Little-known Ulez loophole could help petrol and diesel drivers escape £12.50 daily charge

A Ulez sign

The Ulez scheme will expand on August 29

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 22/08/2023

- 09:32

Classic cars over a certain age are exempt from paying the daily £12.50 Ulez charge

The Ultra Low Emission Zone is set to expand on August 29, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan looking to clash emissions in the capital.

Drivers will now see the Ulez zone grow to cover almost all of Greater London, with non-compliant vehicles being charged £12.50 every day.

The decision to expand the scheme has been met with widespread criticism from drivers and politicians, with the Ulez even being blamed for Labour’s loss in the Uxbridge by-election.

Older and more polluting petrol and diesel vehicles are required to pay £12.50 when driving in the zone if their vehicles are non-compliant.

A 1976 Triumph Stag

Vehicles older than 40 years of age are exempt from the Ulez charge


Petrol cars that meet Ulez standards tend to be those first registered with the DVLA after 2005, although some cars available since 2001 may also be eligible.

Diesel cars must adhere to the Euro 6 emissions standards, which are generally those first registered after September 2015.

While many drivers are struggling with the prospect of having to pay £12.50 every day, some may be lucky enough to make use of a loophole.

All vehicles that have a historic tax class are exempt from paying the daily Ulez charge, even if they release a high level of pollution.

Drivers can apply to the DVLA to stop paying tax on their vehicle if it was built more than 40 years ago, with the 40-year benchmark changing on a rolling system.

When the Ulez expands at the end of August, all vehicles built before 1983 would be eligible to apply for the historic vehicle tax class.

Transport for London (TfL) states that all vehicles constructed before January 1, 1973, are exempt, in line with the existing Low Emission Zone discount.

However, the historic vehicle tax class does not apply to any vehicle used commercially, like coffee vans or street food vans.

The TfL website adds: “If your vehicle meets the above criteria but is registered outside the UK, it is also exempt, but you will need to register it with us before travelling in the zone.”

Some other vehicle types are exempt from paying the Ulez daily charge, including specialist agricultural vehicles, military vehicles, non-road vehicles like excavators and certain types of mobile cranes.

Used car marketplaces show hundreds or potentially thousands of classic cars around the country which are exempt.

While some vehicles, like a fully restored 1962 Aston Martin DB4 could set drivers back £995,000, others are far cheaper.


A Ulez sign

Drivers face a £12.50 daily charge if their vehicle is not compliant


On the Auto Trader website, drivers can get their hands on a 1956 Morris Minor with 51,092 miles on the clock for just £1,775.

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