Road User Charging

Road User Charging (RUC) is the collective term we use to describe the following schemes that operate in London:

  • The Congestion Charge
  • The Low Emission Zone (LEZ)
  • The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)
  • The van and minibus scrappage scheme
  • The ULEZ car and motorcycle scrappage schemes 
  • TfL also enforces certain road traffic contraventions

Personal information we hold

The personal information we hold will vary depending on your relationship with us.

For example, if you:

  • have a RUC account
  • have applied for a RUC discount or exemption
  • have paid the daily charge for one of the RUC schemes
  • have been issued with a Penalty Charge Notice
  • have applied for one of the scrappage schemes

Information we hold may include:

  • Title, name, address, email address, telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Payment card details and/or bank account number and sort code
  • Password/memorable information
  • V5C document or overseas equivalent
  • Vehicle Registration Marks (VRM)
  • Date, time and location a vehicle has been captured by a camera
  • Photographs or CCTV footage of your vehicle
  • Transaction/payment history
  • Proofs of eligibility for a discount or exemption
  • Proofs of eligibility for the scrappage scheme
  • Details of your TfL Private Hire Licence (where applicable)
  • Correspondence, complaints and enquiries
  • Call recordings 
  • Web chat transcripts

Legal basis for using your information

Under data protection legislation, TfL is only allowed to use personal information if we have a proper reason or 'legal basis' to do so. In the case of Road User Charging, there are a number of these 'legal grounds' we rely on, which are:

  • Our statutory and public functions:
    • to undertake activities to promote and encourage safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities and services, and to deliver the Mayor's Transport Strategy;
    • TfL has specific statutory powers to operate the various Road User Charging schemes in London which include administering the various daily charges as well as the  issue and enforcement of Penalty Charge Notices;
    • TfL's use of ANPR cameras for the operation and enforcement of Road User Charging Schemes is also recognised under various statutory regulations.
  • For the 'performance of a contract:'
    •  for example, where you have opened an account  to register for a discount, use the Auto Pay service; or apply to the scrappage scheme or
    • you have downloaded the app so we can provide additional services to you
  • Where you have given your consent to TfL:
    • for example where you have opted in to receive marketing messages from us or asked the contact centre to resolve an issue or complaint for you.

How we use your personal information

Roadside cameras

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras operate 24 hours a day. They capture information whenever a vehicle travels within the Road User Charging zone. This includes an alpha-numeric 'read' of a Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM) and a photographic (still) image of a vehicle.

Our IT system checks whether the appropriate road user charge is applicable and has been paid for that particular vehicle, or if it is eligible for a discount or exemption.

Once we have verified that no charge is applicable or the appropriate charge has been paid or a discount/exemption applies, the images are deleted. Please see our section on Police access to ANPR cameras further down this page for information on how the police use ANPR data and vehicle images. 

If the charge remains unpaid, TfL will retain the VRM for enforcement purposes. We also retain photographic images from one location where the vehicle was seen, to prove entry into the relevant charging area and record the date and time your vehicle was seen. In the case of vehicles registered to an autopay service, VRMs and images are retained for the purposes of statement generation and account settlement.

Images of traffic contraventions are captured by operators using CCTV cameras.

RUC accounts

You will need to register with us and create an account if you wish to:

  • benefit from Auto Pay
  • apply for a RUC discount
  • apply for one of the vehicle scrappage schemes

You also need to register if you have a vehicle that is listed by us as not meeting LEZ or ULEZ emissions standards, but you can provide evidence that it does.

As a registered customer, we may also send you travel related information about Road User Charging schemes operating in London. This could include information about proposed changes, or updates on the level of charges or hours of operation. We might also contact you about major events that could affect drivers, such as road closures and diversions.

You will be able to unsubscribe from any or all of these messages at any time.

We will only send you information about TfL's offers and promotions if you choose to receive it. You will be able to change your marketing preferences at any time.

We will not pass your personal information on to any other organisation for marketing purposes without your prior consent. In addition we do not sell or rent personal data to third parties for this purpose.

Paying a daily charge

You don't need to be a registered customer to pay a daily charge for one of the RUC schemes. You can pay online and by phone without registering. If you pay this way, the only information we need is your payment card details and the VRM of the vehicle you're paying for.

You can choose whether to provide an email address or mobile phone number so we can send you a receipt. Once we have verified that the charge has been paid the images of the vehicle that has been paid for are deleted.

