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Driving in London in a van can be a tricky business in itself but it now also comes at a price following the introduction of the congestion charge in 2003
What you Need to Know about the Congestion Charge
Driving in London in a van can be a tricky business in itself but it now also comes at a price following the introduction of the congestion charge in 2003. Whether you’re a London van driver looking to refresh your knowledge or a regional van driver heading into the big smoke wanting to familiarise yourself with how the charge will affect you then this overview of the congestion charge should come in handy.
How does it work?
Cameras read the number plates of vehicles entering, driving within and exiting the congestion charge area and are checked against the database. If you haven’t paid, the registered vehicle keeper will receive a penalty charge notice. Failure to pay the penalty charge could result in further enforcement action being taken.
Who does it affect?
The congestion charge applies to vehicles driven within the charging zone during designated charging times.
Where does it apply?
The charge applies to areas within Central London as shown here: Congestion charging zone
How much is it?
The standard congestion charge varies depending on when you pay. Visit the TFL website for latest charges.
As highlighted below, discounts and exemptions are also applicable in certain circumstances.
Eligible residents will receive a 90% discount. You will need to register to qualify.
The following will receive a 100% discount. You will need to register to qualify.
- Blue Badge holders
- Accredited breakdown
- Alternative fuel vehicles
- Electrically propelled vehicles
- Vehicles with nine or more seats
- Motor tricycles
- Roadside recovery vehicles
The following vehicles are exempt and you are not required to register to qualify.
- Two wheeled motorbikes (and sidecars), mopeds and bicycles
- Black cabs licensed with the Public Carriage Office (PCO)
- Mini cabs licensed with the PCO
- Emergency Service vehicles - for example ambulances/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 (for example 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
Reductions may be available for those who wish to pay the congestion charge in advance and for fleets of vehicles.
If your future travel plans change after you have paid the congestion charge, then you can apply for a refund. You won’t, however, be able to claim a refund for unused days in the past or single or weekly pre-payments.
When does it apply?
0700–1800 Monday to Friday.
Non-charging times and days
- 1800–0700. Weekends. English Bank holidays. Designated non-charging days. Charging days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day (inclusive).
Where and when can you pay?
You can pay for the congestion charge up to 90 days in advance. There are various ways in which you can do this such as online, by post, by text message, over the phone, via an automated telephone service and in designated shops.
To find out the latest information on the congestion charge, visit the TFL website: We hope that you have an enjoyable and safe journey when in Central London. Before you set off, don’t forget to make sure that you have suitable van insurance.
The information contained within this article is for general information purposes only, it does not constitute advice. Direct Line endeavours to keep the information up to date and correct but does not make any representation or warranties of any kind about its completeness, accuracy, reliability or suitability. Any reliance you place on the information is strictly at your own risk. Direct Line will not be liable for any direct or indirect loss or damage arising out of or in connection with the use of this information.
Van expert Peter Lee is the founder of the Transit Van Club.
To find out more and for Peter's tips and guidance on everything from buying a van to maintaining one, click here.