What is the Congestion Charge?

The Congestion Charge is a £15 daily charge for driving in Central London during daytime hours (7:00 am to 6:00 pm), aimed to reduce traffic congestion in and around the charging zone.

Since October 2021, only fully electric cars are allowed in the Congestion Charge Zone free of charge.

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?

If you pay in advance or on the same day, TfL charges you £15 for every day you enter the charging zone during operating hours. Otherwise, TfL charges £17.5  by midnight of the third charging day after you travel.

What time is the Congestion Charge?

The Congestion Charge is between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday to Friday and between 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm Saturday, Sunday, and on bank holidays.

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
Luckily, London authorities provide easy methods to pay fees such as the Heathrow Charge or Congestion Charge:

  • online – from your London Road User Charging account.  If you don’t have one yet, you can register here.
  • via Auto Pay, TfL’s automated payment system, for an annual registration fee of £1. per car. Once registered, TfL automatically checks whether you need to pay the Congestion Charge and ULEZ charge, and if you drive within the zone, it will automatically charge you via your Auto Pay service.

Auto Pay is the method also 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 £15 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?

No. Starting with October 2021, only fully electric cars are exempt from the Congestion Charge. This means that if you drive a combustion-engined car –including hybrids. you will have to pay the fee if you drive into central London during hours of operation.

Are electric cars exempt from the Congestion Charge?

Yes. You can drive electric cars for Uber in London without paying the Congestion Charge 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.

Remember that congestion is not the same as pollution. While the Congestion Charge might come back for EV drivers too, greener technologies will always be preferred, and thus, incentivised. Driving an electric car for Uber will always be cheaper than a petrol-only, or even a hybrid.

 

With the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Premium, you can drive anywhere free of charge.
Get yours on our Flexi own plan for £249 per week.

 

Do I need to pay the congestion charge on a bank holiday?

No. The Congestion Charge is free all day long on bank holidays and between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

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 ends. It’s easy to overlook the road signs when you’re focused on the traffic.
  4. Consider driving more in the evening or 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’re PCO car 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 our Flexi or Flexi own plans. 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