One of the biggest pushes for expanding both the ULEZ and Clean Air zones is due to the increase in air-pollution-related health issues that have occurred in many areas throughout the UK, especially within London.

In this blog article, we’re going to be running down everything you need to know regarding riding a motorcycle in ULEZ and Clean Air Zones across the UK. So without further ado…

Let’s get into it!

What is ULEZ and what areas does it cover?

ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zones) previously covered all areas of London within the North and South Circular Roads. However, since the 29th of August 2023, these zones have expanded further across not only London but the UK…

In London

London currently has the largest clean air zone in the UK and the world. The ULEZ covers every borough of London, helping the nine million residents breathe and live in cleaner air.

As you can see in the map below, the most recent ULEZ expansion now covers almost all of Greater London, spanning from Enfield in the north to Croydon in the south. It is worth noting that while the M25 is within these surroundings, travelling on it will not require you to pay the ULEZ charge.

Rest of the UK

Across the rest of the UK, these zones are typically classified as ‘Clear Air Zones (CAZ)’.

Each city or town throughout England, Scotland, and Wales has been given the freedom to decide their versions of clear air zones, including which vehicles are exempt and the distance that these zones will cover. Some cities moving towards clean air zones include:

Why were ULEZ/Clean Air zones introduced?

As mentioned in the intro, clean air zones have been brought in across the UK to tackle public health issues relating to air pollution and do their bit to try and combat climate change.

Who will the LEZ/CAZ areas affect?

Both ULEZ and Clear Air Zones will affect anyone who is entering any cities or towns on a non-compliant vehicle where these zones are active. This will include:

  • Commuters
  • New or pre-existing residents
  • Students
  • Visitors
  • Delivery Riders/Drivers

Are Congestion Charges and ULEZ Charges the same?

Please note that the ULEZ charge is not to be mistaken with the congestion charge already imposed across London which you will have to pay additionally to any outstanding ULEZ charges.

Congestion charges were put in place across London to reduce traffic congestion in Central London, whereas the ULEZ/LEZ charge is in aid to reduce air pollution.

Which motorcycles are ULEZ/Clean Air compliant?

At the time of writing, clean air zones and ULEZ areas vary when it comes to which bikes and mopeds are compliant and therefore will not need to pay the charges.

In this section, we will cover the rulings from both ULEZ in London as well as the clean air zones imposed in many towns and cities across the UK. These are as follows:

ULEZ Zones

To be exempt from paying the £12.50 ULEZ charge in London, your two wheeler must at minimum meet the Euro 3 Emissions standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx).

On the other hand, you’ll be pleased to know that if your motorcycle is over 40 years old (classic motorcycle) or is fully electric, it shall be automatically exempt from paying the ULEZ charges.

Euro Emissions Standards for Motorcycles:

First introduced in 1999, Euro Emissions standards have become a great way for the UK and Europe to differentiate which vehicles give out how much of each chemical emission.

Motorcycle Euro Emissions are separated into different categories depending on their manufacturer date, as well as the level of emissions they give off. Below we have created a simple table to help you get to grasp:

Euro Standard:  Date Introduced:  Standard Requirements (Petrol & Diesel):   ULEZ Compliant?
Euro 1 1999 CO = 13g/km
NOx = 0.3g/km
HC = 3.0g/km
Euro 2 2003 CO = 5.5gg/km
NOx = 0.3g/km
HC = 1.0g/km
Euro 3 2006 CO = 2.0g/km
NOx = 0.15g/km
HC = 0.3g/km
Euro 4 2016 CO = 1.14g/km
NOx = 0.09g/km
HC = 0.17g/km
Euro 5 2020 CO = 1.00g/km
NOx = 0.06g/km
HC = 0.17g/km
PM = 0.0045g/km
NMCH = 0.068g/km
Euro 6 2024 CO = 1.00g/km
NOx = 0.6g/km
HC = 0.10g/km
PM = 0.0045g/km
NMHC = 0.068g/km
  • * CO = Carbon Monoxide
  • ** NOx = Nitrogen Oxide
  • *** HC = Hemocyanin
  • **** PM = Promethium
  • ***** NMHC = Non-Methane HydroCarbon

Clean Air Zones/LEZ Zones

When it comes to clean air zones, these work a little differently. Clean air zones are graded from A-D, giving local authorities the decision on which vehicles they consider exempt/will be required to pay a charge to drive or ride in these zones.

