ULEZ-exempt cars, vans & motorbikes: avoid the London ULEZ charge

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

BuyaCar team
Apr 8, 2019

Millions of drivers could find their cash evaporate like a cloud of exhaust smoke now that London's ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) has come into force, targeting diesel vehicles in particular.

Since April 8, the majority of diesel cars and vans currently on the road have been liable for the £12.50 daily fee, which comes on top of the Congestion Charge and operates for seven days a week.

The zone currently covers central London, with the same boundaries as the congestion zone. From 2021 it will expand enormously, covering the area within the north and south circular roads. 

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-exempt. If your vehicle doesn't qualify and you drive into the zone regularly, upgrading to a ULEZ-exempt vehicle could prove worthwhile - some van drivers could get a new van for the price of the daily charge.

  • The Euro 6 standard was introduced in September 2015 for cars and September 2016 for vans. Almost every car registered since that date will be exempt, as well as several vehicles that complied with the standard early.
  • Virtually all petrol cars under 12 years old, petrol vans under 11 years old and motorbikes registered after July 2007 are ULEZ-exempt. Electric vehicles are automatically exempt.

ULEZ-exempt 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-exempt 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. 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-exempt until October 2025.

Scroll down for more details of ULEZ-exempt cars, vans and motorbikes and the area where charges will operate or click below for more details on a particular type of vehicle.


ULEZ-exempt vehicles: full details and prices


Where do I need a ULEZ-exempt car?


ULEZ-exempt petrol cars

  • To be ULEZ-compliant, petrol cars must meet Euro 4 emissions standards
  • This includes virtually every petrol car registered since January 2006, including those that meet more recent Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards.

Around 12.7 million of the 18.3 million petrol cars on the road are 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.

BuyaCar only sells cars that are up to five years old, so every petrol model on the site is ULEZ-compliant. Prices start at £4,150, with finance payments from £69 per month. Prices are even cheaper for older models.


ULEZ-exempt diesel cars

  • Only Euro 6-compliant diesel cars are exempt from ULEZ charges
  • Almost every car registered since September 2015 meets the standard. Some earlier models do too.

Most diesel cars on the road have to pay to drive in the ULEZ. The latest Department for Transport statistics show that there are 12.9 million diesel cars on the road, and around 9.5 million were registered before Euro 6 became mandatory.

However, because several cars met the Euro 6 standard early, and several million have been sold since, prices are relatively affordable. Euro 6 diesel cars currently start at £5,446 on BuyaCar. Finance payments are from £88 per month.


ULEZ-exempt 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 £7,475 on BuyaCar - or from £143 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-exempt hybrid cars

  • Hybrid cars are treated the same as standard petrol or diesel cars
  • Most hybrid cars have a petrol engine, so they have to comply with Euro 4 regulations, which have applied since 2006
  • Diesel hybrids are only ULEZ-exempt if they meet Euro 6 standards, which came into force in September 2015

Unlike the Congestion Charge rules, 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 exempt. Prices start at £8,495 or from £111 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-exempt hybrid.


ULEZ-exempt 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. Not only do many drivers have little choice but to drive into the capital; they also need the most modern vehicles because most vans are diesel-powered.

Euro 6 standards only became mandatory for all new vans from September 2016, so any diesel van less than two-and-a-half years old may be liable for the charge.

There's increasing interest in petrol vans and electric vans, but competitive used diesel van prices, mean that upgrading can be affordable. Euro 6 diesel vans start at £4,990 from BuyaCar, with finance from £109 per month.


ULEZ-exempt motorbikes

  • Motorbikes, mopeds and quadricycles must meet Euro 3 standards to be ULEZ-exempt
  • Euro 3 became mandatory for these vehicles after 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's less than eleven years old and at least Euro 3 compliant.


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