ULEZ Van Guide
Will You Have to Pay the Charge for Your Van?
The Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is a fact of life for motorists who want to drive in central London. So, what is it, which vehicles does it apply to and most importantly of all will your van be eligible for exemption, or will you need to pay?
You might not think you know what a Luton van is if you have never heard the term before. However, it is highly likely that you have seen one many times while out and about since they are very popular for a variety of commercial endeavours.
What makes used Luton’s very good for removals, in particular, is the design of the enclosed box body they all possess. This rises above the roof level of the cab, giving greater volume in the cargo area and meaning that larger, more awkwardly shaped loads can be accommodated with ease.
ULEZ explained in brief
The ULEZ was introduced in London back in April of 2019 and is currently applicable within the same area as the Congestion Charge.
Starting in October 2021, the ULEZ will be expanded even further, stretching to the extremities of the North and South Circular roads in an attempt to encompass even more of London’s traffic.
The purpose of the zone is simple; by charging motorists who operate the most polluting vehicles, the authorities are actively encouraging commuters as well as commercial drivers and businesses to ditch their older, less eco-friendly vehicles in favour of cleaner, greener replacements. This should improve air quality in the capital and mean that millions of people who live and work there are not having to breathe harmful pollutants exhausted by vehicles.
Costs to consider
There are two types of charges for entering the ULEZ in a vehicle which is subject to it. The first costs £12.50 and is payable by any vans weighing 3.5 tonnes or less, as well as all cars and motorbikes. The second is the £100 charge levied against heavy goods vehicles, as well as vehicles designed for transporting large numbers of people, such as coaches.
Perhaps most important of all is the fact that this charge applies in addition to the Congestion Charge, so you have to pay both if you want to avoid a fine when driving in the relevant area of London.
Interestingly the age of a vehicle is not the primary determining factor when it comes to working out whether its driver will need to pay the ULEZ charge. The first thing to consider is the emissions standard which the engine of the van in question was built to meet.
Vans which have diesel engines that comply with Euro 6 emissions standards will not be subject to the charge. This covers all LCVs registered from September of 2015 onwards, as well as a handful of marginally older models which have a declared emissions rating that satisfies the requirements of the ULEZ.
For petrol-powered vehicles, compliance with Euro 4 standards or higher will let the driver sidestep the charge. This covers cars and vans registered after September of 2005.
Any diesel van with a Euro 5 or older engine onboard will be hit with the charge and since there are still plenty of vehicles which fall into this category on the road today, it is something that drivers need to consider before they head to central London for business or pleasure.
Payment & enforcement
There are plenty of ways to pay to enter the ULEZ, whether you choose to use the official TfL website or call up to pay via phone. If you are only making a single trip to the heart of London, or will be visiting sporadically, making one-off payments like this will make the most sense. If you are willing to fork out the £10 additional fee, you can request that the payment process is entirely automated, although this is only worthwhile if you need to drive in the ULEZ regularly.
However, you choose to pay, be aware that your vehicle’s entry into the ULEZ will be logged by cameras equipped with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) capabilities as soon as you pass into the part of the city it covers. This means that non-payment is an impossibility and you will face a maximum fine of £160. You can halve this fine if you pay within 2 weeks of it being issued, although obviously the best thing to do is to pay the £12.50 charge in the first place.
What distinguishes the ULEZ charge from the Congestion Charge is that the former applies around the clock, while the latter is only enforced between the hours of 7am and 6pm on weekdays.
This means that whatever time of day or day of the year you drive your van into central London, the ULEZ charge will need to be paid in order to avoid the aforementioned fine.
Clearly with the impending expansion of the ULEZ and the already steep daily cost of paying for the Congestion Charge, many business owners will want to sell their old vans and buy a replacement which has a Euro 6-compliant engine so that they are exempt from the extra £12.50 fee.
There are several ways to go about selling an old van, whether it is an ex-fleet van or whether it has a broken DPF which means it is not even meeting its manufacturer-rated levels of emissions in the first place.
You might consider taking advantage of the Mayor of London’s scrappage scheme, which allows up to £3500 for those looking to replace vans they own or lease with a Euro 6-rated vehicle. Up to £6000 is available for those hoping to make the switch to a fully-electric, zero emissions van.
Of course, there are a number of caveats associated with this scheme, such as the fact that it can only be leveraged by sole traders, ‘micro-business’ owners or charitable organisations. Applicants must also have an address which falls within the Greater London area, meaning those based even just outside of this region cannot claim any support.
Contact us for assistance
For all of the reasons above, it is better for many van owners to use our online valuation tool to find out how much their non-ULEZ-compliant vehicle is worthy and then get in touch with us to sell it. We not only buy vans which are hampered by older, less eco-friendly engines; we also buy vans which have failed MOTs, been written off in accidents or stopped running altogether. If avoiding the ULEZ charge is just part of why you want to upgrade, we are here to help.
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