therefore, you only need to make sure to have the necessary funds on your nominated credit card.

If you drive your own car
You can pay the charge online from your London Road User Charging account. If you don’t have one yet, you can register here.

You can reduce the costs by £1 per day if you sign up to TfL’s automated payment system, Congestion Charge Auto Pay. This is also the method recommended by TfL, as this way you’ll never be late on your payments and you can register up to 5 cars into a single account.

What if I forget to pay the Congestion Charge?

If you’re a Splend member
Again, you don’t have to worry about penalties because our entire fleet is registered and we process all payments in due time. In other words, you just have to make sure you always have at least £11.50 available on your credit card.

If you drive your own car
If you don’t pay the Congestion Charge by midnight on the day after you entered the charging zone, TfL will issue a PCN (Penalty Charge Notice) to the car’s registered keeper. If you get one of these, you can either pay the penalty or seek legal advice and challenge the PCN within 28 days of its date of service.

If you decide to pay the fine, do it within 14 days, so you get the 50% discount. If you miss this deadline and also don’t pay the full amount within 28 days, your penalty charge will increase by 50% and you’ll no longer be able to challenge the PCN.

Where is the Congestion Charge zone?

The Congestion Charge zone covers Central London roughly from Vauxhall to Clerkenwell and from Marylebone to Southwark. The area is enclosed by Marylebone Rd, Euston Rd, Pentonville Rd and City Rd (A501) to the north, Great Eastern St, Commercial St and Tower Bridge Rd to the east, New Kent Rd, Newington Butts and Kennington Ln to the south, and Vauxhall Bridge Rd, Grosvenor Pl, Park Ln and Edgware Rd to the west.

Tip: Set your route planner in Waze or Google Maps to avoid toll roads.

London Congestion Charging zone

Image credit: Transport for London

Do I need to pay the Congestion Charge? – Cars exempt from the Congestion Charge

Are hybrid cars exempt from the Congestion Charge?

Some of them are, some of them aren’t. To enjoy Congestion Charge exemption, you currently need to apply for a Cleaner Vehicle Discount in your London Road User Charging account.

Your hybrid car is eligible for the exemption if it meets these criteria:

  • Euro 6 emission standard compliant
  • CO2 emissions below 75g/km
  • Zero-emission capable range of at least 20 miles

You’ll only be exempt until October 2021, after which the discount will only be available for fully electric cars. After December 2025 TfL plans to retire the discount completely, meaning that all drivers that entering the charging zone will have to pay the daily fee regardless of their car’s emissions category.

Are electric cars exempt from the Congestion Charge?

Yes, all fully electric cars are Congestion Charge-exempt until December 2025, when TfL plans to retire the green vehicle discount and require all drivers to pay the daily fee regardless of their car’s emissions category.

 

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Is Congestion Charge the same as the ULEZ charge?

No. The primary purpose of the Congestion Charge is to reduce traffic during daytime hours, while ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) is aimed exclusively at improving air quality.

If you’re a Splend member
You don’t need to worry about the ULEZ charge – our entire fleet is ULEZ-compliant.

If you drive your own car
The ULEZ charge is currently enforced in the same area as the congestion charging zone, but all day, every day, and the criteria for exemption are more permissive.

  • Cars with Euro 6 diesel- or Euro 4 petrol engines and newer are exempt from paying the £12.50 daily charge. These are commonly found in cars registered after September 2015.
  • Petrol cars that meet the ULEZ standards are generally those registered with the DVLA after 2005, although cars that meet the standards have been available since 2001.

How to navigate the Congestion Charge as an on-demand driver?

To work around the Congestion Charge you’ll need to adapt your driving strategy. We have four tips you might find useful:

  1. If you enter the Congestion Charge zone, maximise your income for that day to offset the daily charge. Go for rides and delivery jobs in Central London to benefit from the £1 surcharge as many times as possible and consume the least possible fuel between jobs.
  2. Try to avoid the Congestion Charge zone altogether on days when you work shorter hours. If you get ride requests near the perimeter, ask if your passenger minds being picked up or dropped off a block early. Remind them that they can save £1 if you don’t enter the Congestion Charge zone.
  3. Study the street names and major intersections near the perimeter of the Congestion Charge Zone so you’re always aware of where it starts and finishes. It’s easy to overlook the road signs when you’re focused on the traffic.
  4. Consider driving more in the evening and at night. Between 6:00 pm and 7:00 am you don’t have to pay the Congestion Charge.

About Splend

We enable drivers to make money by driving. Our vision is a future where every on-demand driver can be successful.

We are PCO car hire specialists. We can help you get started as an on-demand driver, and set you up with a brand-new or new-model car on a Rent or Rent to buy plan. We also provide the training and support you need to become a more profitable, safer, fulfilled driver.

Drop by to our Member Support Centre at 393 Edgware Road Cricklewood, London, email us, or say hello on 0333 016 4331

AUTHOR

Balazs Szekely

Maker by nature, writer by profession, and a petrolhead at heart, Balazs is our very own content creator who brings Splend’s voice to life. He’s been a wordsmith his entire career, having seen it all from the print media to radio through online publishing and marketing copywriting. He’s fascinated by things he has yet to fully understand such as photography, ice hockey, and the bizarre art of aquascaping. In his free time you may find him mixing up cocktails for his friends or away from home on a city break. Drop him a line at balazs.szekely@splend.com

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