A Guide to Free Parking for Electric Vehicles in London

ev car charging on uk street

By 7 min read


Electric cars are booming in popularity across the UK ­– and they’re only just getting started. With new government rules coming into force in the next few years to reduce emissions, there’s never been a better time to get an electric car. 

One of the main things that puts people off getting an electric vehicle is the access (or lack of) to charging points. But what a lot of people typically don’t realise is that there are now more EV charging points in the UK than petrol stations ­– they really are everywhere! 

Plus, some places even provide free EV parking to reward people for their low emissions! In this article, we’ll take a look at the areas in London that offer free parking for electrical vehicle owners, whether EVs are free from the congestion charge, and which borough has the most charging points available.

If the free parking tips the scale and tempts you to get yourself an EV ­– or you already have one, but don’t have access to many charging points ­– remember you can also use the government’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme to get £350 off the cost of a home charging point. Fill in this form to see how much one would cost you.

ev car charging on uk street

Is parking free for electric cars in London?

 

Unfortunately, there’s no one rule for EV parking in London – each borough has its own set of rules in place. Overall, most boroughs don’t offer free parking for electric vehicles, but provide heavily subsidised fees instead. 

The discount amount varies substantially – some boroughs charge an annual fee of £15 for EV owners, whilst others hover around the £60 mark. Either way, you’ll still be able to save a huge amount on parking if you have an electric vehicle in most London boroughs.

Below, we’ve outlined which boroughs offer free parking (rated 2), discounted permits (rated 1), or nothing at all for residents that own an electric vehicle (rated 0). The darker the shade of blue, the better.

Data found from each borough’s council website

Five best boroughs for EV parking

  1. HounslowOffers free annual parking permits for up to five vehicles if they emit 0-50g/km of CO2. To compare, if someone applies for a fifth parking permit on the most polluting vehicle band, they’ll be charged a massive £450 
  2. Barking and Dagenham – Offers free annual parking permits for up to two vehicles if they emit 0-50g/km of CO2. If you apply for additional parking permits for a third, fourth, or fifth vehicle, you’ll have to pay £45 a year for each one, which is still incredibly cheap compared to the price of £245 for the most polluting vehicles
  3. IslingtonOffers free annual parking permits for vehicles that emit 0-50g/km of CO2 – with substantial discounts for low-emission vehicles. If a car emits between 50-100g/km of CO2, the owner will only have to pay £20 for an annual permit, whereas drivers with a car that comes under the most polluting band will have to pay £490 a year 
  4. WestminsterOffers free annual parking permits for any ‘eco-vehicle’, including electric, gas, hybrid, fuel cell, and solar-fueled cars. As well as this, Westminster also implements a 50% surcharge to all pre-2015 diesel vehicles paying to park
  5. Richmond Upon ThamesOffers free annual parking permits for vehicles that emit 0-50g/km of CO2. In December 2017, City Council adopted an amendment to the Richmond Zoning Bylaw, requiring that all new residential parking spaces feature an outlet capable of providing “Level 2” EV charging

 

Five worst boroughs for EV parking

  1. BexleyAccording to the Bexley council website, this borough rates its parking permit prices by zone/area of the borough, rather than how polluting the vehicle is. Parking is free for motorcycles and motorcyclists can use any bay, but there doesn’t seem to be any similar discount for low-emission vehicles
  2. Enfield – Rather than basing parking permit prices on vehicle emissions, or which zone residents live in, Enfield’s permits are based on the size of the vehicle’s engine. It’s uncertain where electric vehicles lie in this matter, since they have motors rather than engines. There also doesn’t seem to be any free parking or discounted prices for EV owners
  3. GreenwichSimilar to Bexley, Greenwich categorises its parking permit charges by zone/area, rather than the vehicle’s emissions. Blue Badge permits and Carer Permits are free of charge, but there is no mention of a reduced fee for low-emission vehicles
  4. Havering There is very limited information on the Havering council website regarding EV parking. From the information that is available, there are no free or discounted parking permits for electric cars – instead, permit prices only fluctuate depending on how many vehicles each resident has
  5. Kingston Upon ThamesThis borough only seems to offer parking permits for residents or businesses – the information regarding different zones or types of vehicles is very limited. There are, however, certain areas that allow vehicles to park for free for up to 30 minutes, but these aren’t exclusively for EVs
Did You Know?

Electric cars very rarely need a ‘full charge‘, as they never arrive completely empty and usually just need a top-up.

Are electric cars exempt from the Congestion Charge?

 

Currently, vehicles that emit less than 75g/km of CO2, and have a minimum 20 mile zero-emission capable range, will qualify for the 100% cleaner-vehicle discount.

From 25 October 2021, the cleaner-vehicle discount will only be eligible for electric vehicles owners, and will run up until 25 December 2025. From this date, all vehicle owners – unless in receipt of another discount or exemption – will need to pay to enter the Congestion Charge zone.

You can find more information at the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles website.

ulez sign in london

Do you have to pay for parking when charging your electric car?

 

Again, there are no set rules when it comes to paying to park whilst your car is charging. Generally, you’ll find that if your workplace has charging points, it’ll be free to park up while your car recharges. 

The same also tends to apply for public charge points at supermarkets or car parks – however, each place is likely to have its own set of rules, so it’s best to double check by examining the charge point or any signs in the area before you get comfy. 

If you charge your car on a residential street without a parking permit, it’s likely you’ll need to pay for the parking spot too. There should be road signs around to let you know.

You should also note that some parking spots allow you to stay free of charge for as long as it takes you to recharge your battery, whilst others have allocated time limits. 

Did You Know?

On most modern networks, you can use mobile apps to find charge points near you. Some older public charge points require an RFID card (similar to a contactless debit card) to start charging, which can be ordered online. For app-enabled charge points, you should be able to pay for your charge in-app.

Which London borough has the most EV charging points?

 

Overall, there are 5,174 EV charging points dotted around the capital. Check out the map below to compare which borough has the most:

Data from Zap Map

What’s the verdict?

 

Driving in London isn’t for everyone: it’s busy, fast-paced, and a little cramped. But at least with an electric vehicle, you’ll be part of the small percentage able to get a parking spot on a residential street. 

If you don’t have many charging points near your home, it might be a better option for you to invest in a home charging point. You’ll save time and money in the long run! 

Plus, you’ll barely need to lift a finger whilst finding the best charging point for your home – we can do the hard work for you. Simply fill out a few details on this form, and our providers will be in touch shortly with a free quote.

Beth Howell Writer

Beth is keen to use her writing skills and passion for green living to help the environment. Whether you’re after a new boiler, a new set of solar panels, or even if you want to catch up on the latest eco news, she’s got your back.