Oxford ZEZ

Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) – A complete guide

Last updated January 26th, 2024

Following the success of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), many councils across the UK have implemented their own emissions-based chargeable zones with a view to improving air quality.

Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Newcastle have all launched their own Clean Air Zones (CAZs). (Whilst a Manchester CAZ was proposed, the plans have been on hold since February 2022 - and a CAZ is not a part of Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Plan.)

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) have also been implemented in several Scottish cities, including Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh (with a different set of regulations than the original London LEZ).

Oxford also introduced a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) with a view to reducing CO2 emissions and city centre congestion. Read our guide to learn all about the Oxford ZEZ, including where it operates, the charges that apply, which vehicles are exempt – and the penalties that may apply if you fail to pay the ZEZ charge.

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Does Oxford have a Low Emission Zone (LEZ)?

Oxford currently has a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ), which is a chargeable emissions-based zone, much like the LEZ that operates in London.

However, the Oxford ZEZ has its own set of exemption criteria. For instance, only fully electric cars (and other specific exempt vehicles) can travel within the designated zone free of charge. All other vehicles face a daily charge of between £2 and £10 (depending on their emissions levels) when they travel within the zone.

When did the Oxford ZEZ launch?

The first phase of the Oxford ZEZ (covering one core area of the city centre) was implemented on 28th February 2022. A second phase (covering a much wider area within the city) has also been proposed but not yet implemented.

Why was the Oxford ZEZ implemented?

The ZEZ is designed to encourage motorists in and around Oxford to switch to more environmentally friendly vehicles or use public transport. These plans were set out and agreed to by both the council and Oxford residents with the aim of reducing traffic and pollution within the city centre.

Where is the Oxford ZEZ?

The Oxford ZEZ currently covers several busy streets within Oxford’s city centre including:

  • St. Michael’s Street.
  • New Road.
  • Market Street.
  • Bonn Square.
  • Ship Street.
  • Cornmarket Street.
  • Queen Street.
  • New Inn Hall Street.
  • Shoe Lane.

Oxford ZEZ phase 2: Which areas will be affected?

The second phase of the Oxford ZEZ is expected to cover a much wider area (extending from Jericho to Lady Margaret Hall along the north border, from St. Ebbe’s to the Cherwell River along the south border - and from the train line to Great Mill Pond Mead).

Please note: These plans are subject to consultation and may change.

Oxford ZEZ map

The map below shows the currently operational first phase area of the Oxford ZEZ (and the areas earmarked for the proposed second phase):

Oxford ZEZ map

Source: Oxford Zero Emission Zone

When does the Oxford ZEZ operate?

Oxford’s ZEZ operates between 7am and 7pm every day of the week.

Which vehicles are subject to the Oxford ZEZ charge?

Zero emission vehicles (and others meeting the ZEZ exemption requirements listed further below) are exempt from the charges.

All other vehicles travelling within the Oxford ZEZ during its operating hours are liable to pay a daily charge.

How much is the Oxford ZEZ charge?

Depending on their vehicle type, non-exempt drivers are charged between £2 and £10 per day for travelling within the Oxford ZEZ. These charges are expected to double to between £4 and £20 in August 2025, following the proposed second phase rollout.

Oxford ZEZ charges

Daily charges by vehicle band and emissions

Vehicle band Emissions level Daily charge (from 28th February 2022) Proposed daily charge from August 2025
Zero emission vehicle (ZEV) 0 g/km CO2 £0 £0
Ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) Emits less than 75g/km CO2. Two or three-wheeled vehicles emitting more than 0g/km CO2. (National Ultra-low Emission Truck standards will be adopted for heavy goods vehicles [HGVs] once defined.) £2 £4
Low emission vehicle (LEV) Vehicles with four or more wheels that meet the Euro 4/IV petrol or Euro 6/VI diesel standard. £4 £8
All other vehicles Any vehicles failing to meet any of the above standards. £10 £20

Which vehicles are exempt from Oxford’s ZEZ charges?

Just as some vehicles qualify for CAZ and ULEZ exemption - certain vehicles can travel within the Oxford ZEZ free of charge.

Vehicles exempt from paying Oxford’s ZEZ charges include:

  • Some recovery vehicles.
  • Hackney carriages licenced by Oxford City Council.
  • Construction vehicles.
  • Emergency services vehicles.
  • Military vehicles.
  • Agricultural vehicles, such as tractors.
  • Hearses.
  • Historical vehicles.
  • Local buses.

Many exemptions come with further requirements to be met by the vehicle or driver, so always double-check which of Oxford’s ZEZ charges apply to your vehicle.

Enter your registration number into Oxford ZEZ checker tool from Oxfordshire City Council to confirm:

  • How much you will need to pay if you travel within the ZEZ.
  • Whether you are registered for a discount.

Are motorcycles and mopeds exempt?

Motorcycles and mopeds that emit more than 0g/km CO2 are liable to pay a charge of £2 per day (expected to rise to £4 per day in August 2025).

Who is eligible for discounted Oxford ZEZ rates?

Some drivers are eligible for discounts on the Oxford ZEZ charge, including:

  • Blue badge holders.
  • Healthcare workers.
  • Community transport vehicles.
  • Vehicles belonging to businesses located within the ZEZ.
  • Students moving to or from the Oxford ZEZ (in mitigating financial circumstances).
  • Residents living within the ZEZ.

Again, if in any doubt, use the Oxford ZEZ checker tool to confirm whether you are eligible for a discounted rate.

How will I know when I’m entering the Oxford ZEZ?

The Oxford ZEZ is marked by road signs warning drivers that they are approaching and entering the zone, so it’s unlikely that you’ll enter without realising.

However, if you do inadvertently drive within the zone in a non-compliant vehicle, you will be liable to pay the relevant charge.

How is the Oxford ZEZ enforced?

CCTV within the Oxford ZEZ uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to detect non-compliant vehicles. Any drivers caught evading the Oxford ZEZ charges will face penalties.

How do I pay the Oxford ZEZ charge?

  • You can pay the Oxford ZEZ charge via the Oxfordshire City Council website.
  • You can pay up to six days prior to your journey (or up to six days afterwards). Please check the dates of your planned journeys carefully, as Oxfordshire City Council will not issue refunds for any unused ZEZ entries that have been paid for in advance.
  • Use the ZEZ checker tool on the page to find out what charge (if any) will apply to your vehicle.

What are the penalty charges for non-payment?

If you fail to pay the Oxford ZEZ charge within six days, you’ll receive a £60 penalty. This will be issued to you in the form of a PCN. You’ll have 28 days from the date of issue to either pay or to make a formal appeal.

(If the fine is paid within 14 days, it will be reduced by half to £30.)

How do I know if my car is ZEZ compliant?

Only cars that don’t produce CO2 emissions are ZEZ compliant – this means that only electric vehicles are generally compliant. Even low-emission vehicles must pay Oxford ZEZ charges.

(Vehicles on the exemption list above do not have to pay ZEZ charges, regardless of their emissions levels.)

How can you avoid the Oxford ZEZ charges?

The only surefire ways to avoid the Oxford ZEZ charges are to own a ZEZ-exempt vehicle or refrain from driving within Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone during its hours of operation.

Can you drive through Oxford City Centre?

Yes, you can drive through certain areas of Oxford City Centre. However, you should bear in mind that Oxford is a small city and has many pedestrianised areas and traffic restrictions in place.

Therefore, if feasible, it may be easier to leave your car at home and utilise public transport instead. The Oxford ZEZ was implemented to encourage drivers of high-polluting vehicles to refrain from travelling within the centre and use alternative modes of transport.