4 Tips To Avoid The Congestion Charge

Since you are caring about paying the congestion fares, you may be familiar with or at least know something about the congestion charge in London.

I wrote a complete guide to London Congestion Charge.

You can find almost everything about the London Congestion such as where is it, what time, how much to pay and so on.

Congestion Charge Logo

However, we only focus on how you can avoid paying the Congestion in this guide.

Please note if you drive into the Congestion Charge zone at a certain time, there is no way to avoid paying the Congestion Charge.

Before you drive into central London, I suggest downloading the London Congestion Charge Zone Map to check what areas the Congestion Charge Zone covers.

Methods To Avoid The Congestion Charge

1. Use google Maps to avoid the charge.

Check if the destination is in the Congestion Charge zone. If your destination is inside the zone, it is impossible to avoid congestion charges.

Soho in Congestion Charge zone

For example, if you are going to Soho, London at the Congestion Charge time, there is no way to avoid the congestion charges since it is in the zone when checking Tfl here.

If you are going from Little Portugal to Union Chapel, put “Union Chapel” in the google map search bar, then click Directions.

Union Chapel in google map

Put in your start point Little Portugal, and you may see the transports you can choose to reach your destination Union Chapel, choose driving in this case.

Little Portugal to Union Chapel

On the right, you can see the estimated time to reach your destination.

You can see the words “This route has tolls.” on the left side, which means the Congestion Charge.

Click “options”, you may see “Tolls” below the word “avoid”. Check the box. That’s it.

Little Portugal to Union Chapel with no tolls

However, after checking the box, we can see that the estimated time changes from 38 minutes to 1 hour (It may change depending on the time you search). And the distances change from 6 miles to 9.4 miles.

You don’t want to pay for the Congestion Charge, you have to pay for the time and the car fuel, which also means money.

So you need to consider yourself if it is worth it.

Some people report that sometimes google map is not reliable when using the avoid Toll setting.

Check again the Congestion Charge map before your journey.

2. Select the time to visit central London.

You may have already known that there is a certain time when you drive into the Congestion Charge zone, you have to pay the fare.

In other words, if you drive into London at a time that doesn’t include the congestion Charge time, you are not going to pay.

To make it clearer, I create two tables, one is with the time to pay, and the other one is with time you don’t need to pay for the fares.

Pay a Congestion Charge on these days and times

Day Time
Monday to Friday 7:00 am to 6:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Public Holidays 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm

No Congestion Charge time

Day Time
Monday to Thursday 6:01 pm to 6:59 am (next morning)
Friday 6:01 pm to 11:59 am (Saturday morning)
Saturday 6:01 pm to 11:59 am (Sunday morning)
Sunday 6:01 pm to 6:59 am (Monday morning)
Public Holidays 6:01 pm to 6:59 am (the next morning on a working day) or

6:01 pm to 11:59 am (next morning on Saturday, Sunday, or public holiday)

Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day No Congestion Charge

3. Consider parking outside the congestion charge zone.

After parking your car, ride convenient public transportation such as a tube, bus, or river bus, or even rent a bicycle to reach your destination.

Carlisle Car Parking

Make sure to park your car in the area where parking is allowed. If it is a paid parking area, you need to consider the fares for the parking.

You would be crazy to find that the parking fares are more than £15 (the congestion charge fare per day) when you get your car.

4. Pay attention to the discounts and exemptions for the congestion charge fares.

There are ways to get discounts and some exemptions to the charge if you are eligible.

Check with TfL if you can get discounts and exemptions.

Discounts and exemptions apply to the following:

  • Residents– 90% discount
  • Blue Badge holders– 100% discount
  • Breakdown vehicles accredited to BS EN ISO9001:2008 – 100% discount
  • Motor tricycles – 100% discount
  • 9-seater vehicles (9 or higher) – 100% discount
  • Battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – Cleaner Vehicle discount
  • Roadside recovery vehicle registered with the DVLA – 100% discount

If you are among the above mentioned, here’s how you can apply for a discount or exemption.

More tips to avoid the congestion charge in London.

Drive carefully and pay special attention to the road signs. You may see the road sign with congestion charging just as the below image.

Congestion Zone

Once you see the sign, it means that you are just outside the boundary of congestion charge zone.

Choose another way to avoid going into the congestion charge zone.

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