The Heathrow Drop Off charge: what you need to know

How long do you have to pay once you have been in the drop off zone? Is it a one-off payment? How long can I stay in the drop off zone? All information and more below.

Is this the first time you’re hearing about the Heathrow drop-off charge? Not sure what it means for you when you drop-off at London’s airport? Well thankfully for you, you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide we’ll provide you with the answers to all your questions regarding this drop off charge: How does it work? Do you need to pay the charge? What happens if you don’t pay? How are taxi drivers impacted?

All these questions and many more will be answered down below, so what are you waiting for? Read on to find out more about the Heathrow drop off charge!

Do you need to pay to drop off at Heathrow?

Courtesy of Business Traveller.

Yes. You’ll always need to pay a £5 charge every time you and the vehicle you’re driving enters one of the Heathrow Airport terminal drop-off areas.

This charge was introduced back in November 2021, in response to the impact the pandemic had on the airport. On the Heathrow Airport website, it states: “The charge allows us to continue investing in congestion-reducing, Surface-Access projects, and protecting jobs at Heathrow”. The airport uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to identify your vehicle and mark it as needed to pay the drop-off charge.

As well at that, from August 2023, it was announced that any “non-compliant vehicles using Heathrow’s Terminal Drop Off areas will also have to pay a £12.50 daily charge as part of the expansion of Transport for London’s Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)”.

There’s not currently any information around whether this is a permanent change made by Heathrow Airport or whether it could be removed in the future, so for now, be sure to be prepared to pay the charge when you drop off passengers at the charging zones!

How to pay Heathrow Drop Off charges

Courtesy of Which.

There’s numerous ways you can pay a Heathrow Drop Off charge:

  • Online
  • Via automated telephone service
  • Via AutoPay


To pay for a Heathrow Terminal Drop Off charge online, you need to visit this page on the Heathrow Airport website.

On that page, you’ll be asked to provide the registration number of the vehicle that’s entered, or will enter, the drop-off zone. Once you’ve confirmed the vehicle, you’ll be asked for your email, and how many drop offs you plan to make. The more drop offs you make, the more you’ll be expected to pay (e.g., 1 drop off = £5, 2 drop offs = £10 etc.), and your final total price will be displayed before you make your payment.

Automated telephone service

Rather than paying through the Heathrow website, you can instead pay via the automated telephone service. The number to call is: 0330 008 5600. This service will take you through the same process as the website.


The final way you can pay for your Heathrow Terminal Drop Off charge is via AutoPay. Registering to this service allows you to the airport to automatically debit your payment card for each drop-off charge you make.  

How does Heathrow Drop Off AutoPay work?

AutoPay is operated by APCOA parking, and it allows anyone to add a vehicle or multiple vehicles to their account and set up an automated payment system. This system ensures that whenever a driver enters a terminal drop off zone in a vehicle they’ve registered through their account, they will be charged automatically and on time, meaning they wouldn’t be fined by the airport for a late payment.

AutoPay essentially removes the hassle of having to manually pay for each time you drop off a passenger at a terminal drop-off zone, which can be extremely beneficial for taxi drivers, for example, who make regular trips dropping passengers off to the airport.

When to pay Heathrow Drop Off charges

The drop off charge needs to be paid by midnight on the day after you’ve made your visit to Heathrow Airport. There’re no exceptions for this deadline all year round, and as soon as you enter the drop-off zone, you become immediately liable to pay, depending on the vehicle you’re driving.

Alternatively, you can also choose to pay for one or multiple drop offs online in advance if you like, but be aware that there is no airport ticket machine at Heathrow that can be used to pay this charge.

What happens if you don’t pay Heathrow drop off charge?

If you were to fail to pay the drop off fee before the midnight deadline we’ve just mentioned, you would become susceptible to a fine.

You’d receive a £80 Parking Charge Notice (PCN) from Heathrow Airport, which would be halved to £40 if you pay the fine within 40 days of receiving it. You can view evidence relating to the fine, pay it, or challenge it via APCOA’s dedicated payment page.

Can you pay Heathrow Drop Off charge late?

No, on the whole, you’re not allowed to pay the Heathrow Terminal Drop Off Charge late. However, you can always try to get in touch with Heathrow Airport or APCOA and see if there’re any circumstances where you can delay when you need to pay your terminal drop off charge.

How to appeal Heathrow drop off charge?

If you feel you’re undeserving of being charged for the drop off or receiving a fine, and require a refund, you can email the team at APCOA or call their customer service support on 0333 200 7459.

What is the Heathrow Terminal Drop Off zones time limit?

Currently at Heathrow Airport, there’s no time limit in place that states how long you can stay in the terminal drop off zones. This means that, technically, you can stay in the drop off area as long as you like, as you pay the charge before or after you make the drop off. Heathrow Airport is quite unique in this case, whilst other London airports do have time limits ranging from 10 to 15 minutes.

We would warn you though that even though there is no time limit, you might get some frustrated or concerned looks from members of staff or security at the airport if you hang around in the drop off zone too long. What’s more, any vehicles left unattended in one of the zones will be removed by the police, so make sure you always stay in your vehicle!

