Do I have to pay the London T-Charge in a classic car?

London’s long threatened ‘T-Charge’ has now arrived in an attempt to improve the UK capital’s air quality. Here’s what you need to know as a classic car owner

Drivers of older vehicles and certain classic cars, deemed 'more polluting' by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and his council, will now have to pay an extra £10 charge for the pleasure of driving through central London. This brings the total cost of personal travel through the Soho, Westminster, Bloomsbury, Finsbury and Covent Garden districts to £21.50 per day, unless you live within certain affected areas, where you’ll receive a 90% discount.

The Toxicity (T-) Charge has been commissioned in a bid to reduce pollutant levels in London’s atmosphere, improving air quality and reducing the number of deaths linked to contaminants omitted from vehicles pre-Euro IV legislation. Those with petrol or diesel cars, 4x4s, minibuses, vans, HGVs, buses, motorhomes and coaches all need to meet Euro 4 emissions standards to avoid the extra cost, whereas quadricycles or motorised tricycles have a minimum standard of Euro 3.

However, motorcycles, taxis and private hire vehicles licensed by Transport for London are not subject to the T-charge.

The new fee adds to the already existing £11.50 congestion charge, operating within the same zone and payable during the same hours – 0700 to 1800, Monday through Friday. Officially recognised as the ‘Emissions Surcharge’, this new legislation applies to nearly all cars registered before January 1, 2006 – when Euro 4 standards became mandatory. Transport for London has advised motorists to check their V5C registration document, which lists the date of first registration.

Yet, classics of a certain age appear to be exempt from paying the extra £11.50. Vehicles manufactured before 1973 and vehicles within the historic tax class (40 years and older), can still scoot through the city for the minimum amount.

You can run your registration plate through the online T-Charge checker here to check your eligibility for exemption.

Not to say there aren’t bugs in the system – AutoClassics checked two second generation Range Rovers, a 4.6-litre V8 registered in October 1999 alongside a September 1999 2.5 diesel. The V8 was exempt, whereas the diesel was subject to the full whack.

The same story applied to two similar 1993 Mercedes-Benz W202s, and out of four 1980s Ford Sierras we ran through the checker system, only two were subject to payment. These classics certainly don't pass Euro 4 emissions – whether the system will be updated to coincide with the written guidelines is yet to be seen.

The T-charge is different from the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) scheme. If your car meets the standards for the T-charge scheme, you may not meet the far tighter regulations for the upcoming ULEZ. There is also the ULEZ checker on the Transport for London website here.

How do I pay the T-charge?

Drivers can pay the extra T-charge in the same way as the current congestion charge – through the Transport for London website or by the auto-payment system that debits your account on a monthly basis. If you already use the auto-pay option, the T-charge will be applied automatically.

There is a penalty charge if you don’t pay by midnight on the charging day after driving in or through the zones.

You can pay for the T-Charge here.

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