Enforcement

If a vehicle is registered in the UK, and an applicable charge has not been paid, TfL will obtain the details of the registered keeper from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and then issue a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). If a vehicle is registered overseas, we will obtain details of the registered keeper from the relevant official national or regional vehicle licensing authority.

If you fail to pay your PCN, we may apply to the Traffic Enforcement Centre at Northampton County Court to register the money owed as a debt, which allows us to take further steps to recover it. In order to do this we will share details of your PCN and other relevant information with them. We will send you a copy of the information at the same time.

If your PCN continues to be unpaid, we may pass the unpaid debt to an enforcement agent to collect the money owed on TfL's behalf. As part of their activities, the enforcement agents may undertake certain checks to establish how likely it is they will be able to recover the debt from you. These are also known as 'propensity to pay' checks. They involve the enforcement agents matching/checking the data of the registered keeper of the vehicle (who is liable to pay the PCN) with external data sources, including address and phone number databases, social media activity and email addresses. TfL works with debt recovery companies both in the UK, and overseas.

In cases where we have issued a PCN in relation to a hire vehicle, we may receive information from the hire company that demonstrates you were in possession of the vehicle on the date the contravention occurred, and are therefore liable to pay the PCN.

If you appeal against a PCN issued by TfL to the Environment and Traffic Adjudicators, or to the Road User Charging Adjudicators we will send them relevant information so that they can make their adjudication. We will send you a copy of this appeal pack at the same time.

TfL randomly selects and monitors vehicles benefitting from a road user charging discount or exemption, to identify possible fraud. If you persistently fail to pay any road user charges due or attempt to defraud TfL, we may record your vehicle's movements and use that data to support subsequent enforcement action.

If you hold a TfL Private Hire licence and you persistently fail to pay Penalty Charge Notices related to a private hire vehicle, we may share and validate the vehicle number plate, PCN and name and address details with the records that TfL's Taxi and Private hire department holds for you. This is for the purpose of enforcing our Road User Charging schemes, collecting unpaid PCN monies owed to us and to ensure your ongoing fitness to hold a private hire licence.  

Traffic monitoring

We also use our ANPR cameras and the VRMs captured for traffic monitoring and research.

This includes:

  • analysing the types of vehicles on London's roads
  • analysing numbers of vehicles on London's roads
  • measuring average journey times to assess levels of congestion on key routes
  • monitoring the impact of specific roadworks on journey times

When doing this, we replace the VRM with an alternative set of letters and numbers. This is called 'pseudonymisation' and is a way of distinguishing vehicles in a dataset by using a unique identifier that does not reveal its 'real world' identity. This is a way of protecting people's privacy in line with the Information Commissioner's Anonymisation Code of Practice.

Length of time we keep information

  • Details of each charge payment: 24 months from the date of the transaction (regardless of whether or not you are a registered customer)
  • Vehicle images are automatically deleted 21 days after payment of the charge has been received and verified or when we have verified that your vehicle is registered for a discount or exemption
  • For Autopay customers, ANPR data and images are retained until after the account has been settled, usually a maximum period of two months
  • Details of a discount are retained for 24 months after the date the discount expires
  • Details of a PCN are retained for seven years after you paid the PCN (this will include images of the vehicle you were driving)
  • Details of a successful scrappage scheme application is retained for up to 10 years (in line with State Aid rules)
  • Recordings of telephone calls made to our Road User Charging contact centre are retained for 90 days from the date of the call
  • Web chat transcripts are retained for 90 days from the date the online chat took place

We retain your personal information for these time periods for the following reasons:

  • To respond to correspondence, concerns or complaints
  • To maintain records according to rules that apply to us (for example financial regulations)
  • To establish and defend any legal rights

Keeping personal information secure

We take the privacy of our customers very seriously, and a range of robust policies, processes and technical measures are in place to control and safeguard access to, and use of, personal information associated with Road User Charging schemes. This includes payment card data which is handled in accordance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard ('PCI DSS').

Find out how to protect your personal information.

Automated processing and profiling

Under data protection legislation we have to let you know when we do something 'automatically' using our computers or other systems, or make an automated decision (without human intervention) that significantly affects you.

When you drive within the Congestion Charge Zone, Ultra Low Emission Zone or Low Emission Zone, your vehicle's VRM is automatically captured by the road side cameras as described above.

