How To Avoid Congestion Charges in London

Driving in London can be very challenging particularly if you have never experienced it before!  Remaining focused and calm is half the battle, the other half is to be aware of congestion charges within the city!  For further details please read on…

What are congestion charges?

Congestion charges were introduced on 17th February 2003 to relive the traffic situation in London.  The main aim was to encourage people to avail of public transport and to avoid taking the car, the congestion charges have proved very successful to date and operate very well in central London.

Congestion zones in London

The congestion charges take affect when vehicles enter the London central area.  The zones where the charges apply stretch from Marylebone to Euston Roads in the North, and Park Lane in the West to Kennington Lane, and from the New Kent Road in the South, to Tower Bridge Road and Commercial Street in the East.  In February 2007 the congestion zones were extended and now also take in the following areas: Bayswater, Notting Hill, North and South Kensington, High Street Kensington, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Belgravia and Pimlico.


The congestion charges apply between the hours of 7am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday and exclude public holidays.  The cost for one day is £8 if you pay before midnight on the day of travel.  You can also pay the following day at an increased cost of £10, this basically means next charging day, so, if you travel on a Friday you have until midnight on the Monday to pay the next day fee.

Payment methods

Methods of payment for congestion charges in London can be purchased in many ways, online, by SMS (text message), by phone, at a shop, garage, at a self-service machine or by post.

Ways to avoid the congestion charges

1.    There are certain types of vehicles that are automatically exempt and do not need to be registered, those exempt are as follows:

·    Two wheeled motorbikes (and sidecars), mopeds and bicycles.

·    Black cabs licensed with the Public Carriage Office or PCO.

·    Mini cabs licensed with the Public Carriage Office or PCO.

·    Emergency Service vehicles for example ambulances or fire engines.

·    NHS vehicles that are exempt from road tax.

·    Vehicles used by the disabled that are exempt from vehicle excise duty (road tax) under the ‘disabled’ class.

·    Vehicles for more than one disabled person (e.g. Dial-A-Ride) exempt from road tax.

·    Public transport vehicles with nine or more seats that are listed within the taxation classes Buses or Reduced Pollution Buses.

2.    All charging days that fall between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inclusive are designated non-charging days. Vehicles that drive within the zone on or between these dates will not incur the Congestion Charge.

3.    The congestion charges apply between the hours of 7am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday and exclude public holidays.  If you travel outside of these hours you will not incur a charge.

4.    Residents within the zones are entitled to a 90% discount and must register to avail of this discount.

5.    Blue Badge Holders are entitled to 100% discount and again must register.  Blue Badge Holders can nominate two vehicles in their name.

6.    Breakdown vehicle operators are eligible for 100% discount but again must register to qualify.

For further details, how to register, and all you need to know about congestion charges in London, check out the official website Transport for London website.

So if you’re planning a visit to London and need a car take a look at our car hire London page.

What do you think of the congestion charges? Have your say, please leave a comment in the comment box below.  Thank you.