London congestion charging

A step-by-step guide.

Transport for London
May 1 2003

London congestion charging

What is the congestion charge?
The congestion charge is a levy, initiated by the Mayor of London and administered by Transport for London (TfL), on each motor vehicle entering the designated charging zone. The scheme is designed to reduce traffic congestion in central London and comes into force on 17 February 2003. Not all drivers have to pay the congestion charge – exemptions and discounts are available to various categories of drivers, vehicles and individuals.

Why is congestion charging being introduced?

The movement of people and goods around London’s roads is so congested that many think that a radical solution is needed. If successful, it is expected by the Mayor and Transport for London that this scheme will: Cut traffic levels (measured in vehicle miles) within the charging zone by 10-15%. Cut congestion (measured in vehicle delays) within the zone by 20-30%. Make essential vehicle journeys and deliveries within the zone more reliable and efficient. Save two to three million driving hours per year within the zone and a further four to seven million driving hours on roads between the charging zone and the North and South Circular roads. Increase average traffic speeds in central London, which at present are less than ten miles per hour during the working day. Generate revenue for London ’s transport system.

Where is the charging zone and will I have to pay if I am driving on the boundary roads, but do not enter the zone?

The charging zone is approximately eight square miles and broadly covers the City and West End areas of London (see map page 7). There is no charge for using the charging zone’s boundary roads, but the charge is applicable once a vehicle enters the zone.

What is the start date for the congestion charge?

Congestion charging will apply from 17 February 2003. It will be applicable to traffic within the designated charging zone between 07.00 and 18.30 Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).

How much is the charge?

The charge is £5 per day and applies to each vehicle per day, allowing more than one trip by the same vehicle each day.

When and how do I pay and do I have to register with TfL?

The congestion charge can be paid any time up to midnight on the day of your journey (between 22.00 and midnight there is an additional £5 surcharge imposed to discourage payments late in the day), or up to 90 days before travelling to the zone.

Passes can be purchased on a weekly (£25), monthly (£110) or yearly (£1,250) basis.

Payment can be made at machines in car parks within the charging zone, at various retail outlets and petrol stations by cash, cheque or credit/debit card or by telephone to the Transport for London (TfL) Congestion Charging London Call Centre on 0845 900 1234.

A Fast Track Card is available and is designed to simplify and speed up the payment process. It does this by storing details such as vehicle registration numbers, protected by a PIN number of your choice.

Payment can also be made online by credit/debit card by accessing the TfL website:

You do not have to register with TfL unless you are in a category eligible for discounts. See the section “What if I live in the charging zone or am a disabled driver?”

Who is exempt from the charge?

Please note that the following vehicle users are not required to register with TfL in order to be eligible for exemptions:

Disabled drivers Disabled users of vehicles that are exempt from vehicle excise duty are not required to pay congestion charges (If you are a blue/orange badge holder, but your vehicle is not exempt from vehicle excise duty, please see the following section). Two-wheeled vehicles Two-wheeled vehicle (motorbikes, mopeds, scooters, bicycles) users are not required to pay congestion charges. Emergency services Police, ambulance, fire, lifeboat and any emergency service vehicles (including NHS vehicles exempt from vehicle excise duty), are not required to pay congestion charges. Taxis (black cabs and licensed minicabs), buses/coaches Black cabs registered with the Public Carriage Office Minicabs licensed with the Mayor of London Buses/coaches with nine or more seats that are registered as a public service vehicle with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Temporary diversions Vehicles sent into the congestion-charging zone on a temporary diversion are exempt from congestion charges, as long as they do not leave the official diversion route.

For additional information on exemptions, please refer to the TfL website:

What if I live in the charging zone or am a disabled driver?

Certain discounts are available for the following categories of vehicle users, who are initially required to register with TfL in order to be eligible for discounts:

Resident discounts (90% discount) Residents living within the area of London covered by congestion charging can register one private vehicle for a 90% discount for at least a one-week period. Proof of residency is required. Residents are required to pay an annual charge of £10. If completed registration forms are received by 26 January 2003, the £10 registration fee will be waived. To register, please refer to the TfL website: Disabled drivers (100% discount) Blue or orange badge holders, or drivers for disabled badge-holders, receive 100% discounts from congestion charges for up to two vehicles per day. Vehicles must be registered with TfL and a one-off £10 payment made. If completed registration forms are received by 26 January 2003, the £10 registration fee will be waived. To register, please email your name, address and blue/orange badge serial number to:

Other 100% discounts

Assuming the following vehicles are registered with TfL, users will be eligible for a 100% discount from congestion charges:

Certain NHS staff on call in emergencies NHS patients attending hospital appointments who are too ill or disabled to use public transport Fire-fighters on operational journeys between stations

Operational vehicles (100% discount)

Assuming the following vehicles are registered with TfL and an annual fee of £10 per vehicle paid, users will be eligible for a 100% discount from congestion charges:

Armed forces vehicles Port of London Authority, HM Coastguard and Royal Parks Agency vehicles Accredited breakdown/recovery vehicles Certain local authority vehicles

Vehicles using alternative fuel

Approved cars running on alternative energy sources (gas, electric, fuel cells and bi/dual fuel) are exempt from congestion charges. An approved supplier included on the Energy Saving Trust’s Transport Action Register (or an equivalent European Economic Area body) must convert the vehicle. To qualify for an exemption, commercial vehicles must comply with certain European emission standards. A verification charge of £10 and registration of the vehicle with TfL are required in order to qualify for this exemption. Smart cars are not covered by this exemption.

