ULEZ-compliant cars: dodge London's £12.50 emission charge

Choose a ULEZ-compliant car, van or motorbike and avoid the £12.50 daily emission charge

BuyaCar team
Apr 8, 2019

Drive into central London with the wrong car and you could find yourself hit with a bill for £24 per day, thanks to the introduction of the new ultra low emission zone (ULEZ).

The new charge came into force on April 8, targeted mainly at diesel vehicles, in an effort to improve air quality.

The majority of diesel cars and vans on the road don't meet the zone's minimum emission standards, and are subject to the £12.50 daily charge, which comes on top of the capital's £11.50 Congestion Zone fee. Some petrol cars, vans and motorbikes that are more than 12-13 years old are affected too.

Even if you avoid the small congestion zone in the middle of the capital, where ULEZ rules will initially apply, you could be affected in 2021 when the zone expands enormously to cover most of Greater London (see map below).

Fortunately, finding a ULEZ-compliant car is easy and more affordable than you might realise. 

  • Every brand new car is exempt from the ULEZ charge.
  • Almost every petrol car that's less than 12 years old, every petrol van under 11 years old, and every motorbike on the road since July 2007 is ULEZ-compliant.
  • Diesel drivers will be hit hardest by ULEZ charges: only diesel vehicles that meet the latest Euro 6 emissions standards are compliant. But prices for used models are falling as more become available. Virtually every new diesel car has been compliant since September 2015 (and several before that).
  • The Euro 6 standard only became mandatory for all diesel vans from September 2016, so there are limited stocks of used vans that are ULEZ-compliant. 
  • Electric cars are ULEZ-compliant.

Buying a ULEZ-compliant car won't just have benefits in London. They will also avoid similar clean air charges around the country, which will start to appear from 2020, these include proposed schemes in Birmingham, Derby and Newcastle.

Scroll down for full details and the prices for ULEZ-compliant cars and vans, or click below for the latest deals on ULEZ-compliant vehicles.

ULEZ-compliant cars and vans: latest prices


ULEZ zone map: where you need a compliant vehicle


ULEZ-compliant petrol cars

  • Most petrol cars are ULEZ-compliant, as they only need to meet Euro 4 emissions standards
  • Almost every new car has had to meet this standard since January 2006. More recent cars are even cleaner, reaching Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards.

The majority of the 18.3 million petrol cars on the road are already compliant; at least 12.7 million of them meet at least Euro 4 standards, according to the Department for Transport. This means that finding an affordable ULEZ-compliant petrol car should be simple.

Every petrol car sold by BuyaCar is ULEZ-compliant. Only cars that are less than five years old are listed on the site. Prices start at £4,001, with finance payments from £71 per month. Prices are even cheaper for older models.


ULEZ-compliant diesel cars

  • Diesel cars must be Euro 6-compliant to avoid ULEZ charges.
  • Almost every car registered since September 2015 has had to meet the standard, and many earlier models do too.

Around 9.5 million of the 12.9 million diesel cars in Britain were on the road before Euro 6 standard became mandatory. Some of them complied early, but the majority don't meet the latest emissions standards, so owners face ULEZ charges.

But as virtually every car under three years old are Euro 6-rated, it's increasingly easy to find a used model for a reasonable cost. Euro 6 diesel cars currently start at £5,199 on BuyaCar. Finance payments are from £103 per month. Failing this, there's always the option of finding a cheaper petrol model. 


ULEZ-compliant electric cars

  • Every electric car complies with the ULEZ criteria and is exempt from charging

Finding a ULEZ-compliant electric car is not difficult: they all are. You'll also be immune from future charges in smaller zero-emission zones. Electric car prices start at £4,800 on BuyaCar - or from £95 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 must meet the same emissions standard as a conventional petrol or diesel car
  • Petrol hybrid cars - which make up the majority of hybrid vehicles on the road, must only comply with Euro 4 regulations, which have applied since 2006
  • You'll need a Euro 6-compliant diesel hybrid car to avoid ULEZ charges came into force in September 2015

Most hybrid cars are ULEZ-compliant, as the majority have a petrol engine, in addition to an electric motor, and only need to meet the old Euro 4 standard. Be cautious with diesel hybrids, though. Despite their green image, some early models, sold before September 2015, produced levels of emissions that were too high for Euro 6 compliance, and so owners face the ULEZ charge. Prices start at £7,695 or from £137 per month.


ULEZ-compliant vans

  • Only Euro 6-compliant diesel vans will avoid ULEZ charges
  • Euro 6 standards only became mandatory for all new vans since September 2016. Most earlier models are not Euro 6-rated.
  • As with cars, petrol vans only need to meet Euro 4 standards. Virtually every new van has done so since 2007.

Van drivers are bearing the brunt of ULEZ charges, as so many of the vehicles currently on the road are not ULEZ-compliant. And as a large number of drivers can't avoid taking their van into the capital, the charge may be difficult to avoid.

Upgrading to a Euro 6 diesel van will require a relatively modern vehicle, because the standard only became mandatory fairly recently; any diesel van less than two-and-a-half years old may be liable for the charge.

However, a van scrappage scheme has been launched to help some businesses upgrade, and even without this, it could be cheaper to get a new van than to regularly pay the £12.50 ULEZ charge.

Alternatively, there are petrol vans and electric vans to consider. Euro 6 diesel vans start at £6,490 from BuyaCar, with finance from £139 per month.


ULEZ-exempt motorbikes

  • Motorbikes were ULEZ-compliant if they meet Euro 3 standards. The same applies to mopeds and quadricycles.
  • New vehicles in these categories have had to be Euro 3-compliant since July 2007.

They may be a fraction of the size of cars and vans but motorbikes and mopeds will still incur a £12.50 ULEZ charge if they aren't compliant with the emissions standard. Any bike that's under eleven years old should meet the Euro 3 standard, at least. In some cases, earlier bikes will also qualify if they have an official emissions statement that shows Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions are below 0.15g/km.



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