ULEZ-compliant cars

Dodge the £12.50-per-day London emissions charge with these ULEZ-compliant cars, vans and motorbikes

BuyaCar team
Jul 15, 2021

Since April 8 2019, drivers of diesel cars and vans of a certain age - plus those with older petrol and diesel models - have been obliged to pay the 'ULEZ' charge if they venture into central London. The ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) was introduced to deter the use of vehicles producing a high level of pollution within central London - all in an attempt to reduce air pollution and protect the health of people living in this highly congested area.

The cars it targets are diesel models that do not comply with the latest 'Euro 6' emissions standards - along with petrol models that do not meet older 'Euro 4' standards - with drivers having to pay a £12.50 daily charge for driving within the ULEZ. The charge itself is enforced on top of the current £11.50 Congestion Charge and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making driving in London a much more costly affair.

Most affected by this new charge are diesel drivers, as only the very latest models produced since 2015 are guaranteed to comply with Euro 6 (there are a handful of pre-2015 models that meet Euro 6 standards) and be exempt from the charge. Meanwhile, petrol cars registered after 2005 should be exempt, along with a handful built between 2001 and 2005. We recommend that you confirm whether your car is ULEZ exempt prior to taking a trip into London regardless of what fuel you use to be sure. Check whether your car is ULEZ-compliant here.

ULEZ-compliant car deals
Nissan Leaf

Nissan LeafBuyaCar prices from £16,000
Monthly finance from £222*

Ford Fiesta

Ford FiestaBuyaCar prices from £7,999
Monthly finance from £151*

Kia Sportage

Kia SportageBuyaCar prices from £11,490
Monthly finance from £192*

Where do I need a ULEZ-compliant car?

The ULEZ zone covers central London, with the same boundaries as the congestion zone. From October 2021 it will expand enormously, covering the area within the north and south circular roads. That covers everything from Ealing in west London to East Ham on the other side of the city and Edmonton in the north to Clapham in the south.

Which cars are ULEZ-compliant?

The scheme is designed to improve London’s air quality, so only diesel vehicles that meet the latest emissions standards, known as Euro 6, will be ULEZ-compliant. If your vehicle doesn't qualify and you drive into the zone regularly, upgrading to a ULEZ-compliant vehicle could prove worthwhile - some van drivers could afford to finance a new van for less than the cost of the daily charge.

  • The Euro 6 standard was introduced in September 2015 for cars and September 2016 for vans. Almost every diesel car registered since that date will be compliant, as well as a handful of vehicles that complied with the standard early.
  • Virtually all petrol cars sold from 2005, plus some registered between 2001 and 2005, petrol vans sold after 2006 and motorbikes registered after July 2007 are ULEZ-compliant.
  • Electric vehicles are automatically compliant as they produce zero tailpipe emissions.

ULEZ-compliant cars will also avoid charges in clean air zones being set up from 2020 in cities that include Birmingham, Bath and Manchester. They will also escape a Glasgow ban on cars that fail to meet these minimum emission standards from 2022.

Some vehicles are ULEZ-compliant, despite not meeting emissions standards. These include cars built more than 40 years ago, with a historic tax class and some agricultural, military and circus vehicles. 

Additionally, anyone registered for a residents' Congestion Charge discount won't have to pay ULEZ charges until October 2021. Vehicles with a disabled or disabled passenger tax class are ULEZ-compliant until October 2025.

ULEZ-compliant petrol cars

  • To be ULEZ-compliant, petrol cars must meet Euro 4 emissions standards
  • This includes virtually every petrol car registered since January 2006
  • Cars that meet more recent Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards are also exempt from the charge

Around 12.7 million of the 18.3 million petrol cars on the road when the charge was introduced were already ULEZ compliant, according to Department for Transport figures.

This widespread availability means that it should be easy to find a cheap model that’s not subject to the London charge. Furthermore, with compliant cars dating back to 2006 and even 2001 in some cases, entry prices for petrol models that don't require you to pay the charge are far lower than for diesel models.

BuyaCar typically only sells cars that are up to seven years old, so every petrol model on the site is ULEZ-compliant. Prices start at £3,989, with finance from £80 per month.

ULEZ-compliant diesel cars

A large proportion of diesel cars on the road have to pay to drive into the ULEZ. Department for Transport statistics published at the introduction of the ULEZ charges show that there were 12.9 million diesel cars on the road with around 9.5 million of those being registered before Euro 6 became mandatory, meaning that drivers are likely to have to pay the ULEZ charge for those vehicles. 

Overall sales of diesel cars have seen a rapid decline in recent years as emissions restrictions have been tightened up and many drivers have chosen petrol cars that emit less of certain harmful pollutants or electric models. However, because a handful of diesel cars met the Euro 6 standard early, and many millions have been sold since, prices are relatively affordable if you know what you're looking for. Euro 6 diesel cars currently start at £4,900 on BuyaCar. Finance payments are from £97 per month.

ULEZ-compliant electric cars

  • All electric cars are exempt from ULEZ charges

Going electric is an easy way to instantly comply with ULEZ charges. You also won't need to worry about proposals for zero-emission zones, much further into the future. Electric car prices start at £6,458 on BuyaCar - or from £126 per month, although the very cheapest versions may include the tiny Renault Twizy or versions of the Renault Zoe that require batteries to be leased.

ULEZ-compliant hybrid cars

  • Hybrid cars are treated the same as standard petrol or diesel cars
  • Most hybrids have a petrol engine, so ULEZ-compliant ones have to meet Euro 4 standards, in force since 2006
  • Diesel hybrids are only ULEZ-compliant if they meet Euro 6 standards, in force from September 2015

ULEZ regulations don't offer any special treatment to hybrid vehicles. This isn't a problem for most owners because the vast majority of hybrid cars on the road are petrol-powered and meet Euro 4, 5 or 6 regulations, which makes them compliant. Prices start at £8,800 or from £149 per month.

There are a handful of diesel hybrid cars, sold in 2015 or before, which only meet Euro 5 regulations, so avoid these if you're looking for a ULEZ-compliant hybrid that helps you to avoid the £12.50 daily charge.

ULEZ-compliant vans

  • Diesel-powered vans will only avoid ULEZ charges if they are Euro 6-compliant
  • Almost every new van has had to be Euro 6-compliant since September 2016. Most built before then are not
  • Petrol vans only need to meet Euro 4 standards, which have applied to virtually every vehicle since 2007

Van drivers are among the hardest hit by the ULEZ charges. Not only do many drivers have little choice but to drive into the capital for work purposes, they also have to have the most modern vehicles to meet the ULEZ standards because most vans are diesel-powered.

Euro 6 standards only became mandatory for new vans from September 2016, so any diesel van built before this date may be liable for the charge.

There's increasing interest in petrol vans and electric vans, but relatively low used diesel van prices mean that upgrading to a reasonably new ULEZ-compliant diesel model can be affordable, too. Euro 6 diesel vans start at £6,995 from BuyaCar, with finance from £149 per month.

ULEZ-compliant motorbikes

  • Motorbikes, mopeds and quadricycles must meet Euro 3 standards to be ULEZ-compliant
  • Euro 3 became mandatory for these vehicles from July 2007

Despite having half the number of wheels as a car, non-compliant motorbikes and mopeds incur the same £12.50 ULEZ charge, so it's worthwhile finding one that was built after this date and is at least Euro 3 compliant.


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