The grading system works as follows:

Class:  Vehicle Type:
A Buses, coaches, taxis, and private hire vehicles
B Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire and heavy goods vehicles
C Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire and heavy goods vehicles, vans, and minibuses
D Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses, and cars. Class D will also allow local authorities to include motorcycles.

For example, at the time of writing Birmingham has issued a grade D clean air zone meaning that motorcycles under Euro 3 will have to pay a standard charge to ride through the centre. However, in cities such as Portsmouth, a class B clean air zone is active, meaning motorcycles are free to pass through the city without worrying about paying any clean air charges.

How do I pay for the ULEZ zone charges?

Both ULEZ and Clean Air zones work in the same way, requiring you to pay for each day you ride through areas with the zones imposed. The zones run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and everyday day of the year.

How does the system know I have to pay a charge?

These cameras will be running all day every day, reading the numberplates upon entry into a low emissions zone. The camera will then take your number plate and cross-reference it with DVLA registration records to determine whether or not your bike is compliant.

How to pay the ULEZ charge in London?

As we’ve mentioned previously in this article the current charge sits at £12.50 per day if you intend on riding within these zones in London. It is worth noting that if you are riding in these areas past midnight, you will be charged for two days instead of one.

You can pay for the charge via:

It is worth mentioning that failure to pay the outstanding charge before midnight on the day you leave these zones will run the risk of receiving a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

How to pay Clean Air Zone charges?

When it comes to paying clean air charges, this will work a little differently to the London ULEZ zones. Instead of having a handful of ways to pay, you will need to either visit the official government website or call 0300 029 8888 to pay that specific town or cities charge.

Similarly to ULEZ, failure to pay any outstanding charges can and will land you with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

Alternative ways to avoid paying ULEZ charges

I think it goes without saying that having to pay ULEZ/LEZ charges every time you commute to and from work can begin to add up, especially when you consider this on top of the ever-increasing plans to expand low-emission zones across the UK.

To avoid paying the charge, perhaps consider:

  • Upgrading your bike
  • Scrapping or donating your bike (see below)
  • Utilise public transport within your area
  • Walk or cycle

ULEZ Scrappage Scheme

At the time of writing, if you live in London and want to either scrap or donate your non-compliant motorcycle, you will be pleased to know TFL is offering each individual up to £1000 per bike.

To apply to the scrappage scheme and receive the £1000, you must:

  • Live in one of the thirty-two boroughs of London
  • Have your bike registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
  • Check that your bike does not meet the current ULEZ emissions standards.
  • Make sure your bike has valid insurance, road tax, and MOT.

How does the scrappage scheme work?

When looking to scrap your non-compliant two-wheeler, you will see on the application form that you have two options. You can either:

Scrapping the bike

If you intend on scrapping the bike instead of donating, you will then need to fill out the application form and wait to receive your eligibility confirmation letter which will come directly from TFL.

Donating it to Ukraine

On the other hand, if you are donating your bike, the BUA will contact you within five days of your application to arrange a date for pick up or drop off of your bike.

After the submission has been approved, BUA will ensure that the details given on the application form match the bike being handed over. You will also need to give the BUA a new owner slip from the two-wheeler V5C and then notify the DVLA that the vehicle has been transferred to BUA as the new keeper, using the details they provide and in return, they will email you a Certificate of Donation.

The Certificate of Donation will then need to be submitted to the official government website, allowing you to access your grant.

The future of ULEZ and clean air zones

With London’s expansion of the ULEZ zones set in motion late last year, it comes as no surprise that plenty of other cities across the UK are planning or hoping to follow in the same footsteps.

The government has reported that since putting the ULEZ restrictions in place, so far there has almost been a 50% reduction in toxic nitrogen dioxide pollution, as well as an 800,000-tonne reduction in carbon dioxide emissions between 2019-2022.

According to GOV.UK, as of March this year many cities are planning to/reviewing ideas to put their own clean air zones in place. These cities include (but are not limited to):

  • Greater Manchester
  • Cambridge
  • Liverpool
  • Across Wales
  • St Albans

However, just because your town and city aren’t on the report just yet, if I had to make an estimated assumption when taking into consideration the plans to ban the production of all petrol and diesel vehicles by the year 2030 - I believe the coverage of ULEZ and clear air zones will only continue to spread across the UK.

*Please note, if you would like to see the full report, please head over to the GOV.UK website!

The Last Stop!

So there you have it, we hope you enjoyed our full guide on everything you need to know regarding motorcycles and clean air/ULEZ zones across the UK!