The level and type of charge is automatically determined using details of the vehicle, as provided by the relevant vehicle licensing agency and/or by the customer.

Details of the registered keeper are also automatically retrieved from the DVLA (or overseas licensing agency) so that a PCN can be issued.

Before any PCN is processed, the details captured by the camera are manually checked by an individual. This check requires the operator to validate the VRM being used for the PCN against the vehicle images captured by the camera and cross referencing against the vehicle make, model and colour details. Each potential PCN is also checked by a second individual. If the two individuals do not agree then the case is escalated to a supervisor for a final decision.

Sharing your information

TfL has contracts with a number of third party service providers, which provide the majority of the administration and 'back office' services that ensure the efficient day-to-day operation of the Road User Charging schemes and the scrappage scheme. This includes the customer database, the installation and maintenance of the cameras, the secure IT connection to the DVLA and debt recovery services within the UK and overseas.

Different departments within TfL share information to help ensure compliance with our Road User Charging schemes - as well to monitor the effectiveness of the different schemes.

This includes details of vehicles and drivers licensed for private hire by TfL which may have accrued unpaid PCNs. This helps us ensure we have the correct address details for the registered keeper. Unpaid PCNs may also be a breach of private hire licensing conditions.

As well as our own 'in house' traffic monitoring, we sometimes work with external research companies. We ensure that research is carried out in accordance with privacy and data protection legislation and is protected by robust confidentiality agreements.

If you have a query about your account, a service for which you have registered, or a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) you have received and would like a third party to contact us on your behalf, we will generally only deal with them with your written permission.

If you make an application to one of our vehicle scrappage schemes we may share or request information about you from other local authorities or organisations in order to verify your eligibility to receive a payment.

In addition to the real-time access described below by which the MPS has to TfL's ANPR cameras, we may, at our discretion, disclose personal data in response to valid requests from the police. Before we authorise any disclosure the police have to demonstrate that the personal data concerned will assist them in the prevention or detection of a specific crime, or in the apprehension or prosecution of an offender. Each request from the police is dealt with on a strictly case-by-case basis to ensure that any such disclosure is lawful and in accordance with data protection legislation. These requests may ask for the disclosure of images captured by our ANPR cameras or for data and images from cameras installed for the expansion of ULEZ in 2021, neither of which form part of the data to which the MPS currently has real-time access (see further below).

Overseas processing

TfL and its service providers process personal information relating to Road User Charging within the UK and the European Economic Area (EEA). Any such processing will be carried out in strict accordance with UK and EU privacy legislation and the appropriate contractual safeguards which TfL has put in place.

Some of our testing activities take place by permitting our suppliers to have remote access to specific data used for this purpose from off shore locations. These include Argentina, Cyprus, India and Israel. Any such access is managed in accordance with contractual obligations and UK data protection legislation. 

Police access to ANPR cameras

In 2012, one of the then Mayor of London's commitments was to instruct TfL to give the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) direct real time access to the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras we use to enforce our Road User Charging schemes, for the purposes of preventing and detecting crime. Following a public consultation, the MPS was given access to this data in 2015. A Mayoral Delegation (MD) was granted to TfL so that we had the powers to provide access. In effect, this means that TfL and the MPS share the vehicle number plate data feed from the network of Road User Charging cameras which TfL operated at that time.

This was an expansion of a pre-existing arrangement with the MPS established in 2007, under which they were given access to TfL's ANPR data specifically for the purpose of using it to safeguard national security. This arrangement was approved by the then Home Secretary, who signed a certificate confirming that TfL, and the MPS, are exempt from certain provisions of data protection legislation for that purpose.

In light of TfL's expansion of the ULEZ to the boundaries of the North and South Circular roads in 2021, TfL entered into discussions with the MPS on granting access to those additional cameras installed for the expansion, for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime.  An updated MD was signed by the Mayor of London in May 2022 in order to enable this. The Mayoral Delegation also:

•    enables the MPS to receive a feed of still photographic images of vehicles captured by the ANPR cameras that the MPS was already receiving the vehicle number plate data feed from (no images were transferred before this MD was issued); 

•    and, in principle, allows future ANPR cameras installed by TfL for specified road user charging schemes to come within scope of the sharing arrangement (subject to the MPS completing appropriate strategic assessments to demonstrate that access to any or all additional cameras is proportionate and necessary, and compliance with data protection, and equalities obligations). 

