Clean air zone-exempt cars

Dodge inner-city emission charges with a clean air zone-exempt car

John Evans
Jan 31, 2019

Clean air zones, also called ultra low emission zones, are coming to a city near you. Starting this April, drivers of older, more polluting cars wishing to enter London’s ultra-low emission zone located in the centre of the capital will have to pay £12.50 a day.

Birmingham is likely to be next, in 2020, followed by up to a dozen more cities around the UK including Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton. See the proposed zones on our clean air zone map.

Trucks and buses are likely to be singled out for the charges in these other cities but certainly in London and Birmingham, car drivers can expect to pay as well.

In these cities, diesel cars that do not meet the current Euro 6 emissions regulations that became mandatory from September 2015, and petrol cars older than 12 years, will pay the charges.

There are still lots of pre-Euro 6 diesel and older petrol cars on the roads, meaning many drivers are going to feel the effects of the new charges in their pockets.

Fortunately, for not much additional cost, they can upgrade to a newer and cleaner car, and avoid the charges completely.

Better still, by driving some petrol-hybrid cars or an electric car not only can they avoid the clean-air zone charge but also any congestion charges, too.

Find information on cars that are exempt from the clean air zone charges below or discover great deals on Euro 6 cars by clicking the box.

Clean air zone-exempt cars

Petrol cars less than 12 years old

  • Clean air zone-exempt petrol cars Vehicles meeting Euro 4 standard (all cars since January 2006)

Low emission or clean air zones are being created to rid major cities of the harmful gases, including nitrogen oxide, and the small exhaust deposits called particulates that can be fatal to people.
Diesel cars are the worst culprits in this respect which is why drivers of the dirtiest must pay to enter clean air zones. With the exception of older models, petrol cars are much cleaner, so their drivers can enter without paying.
Those petrol cars attracting the charge are likely to be over 12 years old but will be exempt if they comply with the Euro 4 emissions standard that was then in force and which predates standards 5 and 6.

Diesel cars registered in the last three years

  • Clean air zone-exempt diesel cars Vehicles meeting Euro 6 standard (all cars registered since September 2015)

Almost 10 million diesel cars registered before September 2015, when the current Euro 6 emissions regulations came into force, will be liable for the clean air zone charge.
Those registered since that time and which are Euro 6 compliant, will escape it. To find out when your diesel car was registered, check its V5 registration document for its date of first registration.

Don't worry if your diesel car was registered before September 2015. Some diesel models became Euro 6 compliant before that date and will also be exempt from any charges. Find their details below.

Older diesel cars that comply with Euro 6 emissions standards

Virtually any diesel car registered from September 2015 will comply with the Euro 6 emissions standard and be exempt from the clean air zone charges.

Even then, there are some cars registered earlier that also comply with the standard and so, being older, may be cheaper or better value, too.

They include the Mazda CX-5, which has been Euro 6 complaint since as far back as 2012, and some versions of the Audi A3, Mercedes A-Class and Vauxhall Astra that became compliant between 2013 and 2014. For the full picture, see our list of Euro 6 diesels registered before September 2015.

A word or two of warning, though. As they were phased out, some older Euro 5 versions were sold alongside these early Euro 6 diesels. To avoid slipping up and buying the wrong car, take a note of its registration number and check if it can enter London’s ultra low emission zone without charge.


Read more about:

Latest advice

  1. 2020 Nissan Juke: new vs used

  2. 2019 Peugeot 208: new vs used

  3. 2019 Vauxhall Astra: new vs used

What our customers say