HomeGeneral TravelHeathrow Airport is now charging a drop-off fee (How to pay &...

Heathrow Airport is now charging a drop-off fee (How to pay & How to avoid)

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In what can only be described as a pathetic nickel & dime move, Heathrow Airport has finally started to charge the £5/$6.85 drop-off fee that it has been threatening to introduce for well over a year. This post takes a look at who has to pay the fee, how the fee can be paid, and how travelers arriving at Heathrow by car can avoid paying the fee.

Who pays Heathrow’s £5 rip-off fee?

Most people who are being dropped off outside one of Heathrow’s terminals by private car, a rideshare service, or a taxi service that isn’t a London “Black Cab” (i.e. a taxi licensed with London Taxi and Private Hire) now have to pay the new £5 drop-off fee or will have the drop-off fee added to their fare.

London’s black cabs (licensed with London Taxi and Private Hire) are being given a temporary 100% discount until 1 April 2022 while Transport For London conducts a public consultation (which will cost a lot of money and which will do nothing) to give the taxis time to adjust their meter charges to incorporate the drop-off fee.

If you hold a valid UK or European Economic Area (EEA) Blue badge (primarily issued to people with mobility issues), you’re eligible to apply for a 100% discount even if you don’t own a vehicle or drive. You can apply for a discount for the vehicle you are being dropped off in.

Roadside recovery vehicles, two-wheeled motorbikes, cars using Heathrow Valet Parking, and buses/coaches are also given a 100% discount.

Lastly, and as if we needed any proof that this charge has nothing to do with being kinder to the environment and everything to do with getting more cash for Heathrow’s owners, the airport has confirmed that there are no discounts or exemptions for electric vehicles.

How do you get charged & how do you pay?

There are no ticket barriers at the entry points to Heathrow’s terminals so license plate (number plate) readers are being used to make sure that anyone liable to pay the £5 drop-off fee gets charged.

You can pay the fee online and in advance (you can load an account with funds that will then be debited every time the car you register with Heathrow enters a drop-off zone), you can pay for a single drop-off online on the day of drop-off or by midnight on the following day, or you can pay by phone.

Businesses can also set up accounts (here) which will allow them to register multiple vehicles and set up an autopay feature.

Blue Badge holders must register for their 100% discount here and more information on what is required to apply for a Blue Badge discount can be found here.

The £5 drop-off fee cannot be paid in the airport terminals, in the drop-off zones, or at any of the parking facilities at the airport, and failure to pay will see the registered keeper of the vehicle that failed to pay the drop-off fee charged £80/$110 (reduced to £40/$55 if paid within 14 days).

Note: Heathrow charges per drop-off so if you need to do a drop-off at two different terminals during the same trip you will have to pay the drop-off fee twice.

How to avoid the charge

Aside from the obvious (arrive in an exempt vehicle or arrive by train), the only way to avoid Heathrow’s £5 drop-off fee if you’re arriving by car is to be dropped off at one of the airport’s long-term car parking facilities and to then take a free bus to the airport terminal.

No doubt some people will arrange to be dropped off just outside the drop-off zones in an attempt to avoid the charge, but the lack of sidewalks on the roads approaching the terminals, the fast-moving traffic, and the fact that some cars will probably have to drive into the drop-off area just to turn around, all make this a monumentally stupid idea. Please don’t do this.

Bottom Line

As of 1 November 2021 Heathrow is changing a £5/$6.80 fee for access to the drop-off zones outside of the airport’s terminals. Some exceptions are in place but unless you’re happy being dropped off at one of the airport’s long-term car parks, arriving at Heathrow just got a little bit more expensive.

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    • Not an option unfortuately, arrivals pick up is only via the carparks (which will cost a fee that I think is more than £5) and Heathrow has cameras everywhere.

  1. Can anyone confirm if, and where there are warning signs about the charge, before you reach the ‘point of no return’ for the drop-off zone.
    My wife got caught by this when trying to find the T5 Covid testing centre, the Sat-Nav directed her through the drop-off zone.


  2. This charge is a disgrace. They are robing us blind .we have just endured covid and most peoples funds are extremely tight. The cost of living ,fuel,gas, electricity and then they hit us with this .the ncp car park makes a fortune out of taxi drivers having to park in the short stay. It needs everyone to complain

  3. I drive a company car, do I pay this charge ? I’ve tried doing it online and it just says email address invalid ? How am I supposed to pay ?

  4. It’s possible to register my bank details if i enter heathrow aeroport so i can avoid penalty

  5. I dropped my daughter off at Luton Airport the other day. That used to be £3 NOW it’s £5 !! At least it takes cash/card at barriers.
    But it’s still a RIP OFF.

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