Some drivers and operators of specific vehicles may not need to pay to drive in the Portsmouth Clean Air Zone (CAZ). These are known as exemptions, and there are both national and local exemptions.

Read more about national exemptions at the Gov.uk website.

In Portsmouth, we’re offering additional exemptions to some vehicles, as well as time-limited ‘sunset periods’. If you operate a non-compliant vehicle that would normally be charged to drive in the CAZ, applying for an exemption will allow you to avoid a charge.

You’ll need to apply for an exemption or sunset period through an online form, which will be available later this year. You’ll also need to supply evidence to prove you’re eligible.

Which vehicles are exempt for life?

Emergency Service Vehicles

All vehicles that have an Emergency Service Vehicle tax class are exempt from paying a charge to use the Portsmouth CAZ. This includes:

  • Ambulances
  • Fire Engines
  • Fire Service vehicles
  • Police vehicles
  • Mine Rescue vehicles
  • Lifeboat Haulage vehicles
  • Lighthouse Authority vehicles

If your emergency service vehicle is not listed, but you think it may be eligible for this exemption, please contact us.

You’ll need to provide the following pieces of evidence to support your application:

  • Vehicle list from an Emergency Service Fleet manager, to be updated at least yearly
  • V5 document (if the vehicles is not in an Emergency Service Vehicle tax class)

Volunteer vehicles that support emergency services are also exempt. You’ll need to supply a V5 document, as well as a request from the relevant emergency service on headed paper as your evidence.

Specialist Heavy Vehicles

Vehicles in the following tax classes are exempt from paying a charge to use the Portsmouth CAZ:

  • Special Vehicles
  • Recovery Vehicles
  • Special Concessionary Vehicles
  • General Haulage Vehicles

If your Specialist Heavy Vehicle is not listed, but you think it may be eligible for this exemption, please contact us.

You’ll need to provide the following pieces of evidence to support your application:

  • V5 document
  • Photographs of the front, back and both sides of the vehicle
  • Proof that your vehicle is unsuitable for retrofitting, or an evidenced explanation for why purchasing a new vehicle is not economically feasible for you.

These vehicles will be exempt for as long as the Portsmouth CAZ is in operation, but you’ll need to renew your vehicle with Portsmouth City Council at least every year.

Which vehicles are exempt for a limited time?

Wheelchair Accessible Taxis

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) that are licensed as either a private hire vehicle or Hackney Carriage are exempt from paying a charge to use the Portsmouth CAZ for the first six months after the CAZ launches.

You’ll need to provide the following pieces of evidence to support your application:

  • Your vehicle licence, if you’re licensed with Portsmouth City Council

If you’re licensed outside of Portsmouth City Council, you’ll also need to supply:

  • V5 document
  • Photographs of the front, back and both sides of the vehicle

You’ll also need to provide proof of intent to upgrade your vehicle, such as an application to a Clean Air Fund grant.

If you’re not applying for a grant, you’ll need state that you’re committed to upgrading your vehicle on your exemption application, and if you don’t upgrade, you’ll be liable to pay the CAZ charge after the six-month period.

Non-commercial Vintage Buses

Vintage buses that are not used for commercial purposes are exempt from paying a charge to use the Portsmouth CAZ for up to ten days per year. These don’t have to be consecutive.

The bus will need to have been first registered 20-39 years ago, and you’ll need to provide the following pieces of evidence to support your application:

  • V5 document
  • Photographs of the front, back and both sides of the vehicle

You don’t need to renew the application, but you must contact us with any change in vehicle ownership.

You’ll need to provide Portsmouth City Council with any dates you intend to travel through the CAZ at least two weeks before you travel.

If you know these dates when you apply, you can list them as part of your application. If you don’t know the dates yet, you can still apply for an exemption and let us know specific dates by calling 023 9283 4593.

School and Community Transport

Vehicles that provide community and school transport are exempt from paying to drive through the Portsmouth CAZ for two years from launch. This includes:

  • Minibuses registered as taxis
  • Double-decker buses that provide school transport.

For this exemption, school transport means any vehicle that is used in transporting children to and from school, and does not include transport used for school trips or off-site activities.

If you provide a regular school or community transport service, but don’t fall into one of these categories, please contact us to discuss further.

You’ll need to provide the following pieces of evidence to support your application:

  • V5 document for each vehicle
  • Photographs of the front, back and both sides of the vehicle
  • Proof of services provided. This could be a contract, or a section 19 or a section 22 permit

These vehicles will be exempt for two years from the launch of the Portsmouth, but you’ll need to renew your vehicle with Portsmouth City Council at least every year.

How will the Clean Air Zone cameras know that I don’t have to pay?

Once your vehicle has been validated by Portsmouth City Council, its details will be added to a whitelist. The cameras will automatically compare the registration number against this whitelist, and dismiss any images of vehicles that are exempt from paying.

Please note that some locally exempt vehicles may not appear on the Government’s vehicle checker, and could show up as needing to pay a charge in the Portsmouth CAZ even if your vehicle has been granted a local exemption. Your vehicle will still be exempt if you’ve successfully applied for an exemption.

Are any other vehicles exempt?

We’re considering further exemptions for a small number of affected vehicles, although details are still being discussed. If you believe your vehicle should be exempt from paying the charge and is not listed above, please contact us to discuss this further.