Want to know your car’s road tax band? We explain how the UK’s VED system works and what you can expect to pay.
Since 1 March 2001, vehicle excise duty (VED), commonly known as road tax or car tax, has been set on a sliding scale according to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The lower a car’s emissions, the lower the tax payable.
In short, if you buy a gas-guzzler you can expect to pay through the nose for it, whereas an eco-friendly vehicle will be significantly cheaper.
How much is car tax?
The car tax scale is currently divided into 13 bands. These are labelled A to M, and how much you pay depends on which band your car falls in to.
Motorists can expect to pay anything from £0 to more than £500 depending on their car’s eco credentials.
Cars in the lowest band, A (CO2 emissions of up to 100 g/km), are currently exempt from paying any tax whatsoever.
Meanwhile, those in the highest band, M (over 255 g/km), can expect to pay £515 or more per year.
The chart below gives more detail about each of the 13 VED bands.
Car tax bands
||CO2 emissions (g/km)
||Standard cost (Single 12 month payment)
||Cost for first year (Single 12 month payment)
||Up to 100
First year car tax charges
As the table shows, brand new cars attract lower or higher rates of tax in the first year after a vehicle is registered.
For example, owners of cars in bands A to D pay no tax at all, while M band vehicles can expect to pay up to £1,120.
This system has been designed to make people more aware about the environmental impact of their choice of car.
After the first year, the tax will revert to the standard cost.
What the table doesn't show is that costs can also vary within the same band depending on how you choose to pay your tax.
For example, it is marginally cheaper to make a one off annual payment than in monthly installments, so it’s worth checking this out a little further.
What tax band is my car?
Not sure which band your car falls into? Don’t worry.
To find out the emissions of your vehicle, new or used, visit the GOV.UK website.
It has a helpful tool which lets you search for CO2 data by manufacturer and model.
Tax for older cars
If your car was registered prior to March 2001, ignore all of the above – instead you’ll pay car tax based on engine size.
Tax for older cars
||12 Months Cost (Single 12 month payment)
|Less than 1550 cc
|1550 cc and over
How do I pay car tax?
There are a number of ways to pay your car tax.
You can pay VED online, by phone, at a Post Office, or by post.
Online is your quickest and easiest option: you’ll just need the reference number from your V11 reminder or registration certificate (V5C) and a valid card with which to pay.
You can also pay by phoning 0300 123 4321, in person at Post Office branches that deal with vehicle tax, or by post to the address shown on the V11 (you should automatically receive this a few weeks before renewal).
Changes to car tax bands in 2017
Hopefully by now you’ll understand how the current car tax system works and how to pay. However, things are soon going to change.
Last year, Chancellor George Osborne announced that there would be reforms to the current VED system.
And next spring a new, more streamlined system will come into force that could see cars with lower emissions paying more tax.
From April 2017, only vehicles with zero emissions – predominantly electric cars – will pay zero VED in the first and subsequent years.
Cars not categorised at zero emissions, which at the moment is the majority of vehicles, will have their VED calculated on the rate of their CO2 output.
After the first year, motorists will face an annual flat fee of £140.
The changes will only apply, however, to cars bought as brand new and registered after the reforms come into effect.