Changes to the Congestion Charge

  • Providing the option to pay CC Auto Pay accounts by direct debit
  • Enabling discount applications and renewals to be made online
  • Increasing the daily Congestion Charge
  • Changing the NHS Reimbursement Scheme to allow reimbursement for CC Auto Pay payments
  • Providing the option for customers to amend the date of a pre-paid charge on the day of travel
  • Minor administrative changes to the Congestion Charge Scheme Order

Improving customer service

A range of changes to the Congestion Charge being introduced in 2016 will benefit customers. These include:

  • CC Auto Pay users will be able to pay by direct debit (currently only credit or debit cards can be used)
  • Customers eligible for discounts, including Blue Badge holders, will be able to apply for these discounts online
  • Certain journeys undertaken by NHS patients and staff within the Congestion Charge zone are entitled to reimbursement. Currently if they paid by CC Auto Pay, they are not able to be reimbursed. A further change to the Congestion Charge scheme will allow everyone eligible under the NHS Reimbursement Scheme to be reimbursed whether they pay by CC Auto Pay or other methods
  • A further change will allow customers who have paid the Congestion Charge in advance, but can no longer travel on the pre-paid date, to amend the date for a small administration fee of £2.50

Previous changes

 
April 2013

Changes made the scheme in 2013 followed a 12-week consultation of Londoners, and businesses and key stakeholders.

These changes included:

  • The introduction of a new Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) to replace the Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD) and Electric Vehicle Discount (EVD)
  • Removing the option to pay the charge in shops and petrol stations
  • Increasing the penalty charge from £120 to £130

The Ultra Low Emission Discount

The ULED was introduced on 1 July 2013 and provides a single 100% discount on the Congestion Charge for all electric vehicles and for ultra low emission cars and vans.

To qualify for the new ULED, vehicles will have to be either electric or be cars and vans that emit 75g/km or less of CO2 and meet the Euro 5 emission standard for air quality. Plug-in hybrid cars and vans have additional electric range and top speed criteria and TfL will publish a list of eligible vehicles.

Eligible vehiclesQualifying criteria
Pure electric vehicles Electric cars, vans, lorries or quadricycles that run solely on batteries. Eligible vehicles will have the fuel type recorded as 'electric' on the V5C car registration document issued by the DVLA or be exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty because they are electrically propelled vehicles. 
Ultra low emission carsPassenger cars that emit less than 75g/km of CO2, as recorded on the V5C car registration document, and meet the Euro 5 emissions standard.
Ultra low emission vansVans (light goods vehicles not exceeding 3.5 tonnes) that emit 75g/km or less of CO2 and meet the Euro 5 emissions standard.

The ULED replaced the GVD and EVD. The GVD closed because the increasing number of cars qualifying for the discount eroded the congestion and emissions benefits of the Congestion Charge scheme.

Vehicles registered for the EVD were automatically transferred to the ULED on 1 July 2013.

The GVD closed to new discount registrations with Transport for London on 28 June 2013. Cars registered for the GVD did not meet the tighter CO2 criteria for the ULED. However, in recognition that drivers invested in low emission cars, the owners of cars registered for the GVD before the introduction of the ULED continue to receive a full discount for that vehicle for a further three years until 24 June 2016. This 'sunset period' for the GVD was extended from the original two year period in response to comments received in the consultation.

The ULED incentivises use of the cleanest vehicles available. Currently only electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles meet the ULED criteria but in the future any hybrid, petrol, diesel or hydrogen car or van that became available that emitted 75g/km or less of CO2 would qualify.

Read more about the ULED in our page on discounts and exemptions.

Paying the charge at shops and petrol stations

The option to pay the Congestion Charge in shops and petrol stations was removed from 26 July 2013 as a result of fewer people paying using this method. Drivers are no longer able to pay cash for the Congestion Charge. Just 6% of payments of the Congestion Charge were made in shops or petrol stations as the vast majority of customers pay through the automatic payment method, Congestion Charge Auto Pay.

Congestion Charge Auto Pay account holders pay £10.50 per day (rather than £11.50) and are protected from receiving Penalty Charge Notices.

Drivers will still be able to pay the Congestion Charge using a wide range of other means including online, by phone, by text message or by Auto Pay. Drivers can also pay the charge in advance by post using cheque or postal order.

Removing the retail payment channel reduces the cost of operating the Congestion Charge scheme. Any increase in our net revenue as a result of the change continues to be reinvested in improvements to transport in London.

Penalty charge increase

The penalty charge for the Congestion Charge increased from £120 to £130 on 20 May 2013 (reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days and increased to £195 if not paid within 28 days). This is only the third increase in the penalty charge since the Congestion Charge was introduced in 2003 and brings the penalty charge in line with other moving traffic, bus lane and parking penalty charges within London.

Change to the scheme Date 
PCN increase from £120 to £130
Monday 20 May 2013
Closure of the GVD and EVD to new registrations;
start of sunset period for existing recipients
Friday 28 June 2013
Introduction of Ultra Low Emission Discount
Monday 1 July 2013
Retail payment channel closure
Friday 26 July 2013
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