Transport for London ULEZ website causes confusion for classic car owners

by Antony Ingram
1 June 2021 3 min read
Transport for London ULEZ website causes confusion for classic car owners

Drivers in London are gearing up for an expansion to the city’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone, or ULEZ, on October 25, but for some classic car owners the process for investigating their cars’ eligibility has only caused confusion.

Earlier this month Hagerty reported on the impact the expanded ULEZ will have for London’s classic car drivers, detailing why the zone is expanding, how it will affect car culture, and which vehicles will be exempt from the £12.50 daily charge within the ULEZ.

How much is your car to insure? Find out in four easy steps.
Get a quote

Drive a non-compliant car into the expanded ULEZ area just one a week and owners will be hit with a bill of £650 a year – more than many drivers’ insurance and road tax combined. At five days a week the penalty rises to £3250 a year.

Classic car owners contacted Hagerty to raise concerns that their seemingly eligible classics – pre-1981 vehicles already registered with the DVLA as a historic vehicle, exempting them from road tax and therefore old enough to qualify for ULEZ exemption – were coming up on Transport for London (TfL)’s ULEZ website as attracting the daily charge.

James Owen, who owns two classics already exempt from VED and MoT requirements, plus a classic younger than 40 years old, discovered that the TfL website told him he would have to pay for all three after he submitted the vehicles’ details.

Brian Hilton encountered the same issue with his 55-year old Lancia Fulvia Berlina, and Edward Hosford was another whose cars were apparently subject to the charge when entering their details on the TfL website – including one as early as 1927.

“This is ludicrous,” said Terry Ingles, whose 1960 MGA also came up as being ineligible. “Why do I have to prove the registration status twice over to satisfy TfL, when the DVLA is satisfied as to its status?”

Meanwhile, Roger Grix said he believes that all vehicles currently registered within the post-October ULEZ area should be exempt from the charge: “Charges should only be applied to any non-compliant vehicles within the ULEZ if they are registered after the commencement date.”

Donald Cameron told Hagerty he had written to his local MP, Felicity Buchan, highlighting the inequality in the boroughs of Kensington and neighbouring Chelsea and how many drivers will be unable to afford the ULEZ charge or the cost of changing to a car that meets emissions targets for the expanded ULEZ area.

Hagerty submitted the details of several recently-featured classics, including Steve Soper’s Lotus Elan from a recent auction, and discovered that they too showed up a £12.50 charge when entered on the ULEZ checking website.

Steve Soper's 1972 Lotus Elan
Photo: Silverstone Auctions

The expansion has already caused consternation for classic car owners all around the city, whose cars aren’t typically used for commuting – and therefore contribute minimally to pollution or congestion – but have now been made considerably more expensive to run on the days they are driven.

The ULEZ is designed primarily to cut toxic combustion emissions from the city’s streets, plus a reduction in the greenhouse gas CO2. A report commissioned by City Hall predicts that the ULEZ expansion could reduce the number of people suffering chronic diseases like asthma by as many as 300,000 by 2050.

Hagerty asked Transport for London why so many classic car owners’ vehicles were not showing as exempt. The organisation put it down to a confusingly-designed website, and told Hagerty that design improvements would be made to remove any confusion from the process, but was unable to provide a timeframe in which such changes would be made.

Currently, motorists who have been misled by TfL’s website can confirm their car’s exemption on TfL’s system by clicking on the “Pay charges” button further down the car checker page.

TfL ULEZ checker criticised by drivers

This launches a new window. Scroll to the bottom of that page and click the “Pay” button, at which point you’ll be asked to enter and confirm your car’s registration details. This goes through to another page that then gives you the option of paying for Congestion Charge or ULEZ – and if your vehicle is exempt, it will be marked as such, with no charge next to the check box on the page.

ULEZ website

Drivers will, of course, still need to use the website to pay for the Congestion Charge, which applies between 7am and 10pm in central London. But provided any car meets the criteria for exemption when the expanded zone arrives in October, TfL says motorists shouldn’t be getting a penalty notice through their letterbox.