The MPS has completed an initial Data Protection Impact Assessment and Equality Impact Assessment and undertaken a number of public engagement activities.  

In exceptional circumstances or to ensure the security of high risk events, TfL may also allow MPS access to vehicle image data from specified ANPR cameras, where the MPS is able to demonstrate that there is a need for the purpose of policing such incidents or safeguarding such events.

Learn more about how the MPS uses ANPR cameras.
 

Mobile app

If you download and use the Road User Charging mobile app, certain information may be collected automatically, such as the type of mobile device you are using and unique identifier such as the device name or ID, Internet Protocol (IP) address, Media Access Control (MAC) address, and IMEI number.

We also use analytics (which is similar to cookies on websites) which are small files that capture anonymous data to help us improve the app's performance. We use them to collect information about your use of the app, such as what app content you access most frequently, or if you receive an error message when using the app.

If you opt in, we will also send you notifications via the app, or use location services to provide you with relevant information about your use of the scheme. You can change your mind at any time by amending the settings within your device

Testing, research and development

From time to time we may use certain vehicle data in order to help us test the performance and capacity of our infrastructure, investigate new technologies and to research and develop more accurate or more efficient ways of implementing road user charging. This supports our statutory function to provide efficient and economic transport facilities and services, and to deliver the Mayor's Transport Strategy. 

Wherever we can, we will use pseudonymised or 'dummy' data but sometimes, when there is no other alternative, we need to use 'real life' VRMs that have been captured by our network of ANPR cameras. When we undertake such activities, we take great care to ensure that we use the minimum possible data and also that our development team does not have any access to other information that could link the VRM to a registered keeper. Data used for a research and development purpose will not be used to take, or inform, decisions affecting individuals.

On some occasions we might have to keep VRM data for a longer period than we would normally for the operation of our road user charging schemes.  When that is the case, we will ensure that the data cannot be used for any other purpose other than for research and development and that it is stored securely with restricted access.

We will also ensure that we complete a Data Protection Impact Assessment when we use need to use personal data for research and development purposes and will publish these where possible.
 

The Ultra Low Emission Zone

On 25 October 2021, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)  expanded to create a single larger zone, up to the boundaries of the North and South Circular roads (also referred to as the Inner London ULEZ) 

The scheme is enforced in the same way as our other road user charging schemes, using a network of roadside ANPR cameras.  New road signs are in place on the new boundary of the ULEZ, as well as within the zone, so you will know if you are in an enforcement area.  

Before the scheme formally began, the cameras were used to test the technical infrastructure that links the camera network to the Road User Charging back office systems and also ensure that cameras were capturing vehicle data correctly and at the right volumes 

We also used the cameras for business planning purposes (eg resourcing and system capacity requirements) traffic monitoring (using pseudonymised data as described above on this page) as well as to inform our awareness campaign for the expanded zone

To ensure our approach to the expansion of the ULEZ properly considered all the privacy and data protection issues, we completed a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA), which we published. We updated the DPIA in April 2021 to cover some new activities around camera testing that took place before the scheme went live, and again in April 2022 to cover the subsequent retention of that testing data.

In May 2022, we launched a consultation on a proposal to further expand the ULEZ London-wide (to the same area as covered by the Low Emission Zone).  We have conducted a draft DPIA to consider the potential privacy issues connected to administering a larger zone. We will review the DPIA and update as necessary once the outcomes and results of the consultation are known later in the year.

Inner London ULEZ expansion mail-outs

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expanded to the boundaries of the North and South Circular roads on 25 October 2021. In order to raise awareness ahead of the expansion, we contacted people in two different ways.

Existing Road User Charge customers

We actively contacted people who were existing congestion charge or low emission zone customers and who we held an email address for. We provided information about the ULEZ expansion and provided advice about what to do if you may be affected.

Other drivers

We began contacting the registered keepers of other vehicles that might be affected by the expanded ULEZ from January 2021. We did this by checking the number plate of a vehicle to see whether it is compliant with the emissions standards for the LEZ or ULEZ. This works in the same way as our online vehicle checker.  

If a vehicle isn't compliant, and you were not already a road user charging customer, we wrote to registered keepers with advice on what to do next in order to comply. In order to do this, we passed the number plate data to the DVLA, so that they could match them against their database of registered keepers and send you advice from TfL on what to do next.

