If you’re visiting London
and renting a car and plan to drive within the congestion zone there are some things you need to know that could save you a hefty fine or penalty notice. In general, all of the main rental agents state that it is your sole responsibility to pay any charges due, whilst the car is registered to them and any fines or penalties will be sent to the rental agent, as the driver of the vehicle, they will pass the fine on to you and most likely levy a hefty administration charge.
What is the London congestion charge?
A daily levy imposed on drivers who use the roads in central London between 07:00 and 18:00 on Monday – Friday (excluding bank holidays). Covering 21 square kilometeres of central London, approximately 300 kilometers of road in total bound by Euston Road in the north, Chelsea Embankment to the south, Commercial Street to the east and Earls Court to the west. There’s no excuse for not knowing you are entering the zone as every road in and out of the zone is clearly signed with street furniture and markings on the road surface.
How Do you Pay the Congestion Charge?
You can pay the congestion charge in advance, you just need to confirm the registration number of the car and the dates you intend to drive within the zone. You can pay on the day of travel also and have up until midnight the following day (next chargeable day – so if you drive in the congestion zone on a Friday, you have until midnight the following Monday or Tuesday if a bank holiday to pay the charge. Paying after midnight on the day of travel incurs an additional £2 charge. You can pay by phone, text, post, online or in a shop, so there is no excuse for not paying. Failure to pay will result in a fine of £160 fine (reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days), plus the administration charge of the car rental agent.
Rental Agent Congestion Charge Policies Compared
Each rental agent has a different approach / policy to the London congestion zone, it’s wise to understand the policy of the rental agent before you collect your car, however we highly recommend checking the current policy on arrival. At time of writing, the following policies are applied by the individual car rental agents for driving within the London Congestion Zone.
Avis congestion charge policy
The £13.80 daily charge is deducted from your rental deposit for each day you drive within the congestion zone.
Budget congestion charge policy
The renter is responsible for paying the congestion charge, a £25 + VAT admin fee is applied should Budget have to administer any fines or penalties.
Enterprise congestion charge policy
If you collect your rental car from any Enterprise location within the London congestion zone, Enterprise will charge the first days fee (£11.50) to your rental. Any subsequent days are your responsibility to pay the charge. Any fines will be passed to the driver and an administration fee applied.
Europcar congestion charge policy
It is your responsibility to pay the congestion charge. Should you fail to pay the charge, Europcar will forward any fine received from TFL and charge an administration fee on top.
Hertz congestion charge policy
Hertz state that it is the renters responsibility to pay any charges due using any of the payment methods available from TFL. Any subsequent fines for failure to pay will be administered by Hertz and an admin charge applied.
Sixt congestion charge policy
Sixt states that all charges, fines and penalties are the responsibility of the renter and they will not do this for you. Administration charges apply for administering fines and penalties.
The Congestion Charge is administered by Transport for London, full details can be found here
The congestion charge is not to be confused with the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), see more information the Ultra Low Emission Zone in a rental car here