Vehicle Tax in the United Kingdom

People using the roads in the United Kingdom pay a road tax...

The UK law stipulates that every car, motorbike or light goods vehicle kept on the public road must be taxed.

Up until October 1st 2014  a taxed vehicle received a tax disc which was displayed in the window of the vehicle. After this date, the tax disc system was abolished and replaced by cameras able to read licence plates. The licence plates are then checked against a database to ensure car tax has been paid.

Unlike the old disc system, buyers of used cars must now pay car tax from the day they buy the vehicle rather than when the seller's disc expires. The seller is able to claim a refund of any full calendar months remaining on the tax disc.

All vehicles must be taxed, with the exemption of:

  • Vehicles registered before 1973
  • Vehicles that will not be used or kept on a public road for 12 months
  • Vehicles belonging to a disabled driver with exemption certificate DLA404
  • Vehicles belonging to a driver with a WPA442 form who receives a War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement.
  • Electric-powered vehicles
  • Bio-fuel or hybrid vehicles which emit less than 100 Co2 per km

Cost of Vehicle Tax

The rate of Vehicle tax to be paid will depend on three factors:

  1. The age of the vehicle.
  2. The engine capacity.
  3. How much Co2 it emits.

For cars made between 1973-2001, there are two categories used when calculating the cost:

  1. Vehicles under 1549 cc
  2. Vehicles over 1549 cc

For vehicles after 2001, there are 13 lettered tax bands which determine the prices. These bands are measured by the amount of CO2 the vehicle emits.


The cost of vehicle tax for motorbikes depends on the engine size.

How to pay vehicle tax

Motorists can renew their vehicle tax online. New applicants can also use the same portal. Car tax is valid for a year, and for subsequent years, a reminder form will be automatically sent.

Documents required:

  • The 16 digit reference number on your vehicle tax renewal letter (V11)
  • The 11 digit reference number on your log book (V5C)
  • The 12 digit reference number on your New Keeper Supplement (V5C/2) if you've just bought the vehicle
  • A valid MOT test certificate, if applicable
  • Payment
  • Vehicle registration number
  • Proof of valid insurance

A vehicle must be tested when it is three years old, thereafter it must be tested annually. This test is known as an MOT. If the car passes the test it will be given an MOT certificate.