Who is exempt from the Heathrow Terminal Drop Off charge?

Heathrow Airport have outlined some individuals and vehicles which are deemed to be exempt form the terminal drop off charge. These are as follows:

Blue Badge Holders

Blue badge holders are eligible to apply for 100% discount on their drop off charge, regardless of whether they drive or own a vehicle. This means a family member, friend or taxi driver could drop you off for free if you have the Blue Badge discount.

You do need to apply for your Blue Badge discount though, and each drop off requires a new application which you can do up to three months before the drop off, or by midnight the day after the drop off. You can start submitting your Blue Badge holder discount application by clicking here.

Emergency and Military services

Exemptions will be automatically applied to emergency service vehicles, such as fire engines, ambulances or police cars, and military vehicles. Drivers of these vehicles need not apply for a charge exemption.

Heathrow permitted operational vehicles are also exempt from the drop off charge.

Certain public vehicle categories

If the DVLA (Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency) deems your vehicle to fall under one of the following categories, you’ll automatically be discounted for 100% of the drop off charge:

·       Buses and coaches

·       Two-wheeled motorbikes

·       Roadside recovery vehicles

There’s also a lot of talk out there around the eligibility of electric vehicles for charge exemption, but the truth is, electric vehicles are not exempt from the drop-off charge and their drivers will not benefit from any discount.

Are taxis exempt from Heathrow Drop Off charge?

There was a time when taxis were exempt form the Heathrow Drop Off charge, but that is now no longer the case. Since 2022, all taxis and private hire vehicles that enter terminal drop off zones will be charged will a £5 charge.

Heathrow Airport recommends that black cab and private-hire vehicles drivers register for a APCOA parking business account, because this allows these drivers to benefit from the AutoPay function and better manage their drop offs.

Click here to sign up for a business account.

Where is Heathrow Drop Off free?

Courtesy of Compare The Airport Parking.

The best free, drop-off alternative to the terminal zones at Heathrow Airport is the Long Stay car parks. The Long Stay car parks allow for 30 minutes of free parking, and from there, arriving passengers can jump on a free shuttle bus to get to their terminal.

These buses are also free, and make for a great way to get around the airport. Depending on which terminal you need to get to, the shuttle should take between 5 to 20 minutes. They even have free Wi-Fi!

To learn more about Heathrow’s Long Stay car parks and how to get a parking quote, visit the Long Stay parking guide on the Heathrow Airport website.

Can you pick up from the terminal drop off zones at Heathrow Airport?

No, you’re not able to pick up any passengers from the airport’s drop off zones. However, you won’t be charged for any passenger pick-ups which take place at the airport’s car parks, so that’s worth bearing in mind.

You can find out more about the rules around pick-ups at Heathrow Airport here.

Other UK Airport drop off charges (2024)

Sadly, Heathrow Airport is not the only airport in the UK that charges for drop offs. Recently, almost all UK airports have introduced a drop off charge, and this is for several reasons:

  • To reduce air pollution
  • To manage congestion
  • For re-investment into airport infrastructure
  • To help airports keep air fares low

How justifiable these charges is still up for debate, but nevertheless, take a look below at all the drop off charges at the UK’s biggest airports.

UK AirportTime PeriodDrop Off Fees (2024)Further Information
Aberdeen15 mins£5.50Additional £1 charge for each extra minute that you stay.
Belfast City10 mins£3£6 for up to 20 mins, £18 for up to 45 mins.
Belfast International10 mins£3£5 for up to 20 mins, £10 for up to an hour.
Birmingham15 mins£5 
Bournemouth30 mins£5£7.50 for stays up to an hour.
Bristol10 mins£6£8 for 20 mins, £12 for up to 40 mins, £25 for an hour-long stay.
Cardiff5 minsFree£3 charge for every 5 minutes after free stay period.
East Midlands15 mins£5Additional £1 charge for each extra minute that you stay.
Edinburgh10 mins£5Additional £1 charge for each extra minute that you stay.
Glasgow15 mins£5.50Additional £1 charge for each extra minute that you stay. Electric vehicles get free access.
Inverness10 minsFreeCharges £3.50 for stays up to 30 mins.
Leeds Bradford10 mins£5Charges £7 for up to 20 minutes.
Liverpool10 mins£5£10 for 20 mins, £25 for up to an hour.
London CityNo confirmed time limit.Free 
London Gatwick10 mins£6Additional £1 charge for each extra minute that you stay. Max stay is 30 mins. 
London Luton10 mins£5Additional £1 charge for each extra minute that you stay. Max stay is 1 hour.
London Stansted15 mins£7Costs £25 for stays over 15 minutes.
Manchester5 mins£5£6 for up to 10 minutes, £25 for any longer stays.
Newcastle10 mins£4£7 for up to 30 mins, £11 for up to an hour.
Southampton20 mins£7Via Express Drop Off.
Information accurate as of 20th March 2024.

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