What is the London Congestion Charge?

London Congestion Charge Re-introduced

We’ve had quite a few questions with regards to the London Congestion Charge recently, mainly from our Expat customers who may have received a fine for driving into a zone without paying the applicable charge.

As many of our customers are aware, we do charge an administration charge should a fine come through, so this article is to explain what the charge is and what you need to do before you drive into a charging zone in London, to help save you money.

The History of the Congestion Charge

London is one of the busiest cities in the world and has faced traffic congestion for years. It is no secret that navigating the city during rush hour can be a nightmare for drivers and commuters alike. To tackle this problem, the congestion charge was introduced in London in 2003.

The introduction of the Congestion Charge was met with mixed reations. Supports of the scheme believed that it would reduce traffic congestion and improve the overall air quality, while opponants argued that it would place and unfair burden on drivers who had no alternative but to travel into the central London area.

How much is the Congestion Charge?

The Congestion charge is levied between the hours of 07:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday, 12:00 to 18:00 Saturday and Sunday. The cost of the charge is currently £15.00 per day.

The charge must be paid ONLINE or over the phone by midnight on the day of travel. If you fail to pay the TFL will levy a fine which comes with a discount if paid within 14 days.

Has the Congestion Charge worked?

Since it’s introduction in 2003, the congestion charge has been successful in reducing traffic levels and improving air quality in the central London area.

According to Transport for London (TFL), traffic levels have decreased by around 30% since the charge was introduced. There has been a significant improvement in air quality, with a reduction in emissions of around 16%.

What vehicles are exempt from the charge?

Our recent article on Electric and Hybrid vehicles currently covers the congestion charge answers based on this question.

But those who also do not have to pay the congestion charge include:

  • Blue Badge Holders
  • Roadside Recovery Vehicles
  • Accredited Breakdown Vehicles
  • Vehicles with 9+ seats
  • Zero Emission Vehicles
  • Emergency Vehicles


In conclusion, the introduction of the congestion charge in London was a significant step towards reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality in the city. Although it remains a controversial issue, the charge has been successful in achieving its aims and has become and important part of London’s transport infrastructure, with other cities around the UK also looking at introducing similar schemes.

Rebecca joined the Cocoon Vehicles team in 2018 after running and selling a successful financial services business offering pension, investments and mortgages. Today, Rebeccas goal is to provide the best possible customer service along with news that you will want to read.

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