- Diplomats from The United States are the worst offenders, with unpaid debts of £11,929,685
- The Central African Republic, New Zealand and Paraguay owe £0
A new interactive map created by Hippo Leasing reveals which foreign diplomats owe the most (and least) in motoring fines according to exclusive figures* obtained from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Foreign diplomats owe over £111 million in unpaid motoring fines, with the Congestion Charge accounting for a staggering £109,989,245.
To put this figure into context, the total net income from the Congestion Charge was £155.9 million in 2017/18. This equates to a huge amount of lost revenue for TfL which, by law, would have been re-invested in London transport networks in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy.
When it comes to diplomats not paying their motoring fines, the American Embassy is by far the worst, owing almost £12 million. Most of this debt comes from unpaid Congestion Charge fees; £11,925,920 in fact.
Other bad offenders include Japan, Nigeria, Russia and India who have all accrued debts of over £5 million. The High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria owes the highest amount in unpaid parking fines, totaling an incredible £272,740:
Country Congestion Charge owed (£) Parking Fines owed (£) Total owed
United States (American Embassy) 11,925,920 3,765 11,929,685 Japan (Embassy of Japan) 8,021,190 2,195 8,023,385 Nigeria (High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria) 6,724,405 272,740 6,997,145 Russia (Embassy of the Russian Federation) 5,653,955 8,952 5,662,907 India (Office of the High Commissioner for India) 5,394,580 5,490 5,400,070 China (Embassy of the People’s Republic of China) 4,337,295 6,715 4,344,010 Germany (Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany) 4,288,680 5,790 4,294,470 Poland (Embassy of the Republic of Poland) 4,065,250 2,655 4,067,905 Ghana (High Commission for the Republic of Ghana) 3,655,695 7,180 3,662,875 Sudan (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan) 3,160,730 48,824 3,209,554
Under the controversial 1961 Vienna Convention, diplomats are immune from prosecution in their host country. This means they legally don’t have to pay motoring fines.
However, that doesn’t mean diplomats can’t pay them. Some nations, out of good will, consistently pay off their motoring fines despite benefitting from diplomatic immunity.
According to the FCO data, diplomats of three UK embassies (Central African Republic, New Zealand and Paraguay) owe absolutely nothing, having consistently settled their accrued debts over the years:
Country Congestion Charge owed (£) Parking Fines owed (£) Total owed (£) Central African Republic (Embassy of the Central African Republic) 0 0 0 New Zealand (New Zealand High Commission) 0 0 0 Paraguay (Embassy of the Republic of Paraguay) 0 0 0 Peru (Embassy of Peru) 0 40 40 Montenegro (Embassy of Montenegro) 0 65 65 Netherlands (Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) 0 65 65 Venezuela (Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) 0 65 65 Costa Rica (Embassy of Costa Rica) 0 130 130 Nepal (Embassy of Nepal) 0 130 130 Norway (Royal Norwegian Embassy) 0 130 130
Tom Preston, Managing Director of Hippo Leasing commented on the findings:
“While some argue diplomatic immunity is an outdated principle and open to exploitation, foreign officials remain under no legal obligation to pay their motoring fines.
“Total debts are only set to increase following the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in April, designed to cut traffic further and help clean up the dangerously polluted air in London. As well as looking at the economic impact of foreign diplomats driving in the Capital, it’s important to consider the environmental and public health costs too.”
The full data, including how much other foreign embassies, high commissions and consulates owe, can be viewed on an interactive map here.
Notes to editors
*Total Congestion Charge and Parking Fine debt accrued and outstanding as at 31 December 2017 based on records held by London local authorities and Transport for London (TfL). Data is the latest available and was provided under the Freedom of Information Act by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on 8 May 2019. Data for 2018 is expected by the end of 2019.
Amy Cutter, PR Manager, Screaming Frog
About Hippo Leasing:
Founded in 2007, Hippo Leasing is one of the leading car leasing companies in the UK, offering personal and business contracts. Hippo Leasing aims to make the process of getting behind the wheel less complicated and available to more people by providing an efficient, helpful and tailored service. Hippo Leasing is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.