Also read

What the Ultra Low Emissions Zone means for London’s classic car owners
Everything you need to know about using E10 fuel with your classic car
Something old, something new. How scrappage harmed the classic car community

You may also like

What the Ultra Low Emissions Zone means for London’s classic car owners
What ULEZ means for drivers in London
London ULEZ expansion will go ahead, court rules
London ULEZ expansion will go ahead, court rules
8 pre-war prizes crossing the block at Monterey in 2023
8 pre-war prizes crossing the block at Monterey in 2023
A story about

Your biweekly dose of car news from Hagerty in your inbox


  • Andy says:

    Am I not correct when I seem to recall that the powers that be altered the traffic light phasing in London, and thereby slowed up the average speeds ? This alone causes extra pollution, as does stupid “traffic calming” sleeping policemen, which results in cars using a lower gear than would otherwise be necessary. Unfortunately, because they never think of the complete picture when introducing these measures, the end result doesn’t alter, so another knee jerk reaction is deemed necessary. And of course its NEVER just a money raising scam……..?!

  • K J Clarke says:

    Very true In Coventry we have no zones (as yet) but in all the areas pointed out as being high in polution levels is where there are a plethora of traffic lights and road narrowing restrictions for pedestrian crossings holding traffic up just idling away the very time they are most innefficient as you say no forward thinking

  • John Roberts says:

    Absolutely spot on!

  • peter thwaites says:

    And all the time those things flying above us in the sky causing “unknown amounts of pollution?” and dumping fuel into the atmosphere just carry on as normal wile the easy target motorist is further penalized…

  • peter thwaites says:

    And all the time those things flying above us in the sky causing “unknown amounts of pollution?” and dumping fuel into the atmosphere just carry on as normal while the easy target motorist is further penalized…

  • James Davis says:

    My understanding is that TfL built their own checker – whilst using a DVLA data feed – it focused on date of reg as the cut off for Euro 4 petrol and Euro 6 diesel. Some manufacturers launched their compliant engines before the legal date deadline (the reg date TFL use) so they showed as non compliant. Equally some manufacturers got old engine model exemptions (called derogations) from the legal date deadline so their non-compliant engines show as compliant. I’d imagine TfL just charged everything that pre-dated as their system wasn’t built to exclude rolling 40 year vehicles. Birmingham and Bath use the Government checker which – despite early problems that caused the launch dates to be deferred – use DVLA data directly so references historic taxation class.

  • Mr B.B.Payne says:

    We are the only country that complies with all these regulations, it was the same when we were in the EU, the rest of the world just goes on as usual, China is still building coal fired plants and Australia exports more coal to china than UK used at the height of the industrial revolution.

  • Petula Cavill says:

    In the meantime super tankers circumnavigating the world, powered by dirty diesel, remain unregulated……!!!!
    I have read that only 15 super tankers, circling the globe in one year, emit as much CO2 as the worlds ENTIRE number of road vehicles….!!! DISCUSS
    In addition, why have we not rolled out hydrogen powered cars? Electric vehicles will produce so much more pollution in their manufacture. I recently read the UK will need to build 8 MEGA factories solely producing batteries. Huge holes are being dug in the ground to mine lithium alone. What then happens to the millions of dead batteries? How are we going to generate enough electricity to keep our lights on when millions of us will be needing to plug our EV’s in to re-charge overnight? This bonkers list just keeps getting longer and nobody seems to be addressing it……

  • Daz says:

    Iv been at odds with it all iv contacted tfl as I have a mk1 audi tt on a 2000 reg and it has everything that the later 2006 reg has yet mine won’t meet the criteria for the ulez iv sent over all the paper work they have asked for but no reply

  • Ben Hughes says:

    I have requested to TFL to retro fit a dpf filter to my modern classic and then have it VOSA soot tested at my own expense (as tfl are doing to their own vehicles) . I have been told that I am not allowed as they do not want to put me the motorist to such inconvenience. But that should be my choice!! I have ‘right to repair and keep and reuse well maintained cars. My vehicle also passes strict MOT emissions tests every year. I have asked TFL to therefore refund the cost of my MOT’s over the past decade as they say that they are and I quote “ MOt’s are not fit for purpose”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More on this topic
Hagerty Newsletter
Get your weekly dose of car news from Hagerty UK in your inbox

Thanks for signing up!

Your request will be handled as soon as possible