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ULEZ and CAZ - What's the Difference?

ULEZ and CAZ - What's the Difference?

ULEZ and CAZ Zones Explained

Major cities across the UK are adopting low emission zones to reduce their environmental impact. But as more cities introduce these types of zones, it's important for drivers to understand what they are and how they impact your travel plans.

You've probably heard about London's Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) which is a government initiative designed to improve air quality in the capital. But you may not have heard of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) that have been introduced in other cities in England, such as Bristol and Bath.



ULEZ green sign


Long Story Short... What's the Difference?


What is ULEZ?

The Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London is designed to improve air quality by minimising the impact of vehicle emissions.

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What is CAZ?

A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is defined as an area where targeted action has been taken to improve air quality. These zones can be a single road or part of a city or the main city centre.

Although CAZ restrictions vary by city, most vehicles will be exempt from paying charges as they are already compliant with the emission standards.

In Bristol, over 71% of vehicles travelling through the city meet emission levels and will not be charged. Instead, charges are focussed on older and more polluting vehicles.

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Bristol Clean Air Zone MapBristol Clean Air Zone Map


London Ultra Low Emissions Zone MapLondon Ultra Low Emissions Zone Map


What area does ULEZ cover?

Since October 2021, the Ultra Low Emissions Zone covers all areas within the North and South Circular Roads, London. ULEZ is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year - with the exception of Christmas Day (25 December).


What areas do CAZ's cover?

There are a number of CAZ across England at the moment and a few coming into effect soon, including:

Bristol - Launching on November 28, 2022, and will require drivers of all older, non-compliant, vehicles to pay a daily fee to enter the zone.

Bath - Non-compliant vehicles can face a daily charge of up £100, depending on the vehicle type. Private cars and motorbikes will not be charged.

Along with Birmingham, Bradford, Portsmouth, Newcastle (Jan 2023) and Sheffield (Spring 2023).




Which vehicles need to pay the ULEZ charge?

Most vehicles need to meet the ULEZ tailpipe emissions standards or the drivers must pay a £12.50 daily charge to drive inside the zone. This includes:
Cars, motorcycles, vans and specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes). Also Residents of the Congestion Charge area.

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However, lorries, vans or specialist heavy vehicles (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses, minibuses and coaches (over 5 tonnes) do not need to pay the ULEZ charge. Instead, they will need to pay the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) charge if they do not meet the LEZ emissions standard.


Which vehicles need to pay the CAZ charge?

Which vehicles need to pay CAZ charges will depend on each city and how they group vehicles by emissions. As a general rule, the higher the vehicle tailpipe emissions, the higher the charge. For example, in Bristol, some of the charges are as follows:

CAZ charges by vehicle category




**Jargon Buster Alert**


Are LEZ and ULEZ the same thing in London?

No, LEZ and ULEZ are different things. The Low Emission Zone (LEZ) encourages the most polluting heavy diesel vehicles to avoid driving in the Greater London area and it operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, except for Christmas Day


Are a CAZ and ZEZ the same thing?

Technically no, a CAZ and ZEZ are not the same schemes and have differing requirements. In Oxford, the council introduced a Zero Emissions Zone (ZEZ) that charges all petrol and diesel-powered vehicles that enter its city centre.


Are there CAZ in Scotland and Wales?

No, they have their own schemes. In Scotland, there are currently four Low Emission Zones (LEZ) in operation in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. However, all but Glasgow currently have local grace periods in place until 2024.

In Wales, there are currently no CAZ and instead, the Welsh Government and local councils are looking at other ways to reduce air pollution in large cities. This includes a potential congestion charge in Cardiff and temporarily reducing speed limits near Wrexham.


How can Carbase help?

With more Clean Air Zones and Ultra Low Emission Zones expanding, some vans and cars may not be exempt from paying charges to enter these zones. If you're looking for a vehicle which will not be charged, consider buying your next car or van from Carbase.


Top Cars for the Bristol Clean Air Zone >

We mark all of  our compliant cars  with a green badge so you can easily see which vehicle will exempt you from charges. It'll give you peace of mind that no matter where you go, you won't be caught out by pesky low emission zone charges. Making it even easier for you to find your next car or van!

We are a RAC Approved Dealer which means that not only are all our used cars and vans rigorously tested and repaired to ensure they are up to RAC standards, but we also share their ethos and high standards when it comes to quality, integrity and exceptional customer service.

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