London Congestion Charge: A Guide

The Congestion Charge was introduced to areas of inner London in 2003, with boundary changes following in 2008. Essentially, the charge is levied on any car that enters a certain area of London during working hours on week days. Here, we provide a full FAQ on the London Congestion Charge that applies to both tourists and residents.

What Is It?

The Congestion Charge applies to any vehicle that enters a certain area of London on a certain day. It is a daily rate for the use of the roads in that area, and was initially introduced to try and combat environmental issues from the extremely busy London streets. The money raised is used to help reduce congestion and to help fund and improve London public transport system.

How Does It Work?

The system relies on a type of technology caused Electronic Numberplate Recognition; essentially, cameras scour the streets and send the number plates (registration plate) details back to a central computer, which double-checks whether that car has had its charge paid. There are cameras operating this system everywhere, so it can’t be avoided.

Where Is It?

The existing zone (as of March 2011) comprises of much of central London. Explaining it in words is difficult unless both parties have a mini London map in their minds, so check one of the many online maps to see if the area you intend to visit is within the zone

There are also road signs and markings within the zone where it applies.

When Does The Charge Apply?

The congestion charge applies Monday to Friday between the hours of 7am and 11pm GMT. You do not need to pay the charge if you will only be driving in to the charge zone between 11pm and 7am. Furthermore, there is no charge on weekends, public holidays, Christmas Day or New Year’s Day.

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