Direct Line magazine

The Congestion Charge

Updated on: 2 September 2020

Congestion charge road sign

Direct Line Car Insurance customers who are London drivers will probably be more than familiar with the Congestion Charge. If your memory needs to be refreshed or you’re a regional driver thinking of driving into the capital, then don’t set off without reading our introductory guide.

What is the Congestion Charge?

Introduced in February 2003, the Congestion Charge is designed to alleviate traffic gridlock in London and to help raise funds for public transport improvements in the capital. Payment of the Congestion Charge (see TFL for the most up-to-date charges) allows you to enter, drive within and exit the Congestion Charging Zone as many times as you wish on that day.

Before you travel, you should check at what times the Congestion Charge applies.

How does it work?

Basically, cameras read your vehicle registration number as you enter, drive within or exit the Congestion Charging Zone. Your reg is then checked against a database and, if you haven’t paid, you’ll be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and fined. The current penalty charge can be found on the TFL website.

Failure to pay this can lead to legal action being taken. If you have paid your Congestion Charge, or your vehicle is exempt from charges or 100% discounted, the record of your vehicle will be automatically wiped from the database.

Where do I pay my Congestion Charge?

The TFL website has all the information you need on how to pay for the Congestion Charge, but it’s recommended you do so online. Be sure to pay using links on the TFL site in order to avoid payment fraud.

Who is exempt from or discounted under the Congestion Charge?

Not all drivers have to pay the Congestion Charge. Exemptions, discounts and possible refunds are available depending on your circumstances.

Don’t assume you’re exempt because you’ve been told you are by a friend, as this won’t be much help when arguing a fine. If you think you don’t need to pay the Congestion Charge, head over to the TFL website to check for yourself.

Similarly, you may be eligible for a discount, but you’ll need to apply for this online.

In the same vein, don’t risk paying the penalty for driving without adequate car insurance. With Direct Line, it’s quick and easy to apply for a quote for our car insurance online.

Please note that the information contained within this article is correct at the time of creation. Information may have changed since this article was published by Direct Line.

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