Congestion Charge and Foreign Embassies

Meeting: 
MQT on 2006-11-18
Session date: 
November 18, 2006
Reference: 
2006/2384
Question By: 
Damian Hockney
Organisation: 
One London Party
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Answer

Answer for Congestion Charge and Foreign Embassies

Answer for Congestion Charge and Foreign Embassies

Answered By: 
The Mayor

There are around 19 embassies out of 193 diplomatic missions in London that are regularly not paying the charge, and averaging more than one outstanding penalty charge notice per day. The United States tops the list with £1 million of outstanding fines, since it unilaterally decided to stop paying the congestion charge in July 2005. United States claims that it did not have to pay the congestion charge because it claimed that it was a tax, from which diplomats are exempt. However, they have never explained why their embassies pay similar congestion charges in Singapore and Oslo. The United Kingdom Government has repeatedly told the US Embassy that the congestion charge is not a tax, under British law, it is a charge, and that the embassy must pay. TfL continues to work with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to explore every avenue to recover the outstanding debts. However, due to the diplomatic status of embassy staff, it is unlikely we will be successful in pursuing this through the courts.