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Do Electric HGVs and Other Haulage Vehicles Pay Congestion Charges?

8 March 2023

It’s true that electric HGVs can be expensive, but after the initial upfront cost, operating electric logistics vehicles can come with various advantages, including significant discounts and cost reductions.

Not only can electric vehicles save your business money now, they will also save you money in the future, as government vehicle emissions levies are only set to increase.

Why Do Congestion Charges Apply in Clean Air Zones?

Congestion charges are one of the key areas where discounts for electric vehicles can be found.

These charges apply in ‘Clean Air Zones’ (CAZ), which are designated areas, usually in inner-city locations, where targeted action is taken to improve air quality. These zones are designed to uplift the quality of life for residents and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Everyone who drives an in-scope vehicle through these areas (rules vary from one CAZ to another) must pay a daily charge, which differs in price depending on which CAZ you will be driving through. Several exempt groups don’t have to pay the charge, which includes electric vehicle drivers. This is because fully electric vehicles are local emissions-free, so do not emit any harmful chemicals from the exhaust pipe into the atmosphere. In other words, they are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

London Low Emission Zone

London’s Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) has the firmest regulations of any zone in the UK because the volume of traffic is so high. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year apart from Christmas Day.

All logistics vehicles above 3.5 tonnes, and buses and coaches over 5 tonnes all fall into the same category. Any HGV or bus that doesn’t meet the LEZ emission standard has to pay a LEZ charge that can range from £100 to £300 per day, depending on which emissions standards your vehicles meet.

Electric HGVs and other electric vehicles are exempt from the London congestion charge; however, they have to be fully electric. So, they will either be electric lorries that are powered by a battery, or a hydrogen fuel cell. To register, you need to apply for the Cleaner Vehicles Discount online.

However, this discount will only be in place until the 25th of December 2025. After this, electric vehicle owners will have to pay the same as all other vehicle owners. 

Hybrid vehicles are not exempt from the current charges and may still have to pay if they don’t meet the emissions standards. However, as many hybrid vehicles have been recently manufactured, they are likely to meet the emission requirements.

You can check if you need to pay for any vehicles in your fleet pay using the Transport for London Vehicle Checker.

Are the Congestion Charge Rules Different Across UK Cities?

There are different classes of ‘Clean Air Zones’ in the UK. Whichever class a city’s zone is in dictates which vehicles have to pay congestion charges.

Class Vehicle Type
A Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles
B Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles
C Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses
D Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses, cars, the local authority has the option to include motorcycles


Currently, the UK has established ‘Clean Air Zones’ in seven cities outside London:

As well as the city’s class, when you want to enter a ‘Clean Air Zone’, the government also takes into account the type of fuel your vehicle runs on, and how eco-friendly its emissions are, according to the European Emissions Standards.

Like in London, all fully-electric vehicles, including electric HGVs, are exempt from the congestion charges in all other UK cities. For hybrid vehicles, things are a little tricker, as the diesel or petrol part of the hybrid engine must comply with the European Emissions Standards. If the emissions of the fuel engine are within the required range, then the hybrid vehicle is exempt.

For any vehicle, including HGVs, you can use the UK government’s Vehicle checker to see if you need to pay congestion charges in ‘Clean Air Zones’ outside of London.

What about congestion charges for Low Emission Zones in Europe?

There are also many Low Emission Zones and several Zero Emission Zones throughout Europe. Some of these zones include congestion charges, whereas others simply require vehicles to fit diesel particulate filters and other emissions-preventative measures.

In many European cities, like Brussels and Oslo, electric vehicles also need to pay the urban road toll charges. The best advice is to check the Urban Access Regulations map on all of the Low Emission Zones in the EU before you plan a haulage job in Europe.

Check out our informational resources if you’re curious about other rules you need to know before driving an HGV in Europe.

As the pressure to reach NetZero emissions by 2050 increases, ‘Clean Air Zones’ will only become more widespread across the UK and Europe, with a clean air initiative for Greater Manchester already in the works for the next few years.

Therefore, with the electric HGV market exponentially growing, it’s a good time for logistics operators to consider the cost benefits of investing in electric vehicles for their fleet. If you’re interested in expanding your fleet to include electric HGVs in the future, take a look at our shortlist of the 6 best electric lorries currently on the UK market.