You cannot tax a car without insurance. Before you tax your car, you need an insurance policy in place.
What is Car Tax and Why Do I Need It?
Many people call it road tax, or car tax. But the official name for it is vehicle excise duty (VED). To be permitted to park or drive on UK roads you have to pay your VED. The money collected goes into the Government’s consolidated pot where some of the VED money may contribute to road maintenance.
The amount of VED you pay depends on your car’s CO2 emissions. The more CO2 your car emits, the more VED you’ll have to pay.
So why do you need to pay vehicle excise duty? According to the UK government, it’s an incentive to think green, and to consider driving a car with lower emissions. Cars with low CO2 emissions can be exempt from VED.
Do I Need Car Insurance?
It’s illegal to drive without car insurance, and there are severe fines and penalties for anyone caught driving uninsured. Head here to read out full guide to the risks of driving without insurance, and the penalties you can expect if you’re caught.
You cannot drive without insurance, and you cannot tax your car until you get car insurance.
The DVLA has a Motor Insurance Database (MID). They can find out in seconds whether or not a car has insurance and an MOT. When you tax your car, either online or at the post office, the process will involve checking the DVLA’s MID. If they find you’re not insured, then they will not tax your car.
What If I’ve Just Bought a Car?
You cannot drive your new car home before you’ve taxed it in your name. According to UK law, all cars must be taxed at the point of sale. If you’re buying a brand new car from a dealer, then they’ll almost certainly sort out tax and insurance as part of the sales process.
But if you’re buying a car second hand, the VED won’t be automatically transferred from the car’s previous owner to you. Instead, you and the seller will have to sort tax and insurance out before you collect the car and drive it away. And if the car’s more than three years old, you’ll also have to sort out an MOT.
How to Tax Your Car
You can tax your car in person at your nearest Post Office, or you can do it online.
How to Tax Your Car Online
You’ll need a specific reference number. You can find this reference number on:
- A V11 recent reminder letter from the DVLA, or on one of their “last chance” warning letters.
- Your V5C vehicle logbook – so long as it’s in your name!
- The V5C/2 “new keeper’s details” slip from the V5C logbook, if you’ve just bought the car second hand. This slip is green, so it’s hard to miss!
Once you have this reference number, you can pay your VED by direct debit, debit, or credit card. Head here to tax your vehicle.
How to Tax Your Car in Person
You can tax your car in person at any branch of the Post Office. If the car’s registered in your name, bring the V5C logbook. If you’ve just bought the car second hand, bring the green V5C/2 “new keeper’s details” slip.
The Post Office may also request to see a valid MOT certificate, if your car’s more than three years old. So it’s best to bring one along, just in case.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you’ll also have to bring essential car insurance documents.
When Do I Not Need to Pay Car Tax?
If you’re not currently driving your car, then you don’t need to insure it and you don’t need to pay any tax.
You do, however, need to let the DVLA know that you’re not currently driving your car. For this, you’ll need a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).
Head here to SORN your vehicle. But remember: if you want to start driving your car again, you’ll first have to sort out car insurance and tax once more.
Never Forget About Car Tax and Insurance Again
Are you worried about forgetting to pay car tax and insurance? A few things will help you remember:
- The DVLA should send you reminders about your car tax, especially when it’s nearly time to pay again. Similarly, your insurers should let you know when your policy’s due to renew. Some insurers even renew insurance policies automatically. Contact your insurers and ask them what sort of arrangements they have in place.
- You could also set some reminders for yourself. Write down important dates in your diary or on your calendar, and set timely reminders using your smartphone.
- You don’t need to get an MOT until the third anniversary of your car’s registration. If you buy your car brand-new, make a note of the date, and know that you’ll have to get your first MOT three years from that date. If you bought the car second hand, ask the seller for the car’s latest MOT certificate. You won’t have to get another MOT until 12 months after the date on the certificate.
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