For additional information on discounts, please refer to the TfL website:

How can receipts and refunds be obtained?


A receipt number is issued each time the congestion charge is paid. The purchaser will need to keep a record of this to make any later query about the transaction. A written receipt can be sent to the purchaser if this is requested when the charge is paid. In retail outlets a receipt will be issued automatically.


There are no refunds for past unused days. If a monthly or annual congestion charge has been paid then the purchaser can apply for a refund for future unused days. Refunds are calculated from the number of whole charging days from and including the refund date multiplied by the cost for each of these days, less a £10 administrative charge. The start date of the refund must be a minimum of seven charging days from the receipt of your request by Transport for London. Requests for refunds must be accompanied with either the original payment receipt, or an original of your V5 registration document provided by the DVLA. Enquiries concerning refunds can be made to: Congestion Charging London, PO Box 2982, Coventry CV7 8XR. Tel: 0845 900 1234, Fax: 020 7649 9121.

Further details on refunds can be found on the TfL website:

How will the scheme be enforced?

The scheme will be enforced by a network of CCTV cameras both on the boundary and within the congestion charge zone that will record vehicle number plates. These records will be checked against a database of those who have registered to pay.

What are the penalties for non-payment?

Where the charge is not paid before midnight on the day a journey is made within the zone, the registered owner of the vehicle will be sent a Penalty Charge Notice of £80. This is reduced to £40 if the penalty charge is paid within 14 days, but rises to £120 if the Penalty Charge is not paid within 28 calendar days. Details of how to pay the charge appear on the Penalty Charge Notice.

If the penalty is not paid the Transport for London (TfL) authorities can clamp and remove the vehicle and owners would have to pay for clamp removal or to retrieve the vehicle from the pound. In the case of worst offenders vehicles can be sold or crushed and owners subject to court action.

What arrangements are available for businesses operating fleets of vehicles?

Transport for London (TfL) has special arrangements for fleet owning companies to reduce administration and details of these can be found on TfL’s website. Appropriate registration forms can be downloaded from this site. Website:

What is the budget for setting up the London congestion charging scheme?

The total budget given to Transport for London is £200 million, which includes £100 million of complementary traffic management measures within Greater London.

How much revenue will the congestion charge raise?

Transport for London envisage that the scheme will pay for itself within 18 months of start-up and that, during the first ten years, more than £1.3 billion will be generated for investment in the transport system of Greater London.

What plans have Transport for London put in place to cope with prospective increased numbers using public transport when the congestion charge is introduced?

London Buses are to provide 10,000 extra seats for passengers between 08.00 and 09.00 (the busiest hour) by providing 200 extra buses, more buses on busy routes, introducing new routes and by using double-decker buses on some routes currently served by single-deckers.

Have any other cities adopted such a scheme?

Durham, UK Durham is the first city in the UK to introduce a congestion charge with a limited scheme that began on 1 October 2002 and applies to only one thoroughfare, Sadler Street in the city centre. Motorists pay £2 to pass a barrier into the street and the scheme is administered by National Car Parks. The aim of the scheme is to reduce traffic on the historic “peninsula” site that contains the castle and cathedral and provide a better environment for pedestrians. The money raised will go towards providing a new bus service and scooters for the disabled.

Trondheim, Norway In order to fund new ring roads, Trondheim introduced a congestion charge scheme ten years ago. Car drivers pay 15 Norwegian kroner (about £1.30 British pounds), and lorry drivers twice this rate, in order to drive into the city centre. The scheme relies upon radio-wave technology and money is automatically deducted from the driver’s bank account each time they pass a tollbooth.

Singapore A daytime electronic congestion charge scheme was introduced to the city centre in 1998 (an earlier visual scheme was introduced as far back as 1975). As a result, fewer vehicles attempted to access central Singapore during peak times, as well as a reduced number of solo drivers. Traffic patterns shifted from peak to non-peak times.

Further information, useful addresses and web links on congestion charging in London:

Transport for London (TfL)

Official, dedicated website on congestion charging; can be used for payment and registration.

Telephone: 0845 900 1234 Fax: 020 7649 9121
Address: Congestion Charging London
PO Box 2985, Coventry CV7 8ZR

All operational correspondence should be sent to the above address

General TfL website:

This entry was posted in Toll roads. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s