When your Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) – or car tax – is up for renewal, you should get a V11 reminder letter. Put this number into the online tax service and follow the steps.
If you don't have a V11 reminder, you can also use the number in your V5C (logbook).
You should also have a credit or debit card ready to make the payment.
Here's what else you need to know about taxing your car.
How do I tax a car I've just bought?
How to tax a new car
If you're buying a brand new car from a dealership, ask about tax before you get behind the wheel.
The dealer should sort out the car tax for you. It’s likely to be included in the full price of the car along with the new registration fee. The dealer should also give your details to the DVLA along with the car's details.
How to tax a second-hand car
If you're buying a used car from a dealer, they might sort the tax out for you when they settle up.
If you’re buying a used car from a private seller, they first need to notify the DVLA about the change in ownership.
They can do this by completing the new keeper section of the V5C document and sending it to the DVLA. You keep hold of the green part of this form - the V5C/2.
You can use the green part of the V5C - labelled 'new keeper's details' to tax your new car by going to GOV.UK. You must do this before you start driving the car. You should get the full V5C within 4 weeks.
If you don’t get a V5C, or the seller has lost it, you need to fill in a V62 form and apply for a new registration certificate.
Be wary of any seller that hasn't got the V5C log book, as it might indicate that the vehicle is stolen.
Make sure you check all the paperwork, and you know your rights before buying a used car.
However you buy your car, whether it’s new or used, it’s also important to check online to see if the car's already been taxed.
How do I renew my car tax?
You can renew your tax at GOV.UK. As soon as you've had confirmation that your car is taxed you can drive it.
You can choose to tax your car up to 2 months in advance to be on the safe side.
You can also renew your tax over the phone or at the post office. You'll need your V11 reminder or your V5C if you want to renew your tax.
How to tax a car over the phone
You can pay for your tax by phone - just call the DVLA on 0300 123 4321 and have your V5C or V5C/2 to hand.
How to tax a car at the post office
Enter your postcode into the Post Office branch finder and select 'vehicle tax' as your preferred service.
To tax your car via the post office, you may need to show a valid MOT certificate as well as your V5C or V5C/2.
Can I change the renewal date of my tax?
No you can’t change the renewal date of your car tax. But if you’re struggling to pay your tax on the date it’s due, you could always pay your tax monthly or every 6 months.
If I tax my car on the last day of the month will I lose a month?
Yes. If you tax your car on the last day of the month, you've essentially lost a whole month of tax.
If you want to wait until the start of the following month or change your tax date, you’ll need to SORN your car for a month. But if you do this you’ll need to make sure your car isn’t parked on the road. You won’t be able to drive your car either.
What our motor insurance expert says
"It's illegal to drive without tax. Although you don't get points on your licence, you could get a fine of £1,000 and your car could be clamped. You also can't get car insurance if your car isn't taxed. And driving without insurance carries an IN10 conviction, which risks making your future car insurance costs more expensive. According to our data, the average car insurance cost with an IN10 is £1,796*."
How do I tax my car without a V5?
If you've just bought a car and don't have a logbook yet, you should have a number on your V5C/2 supplement. This is given to you by the previous owner.
If you've lost your V5 logbook, don't worry, you can replace your missing paperwork online.
You’re still able to tax your car by checking online with the car’s registration number.
The advantage of having the V5 is you can get details about how much tax you’re likely to pay.
Paying for your car tax
You can pay for your car tax in a lump sum – either by cash, cheque, debit or credit card.
How much will I have to pay for car tax?
The cost depends on the tax band your car falls into, which is influenced by how much emissions the car gives off. Cars in the lowest band - A - are currently exempt from paying any tax.
The price could go up (or down) each year. We keep track of these costs in our UK car tax bands guide.
Can you pay for car tax monthly?
Yes, you can pay monthly by direct debit. You can also pay:
There’s a 5% charge added for 6-monthly or monthly payments.
Does car tax renew automatically?
According to GOV.UK, if you've set up a direct debit, your vehicle tax renews automatically when it's due to run out.
You should get communication from the DVLA letting you know when payments are to be taken. A V11 reminder letter isn't sent.
If you've paid your tax any other way, you need to renew your car tax manually.
How do I check if my car is taxed?
You can check if a car is taxed by using the government's vehicle enquiry service.
You only need your car's number plate. Once you’ve entered this, the service will ask you to confirm the make and colour of the car. The tool will then tell you when your tax is due for renewal as well as when your MOT is up.
If you have your V5C reference number, you can also get tax rates and other information.
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* Confused.com data. July 2022 - June 2023. Comprehensive policies only.