The Low Emission Zone (LEZ) was set up to encourage the most polluting heavy diesel vehicles driving in the Capital to become cleaner. It covers most of Greater London and operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
When does it operate?
The LEZ operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including weekends and public and Bank Holidays.
Charging days run from midnight to midnight. So, if you were to drive within the LEZ between 23:30 and 01:00 the next day, you’d need to pay for two days.
Vehicles parked in the zone but not driving are not subject to the LEZ requirements for that day.
Remember, the LEZ isn’t the same as the central London Congestion Charge zone.
The Congestion Charge applies 07:00-18:00 Monday to Friday, excluding public and Bank Holidays. If you drive within the charging zone during these times you will have to pay the Congestion Charge, even if you meet the LEZ emissions standards and have paid the LEZ daily charge.
Where does it operate?
The LEZ covers most of Greater London.
All roads within Greater London, those at Heathrow and parts of the M1 and M4 are included. However, the M25 is not included (even where it passes within the GLA boundary). Look out for signs at the boundary and side of the road to see where it applies.
You will also need to pay the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge if you don't meet the ULEZ standards - the ULEZ operates at the same times as the LEZ.
How does it operate?
There are no barriers or toll booths within the LEZ. Instead, cameras will read your number plate as you drive within the LEZ and check it against our database of registered vehicles.
This database is compiled using information from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA), generic vehicle weight data typical of the make and model, and drivers and operators who have registered with us.
This tells us automatically whether your vehicle meets the LEZ emissions standards, is exempt, is registered for a discount, or if you’ve already paid the daily charge.
Vehicles registered outside GB
If you’re driving a vehicle registered outside Great Britain (this includes vehicles registered in Northern Ireland), you’ll need to register it with us to let us know that it meets the LEZ emissions standards so we can add your vehicle to our database.
It’s important that you do this, because if you drive in the LEZ without registering, even if your vehicle meets the standards, you’ll have to pay the daily charge, or may receive a Penalty Charge Notice.
Future changes to LEZ and ULEZ
By reducing traffic pollution, our aim is to improve the health and quality of life of everyone visiting, working in or living in London.
The Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy published in December 2010 has more information about the link between particulate matter and health.
Despite significant improvements in recent years, London’s air pollution is still a concern. So, in January 2012, the LEZ emissions standards became more stringent. More vehicles are affected, and those that were already affected need to meet tighter emissions standards.
In February 2013, the Mayor announced that the next phase of the LEZ will only apply to the buses we operate in 2015. Operators of diesel lorries and coaches do not need to take any action.
Previously it was proposed that all buses, coaches and lorries would need to meet a London-wide standard for emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in 2015. Applying this standard to our buses only will still deliver 75% of the benefits of the original proposal while saving operators £350m in avoided costs which would have been required to clean up their vehicles under the original proposal.
In addition to the existing LEZ emissions standards operating across most of Greater London, a phased implementation of tighter emissions standards will affect different vehicle types and different geographical areas within London.
From 26 October 2020
Emissions standards, daily charges and penalties will change for lorries, buses, coaches, and other specialist vehicles over 3.5 tonnes being used within the LEZ. (Vehicles that comply with ULEZ will already meet the tighter emissions standards.)
From 25 October 2021
The ULEZ boundary around central London will be extended to create a larger zone bounded by the North and South Circular Roads. If you drive any vehicle within this enlarged area you will need to meet new tighter emissions standards or pay a daily charge. This daily charge is in addition to the weekday Congestion Charge.
Non-road mobile machinery
We also need to reduce emissions from non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) to protect and improve Londoners' health.
A NRMM LEZ sets minimum emissions standards for machinery used on construction sites. More information is on the NRMM London website.