You don't need tickets or passes to enter the zone, and there are no tollbooths or barriers.
Cameras at entrances, exits and around the zone read your number plate. They check it against a database to work out whether you've paid already, are exempt, or have a 100 per cent discount. We keep checking the database until midnight the following charging day.
If we get a match, we automatically delete any images of your vehicle from the database.
If we don't get a match, we check and validate all the images and send Penalty Charge Notice to the registered keeper of the vehicle.
Hours of operation
07:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday.
No charge on weekends, public holidays, between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inclusive, or between 18:00 and 07:00.
Traffic signs and road markings make it clear when you are approaching, entering, and leaving the charging zone. Near or at the start of the zone, you'll see signs, which also say when the zone operates.
When to pay
You only need to pay once, no matter how many times you drive in and out of the charging zone on the same day.
You can pay in advance or on the day of travel. If you don't pay by midnight on the charging day after you drove in the zone, you'll get a Penalty Charge Notice.
Not all drivers have to pay.
By Congestion Charging Auto Pay (£9) Forget to remember with Congestion Charging Auto Pay - Register Now
By midnight on the day of travel (£10) You can pay before or after the journey on the day of travel.
By midnight the following charging day (£12) You can only pay the following day online or by phone. If you travel on a Friday you have until midnight on the following Monday to pay.
Paying in advance
You can pay up to 90 days in advance. So, for example, you could pay for one day, a month or a year.
Within the zone you will often see red C road markings close to the entry of the zone, and signs to remind you that there are cameras.
On approach directional signs and/or road markings show which routes take you into the charging zone and which don't.
Some approach lanes to the charging zone are also marked with a white symbol. On the main approach roads two types of signs show hours of operation and how much you have to pay.