Birmingham Congestion Charge: Costs, Alternative Travel Options

The Birmingham congestion charge is designed to lower traffic emissions in the Birmingham Clean Air Zone (CAZ). 

But, you don’t have to worry about paying it if you’re driving a compliant vehicle.

So, how does it work, and who’s exempt from paying this charge?

Let’s discover how much the congestion charge costs and how you pay it, which areas are within the clean air zone, which vehicles are exempt from paying the charge, and more. 

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How Much Is the Birmingham Congestion Charge and How Do I Pay It?

High polluting vehicles that drive in Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) have to pay the following CAZ charges: 

  • Cars, taxis (including a private hire vehicle), vans, and LGVs (large goods vehicles): £8 per day
  • Coaches, buses, and HGVs (heavy goods vehicles): £50 per day

You can check if your vehicle will be charged or pay the CAZ charge online. Alternatively, call 0300 029 8888 from Monday to Friday between 8 AM to 4:30 PM to get assistance.

To avoid penalties, you need to pay the daily charge 6 days before or after visiting the Birmingham City Centre.

Which Areas are Within the Birmingham Clean Air Zone?

The Clean Air Zone in Birmingham City (West Midlands) went live on 1 June 2021. It covers all roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road excluding the Middleway itself.

The Birmingham City Council has installed more than 300 signs to help you notice when you’re approaching the Clean Air Zone. So, if you’re driving around the Birmingham City Centre, keep an eye on these signs and ensure your vehicle meets the emissions standard.

Wondering which other United Kingdom areas have started introducing clean air zones?

Bath and Portsmouth have introduced clean air zones to improve air quality and combat air pollution. So, any driver should look for clean air zone signs when travelling to these areas.

Meanwhile, Bradford and cities in the Greater Manchester region will soon introduce clean air zones to improve air quality.

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Which Vehicles Are Exempt From Paying the Birmingham Congestion Charge?

To be exempt from paying the clean air zone charge, you shouldn’t be driving a non compliant vehicle that causes pollution. This means your vehicle should meet the Euro 4 emissions standard for petrol and the Euro 6 standard for diesel.

Generally, any diesel car made after 2015 and a petrol vehicle made after 2006 is compliant. Also, you won’t have to pay the Birmingham CAZ charge if you drive an electric car, a hybrid vehicle, or a gas vehicle that meets the Euro 6 emission standard.

Only the most polluting vehicles will need to pay a daily charge to drive within Birminghams Clean Air Zone. This includes buses, HGVs (lorries), LGVs (vans), and taxis that do not meet the emission standard.

However, any non-compliant commercial vehicle that drives in Birmingham City will be exempt for 1 year. Also, high polluting vehicles will be exempt for 1 year when used for visiting hospitals and care homes within the Clean Air Zone.

Do I Have to Pay the Birmingham Congestion Charge if I Live or Work in the Clean Air Zone?

There are some exemptions if you live or work in Birminghams Clean Air Zone. However, most of them are only available in the first 2 years after the Clean Air Zone implementation.

Here are some of the exemptions:

  • If your vehicle is registered to your address and you live within the Clean Air Zone, you will be exempt from paying Birminghams CAZ charge for 2 years.
  • If you live outside the Clean Air Zone but work there, you’ll be exempt for 1 year.
  • If your commercial vehicle is registered within the Clean Air Zone, you’ll be exempt for 1 year.

What Are the Alternative Travel Options in Birmingham?

Here are the various travel options that can help you avoid paying the Birmingham congestion charge:

  • Cycle or Walk: If your journey is around 2-4 miles, cycling or walking in the Birmingham City Centre would be ideal. For cycling routes, you can check out the Birmingham City Council website and visit its ‘Cycling in Birmingham’ page.
  • Public Transport: If you’ll be travelling a lot within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, public transport would be a better option than using a private hire vehicle. This will save you fuel and CAZ charge costs.
  • Car Sharing: Car sharing could also be an ideal option, as long as you’re using a compliant vehicle and not travelling long distances. There are apps that can help you find car-sharing buddies and choose to use a small private car or a larger vehicle.

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How Do I Upgrade My Car to Avoid the Birmingham Congestion Charge?

If you drive a non compliant petrol or diesel car, then it’s time for an upgrade. The best thing to do would be to buy an electric car.

This will help you avoid paying Birminghams CAZ charge and other similar penalties. Besides, the cost of running electric vehicles is much lower than that of most petrol and diesel vehicles.

The best news is that the UK government subsidises purchases of some electric vehicles and provides grants for installing home EV (electric vehicle) charging stations. 

Besides, upgrading your car will help you enjoy driving in other clean air zone areas with peace of mind. This includes places like the Bath Clean Air Zone and other LEZ (Low Emission Zone) and ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) areas.