A lot of people worry about driving in London and no wonder – it’s a veritable maze of roads, roundabouts, roadworks and streets and that’s without adding in congestion zones and parking limits. Our drivers have to tackle London driving on a daily basis, so we’ve had to be effective at sorting out ways to navigate everything whilst still fulfilling our same day delivery promise.
There are 3 different congestion zones: the CCZ, the LEZ and the ULEZ. All are enforced by ANPR.
- The CCZ (Congestion Charge Zone) applies to all vehicles driving in central London. The aim is to stop heavy pollution from traffic in the city centre, as well as reduce high traffic flow.
- The LEZ (Low Emission Zone) covers most of Greater London and discourages heavy polluting diesel vehicles driving in the capital. Please note the LEZ charge does not apply to cars and motorbikes as it stands, but does apply to HGVs, lorries, vans, buses, coaches, minibuses and other specialist diesel vehicles.
- The ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emission Zone) was introduced only last year and applies to all vehicles driving in central London, although there are plans to extend this in 2021 to cover the North and South Circular.
- Motors driving in the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) in central London Mon-Fri 07:00-18:00 will be charged a set rate of £15 a day, and more if the vehicle does not meet ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emission Zone) standards. If drivers’ do not pay on the day, they will need to pay £17.50 by 12am on the 3rd day after travel. It should be noted that drivers only need to pay once per day regardless of how many times they drive in and out of the CCZ.
- LEZ charges are currently set to £100 per day for heavy polluting diesel vehicles that only meet euro IV/4 or V/5 emission standards. Vehicles that do not meet these will be charged £300 a day. There are no charges for vehicles that meet Euro VI/6 (NOx and PM) emission standards.
- ULEZ charges are payable in addition to CCZ charges if your vehicle does not meet ULEZ standards and were introduced with the aim of moving drivers over to Euro standard vehicles for low emissions. Current charges are set to an £12.50 per light vehicle (including cars, motorcycles and vans up to/including 3.5 tonnes). Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes do not need to pay ULEZ charges, as well as buses, coaches or minibuses or 5 tonnes. LEZ charges still apply.
CCZ charges do not apply:
- 18:00-07:00 on weekdays
- 18:00 – 12:00 on weekends
- Any time between Christmas Day and New Years Day (Dec 25-Jan 1)
LEZ charges apply at all times
ULEZ charges apply at all times except Christmas Day.
What are ULEZ standards?
In 2023, the ULEZ was expanded to cover all London boroughs. A full ULEZ map can be used online on the TfL website.
ULEZ standards are currently as follows:
- Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles (L category)
- Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles
- Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and minibuses and other specialist vehicles
- Euro VI (NOx and PM) for lorries, buses and coaches and other specialist heavy vehicles (NOx and PM)
You can use the TFL website to check if you need to pay here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone?intcmp=26434
Planning a Route
You can check whether your route will involve driving into the CCZ, ULEZ or LEZ zones using TFL’s interactive map: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/congestion-charge/congestion-charge-zone.
Paying the Charges
The best way to pay is to do it online in advance via the TFL website. You can pay for the previous day or dates in the future as long as you know the licence plate of the vehicle you will be using. This also applies to the separate ULEZ charge.
You can also choose an Auto Pay option which does give a benefit of a reduced daily charge for the CCZ – personal users can register up to 5 vehicles, and fleet users more. TFL Auto Pay.
If you have driven in any of the zones without paying in advance, you must make sure you pay it by midnight on the following charging day to avoid a penalty.
Getting stuck in roadworks is another worry, especially for a courier who is on the clock!
There’s a number of ways to divert around traffic delays caused by roadworks or accidents:
- Google Maps – this app is updated in real time and will automatically suggest the quickest route around any delays on route using the navigation option. It won’t tell you how to avoid the congestion zones though.
- The Congestion Zone App by London App Works will flag up if you drive into the CCZ and diarise them so you know when you entered and need to pay by. It is free to download with in app purchases available.
- AA Traffic – the AA does not give route guidance but will allow you to search by postcode to find any delays in the area.
- Highways England roadworks search – you can use this to plan around any roadworks on the route before you set off. You can search by affected road, region or placename/postcode.
Parking in London
Different areas of London are subject to different parking zones and prices, set by the relevant council for that borough. Street parking can be difficult, most areas charge between 8:30am – 6:30pm via parking meters for a set amount of time.
NCP and Q-Park operate car parks across London; Q-Park primarily in the centre. These are easier to find spaces in or pre-book, although typically charge more than on street parking.
Hiring out a driveway or designated parking space is becoming popular for London residents and many drivers look for these as a cheaper alternative to car parks with a guaranteed parking spot at the end of their journey. This is not a solution we use as couriers but may be useful for domestic drivers.
If you do park and don’t pay, then the typical fine ranges between £80-£130, with a 50% discount if you pay within 14 days. Each borough is different though, so you would have to contact them independently if you wished to dispute a fine.
There are a number of apps to help with London parking, including Parkopedia and JustPark.