We worked with the DVLA to contact people in this way as part of TfL's responsibilities  to raise awareness of the tougher LEZ standards and the expansion of the ULEZ, and take all reasonable steps to help road users comply with the schemes.

In order to protect your privacy as much as possible for the purposes of this mail out, TfL did not provide the DVLA with any details of when or where your vehicle was seen by our cameras and, in turn, they did not provide TfL with your name or any of your contact information.

The DVLA has not used the number plate data received from TfL for any other purpose and both TfL and DVLA will delete the data as soon as possible after the mail-outs are complete.

In the event that the ULEZ is expanded in future, we will  undertake a further awareness campaign in the same way.

TfL's vehicle scrappage schemes

TfL administered two vehicle scrappage schemes during 2019-2020 to support people on low incomes and small businesses and charities to replace vehicles that did not comply with the ULEZ emissions standards. If you applied for one of the schemes you will have had to create a Road User Charging account (if you didn't already have one) and provide information about yourself (or business or charity where applicable) and your vehicle.

As with other aspects of our road user schemes, TfL was required to have proper legal grounds for handling any personal data that you provide for the relevant scrappage scheme. In this case, the relevant 'legal basis' is that the use of your data was necessary for the 'performance of a contract'

All of the personal information you provided with your application has been stored securely. TfL  has retained the information collected for administering the van and minibus scrappage scheme or ULEZ car and motorcycle scrappage scheme and to support the following purposes:

•    To handle correspondence, concerns or complaints about the scrappage schemes 
•    To evaluate the schemes and collect feedback 
•    To maintain records according to rules that apply to us (for example financial regulations)
•    To establish and defend any legal rights 

The type of information you provided and how we handled it varied depending on which scheme you applied for.
 

Van and minibus scrappage scheme

As part of meeting the eligibility criteria in the terms and conditions for the Scheme, some applicants were required to confirm they had driven their vehicle within the Central Congestion Charge Zone or Greater London area on a minimum of 26 occasions between in the six months before the Scheme first started (which was 22 February 2109). If you had a Road User Charging Auto Pay account for the Congestion Charge, we used the transaction records to verify this.

We also verifed the information you gave about your business, charity or vehicle with a number of third parties including Companies House, the Charity Commission, HMRC, the DVLA and against other public databases made available by the Government Digital Service.

In the event that you did not use the funds issued to you in accordance with the scheme terms and conditions, we have the right to recover those funds, and share information with, or receive information from, other organisations in order to do this.


The ULEZ car and motorcycle scrappage scheme

As part of meeting the eligibility criteria for the scheme, you needed to provide proof that you received one of the state benefits listed in the application process. We appreciate this kind of information is particularly sensitive and reassure you that it has not been used by TfL for any other purpose at any time, nor shared with any third parties.

We also verified the information you gave about your vehicle with the DVLA. 

Your information rights

Under data protection legislation you are entitled to ask to see any personal information that we hold about you.

If you are a registered customer, you can access and update your personal information by signing into your online account.

For access to other personal information held by TfL in connection with Road User Charging or the scrappage scheme, please see our page on how to access your data.

If we have passed your unpaid charges to an enforcement agent to recover on our behalf, they will also hold personal information about you. You will need to contact the relevant company directly to request a copy of this.

If you would like to unsubscribe from service or marketing messages, please use the link we include at the end of every email. You can also update your contact preferences within your online account - or by emailing unsubscribe@tfl.gov.uk at any time.

You also have a number of other information rights which include:

  • The right to question any information we have about you that you think is wrong or incomplete
  • The right to object to how we use your information or to ask us to delete or restrict how we use it.
  • In some cases, the right to receive a copy of your information in a format that you can easily re-use
  • The right to complain to the regulator - the Information Commissioner's Office

The TfL Privacy and Data Protection team considers and coordinates responses to any requests that relate to an individual's rights under the GDPR and complaints from people whose personal data is processed by TfL and its subsidiary companies.  You can contact the Data Protection Officer by email at dpo@tfl.gov.uk 

 

Changes to this page

It's likely that we'll need to update this statement from time to time, so check back here regularly to find out more. Your continued use of the site will mean that you accept those revisions. This page was last updated in September 2022 to further clarify aspects of the ANPR camera sharing with the MPS.