MSE News

Drivers dropping off passengers at Heathrow Airport will have to pay a £5 fee from today – here’s how it works

Drivers dropping off passengers at Heathrow Airport will now be charged £5 as part of new rules that come into force today (1 November). But there is a way around it if you have slightly more time on your hands. Here's all you need to know.

From 1 November, drivers entering the passenger drop-off areas at Heathrow will be required to pay £5, even if they only briefly enter the designated areas. Heathrow is the last major airport in the UK to introduce such a charge, which the airport says is part of a long-term sustainability strategy.

The drop-off areas are located just outside the terminal and allow drivers to set down passengers about fly. Drivers entering the zones must now pay the £5 charge on the day or by 11.59pm the following day, otherwise they will be liable for an £80 fine. Drivers can also pay in advance.

Drop-off charges do not affect passenger pick-ups, which will continue to take place via the airport’s car parks. You cannot pick up passengers from Heathrow's drop-off zones.

See our Cheap Airport Parking guide for tips on cutting costs. 

Heathrow will use number plate recognition to enforce the charge

Each vehicle will be charged £5 for a drop-off within the designated terminal zones. 

The charge will apply to Heathrow’s terminal forecourts – the drop-off areas located in front of the terminal buildings. There are signs on the road in and around the airport so drivers should be able to clearly see where the zones are.

Heathrow uses automatic number plate recognition cameras to enforce the charge. The fee will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You need to pay the charge by 11.59pm the following day 

You can either pay in advance, on the day or by 11.59pm the following day after entering the zone. Drivers are responsible for paying the charge themselves.

There are three ways to pay:

  • Online: You can use the online service to pay in advance, on the day or by 11.59pm the next day. You need to create an account on the Heathrow website. You can then pay for a single drop-off or pre-pay for multiple drop-offs. To pay online, head to your account and follow the instructions – you will need your vehicle registration number.

  • Via autopay: To use this service you will need to create an account via the Heathrow website. Here you can register your vehicle to your account and set up autopay to automatically pay if you know you’ll be visiting the drop-off points regularly.

  • By telephone: This automated service will allow you to pay for single drop-offs or multiple visits. Just call 0330 008 5600.

The charges cannot be paid at an airport ticket machine or within the drop-off zones.

You can be fined up to £80 if you fail to pay

If you fail to make a payment by 11.59pm the day after your drop-off, you could be charged an £80 fine. This will fall to £40 if you pay within 14 days.

Blue badge holders don't need to pay the charge

If you hold either a valid UK or European Economic Area blue badge, then you do not need to pay the £5 charge. If you are a passenger and are being dropped off by someone with a blue badge, then the driver is also exempt. You will need to apply for this fee waiver either before travel, the day of drop-off or by 11.59pm the following day.

You will be asked to provide the following information as part of your application:

  • Vehicle registration number
  • Visit date
  • Blue badge number
  • Email address
  • Flight number
  • Image of the front and rear of the blue badge

A 100% discount will also apply to your vehicle if it is recorded at the DVLA in one of these categories:

  • As a roadside recovery vehicle
  • A two-wheeled motorbike
  • Heathrow valet parking
  • Bus or coach

Black cabs are exempt from paying the fee - for now

Black cab taxis will get a 100% discount. However, this will only apply until 1 April 2022. It is unclear what will happen after this date but we will update the piece once we know more. 

This discount is only applicable for black cabs though; all other taxis must pay the £5 charge. This includes taxi companies such as Uber, Bolt and Ola, but it is up to each individual company as to whether they foot the bill themselves or add this to passengers' bills.

You can avoid the fee by dropping passengers off at long stay car parks 

If you can't or don't want to pay the new charge charge, you can drive to one of Heathrow's long stay car parks and stay there for free for 30 minutes. Passengers can then take a free bus transfer to their terminal. It takes between five and 18 minutes to get to your terminal depending on which car park you're coming from, so it's only an option if you allow for the extra time it will take. It is not possible to walk from any long stay car park.

Drivers can also head to short stay car parks but charges apply from entry. 

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!