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Car insurance, tax, MOTs and the law

If your car documents aren't up to date, you could face a fine and points on your driving licence. Find out about what documents you need to drive and your legal requirements as a driver.

Car keys on top of an MOT certificate

 

Car tax, insurance and MOTs: what does the law require?

It’s against the law to drive a car without a valid car insurance policy. You also need to ensure that you have a valid driving licence and that your car has valid car tax. If your car is more than 3 years old you also need a valid MOT certificate.

It's also an offence to keep an uninsured car on a driveway or in a garage.

Only cars that are registered with the DVLA with a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) – can be kept uninsured and untaxed.

Read our guide on how to SORN your car for more details. 

 

Can I drive without car insurance?

Driving without insurance could be a costly mistake. The police could give you a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 points on your licence. If it winds up in court, you could get an unlimited fine and even be disqualified from driving. Your car could also be seized and destroyed by the police.

So, if you’re unsure, it’s worth checking if your car is insured.

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How do I check if my car is taxed?

The easiest way to check if your car is taxed is to visit the government website.

Enter your car registration, and it tells you whether the car has valid tax.

It also tells you when your tax expires, which is handy.

If your car isn't taxed, you could get hit with an £80 fine. If you don't pay the fine, your car could be clamped or crushed. Find out how to tax your car.

 

How do I check if my car has a valid MOT?

To check your car's MOT status, you can use our free MOT check tool.

You put in your car's reg number and it tells you whether it has a valid MOT. You should also see when your MOT expires.

If you're caught driving without a valid MOT certificate, you could get a fine of up to £1,000. 

 

Does the law require me to service my car every year?

Not at all.

Giving your car an annual service could help keep your motor running smoothly and avoid expensive repairs further down the line.

And when it comes to selling your car, having a full service history could help bump up the price.

However, it’s not a legal requirement to service your car. 

 

Can I tax a car without insurance?

No. Before you tax your car you need to have a valid car insurance policy in place.

The only time you can get away with not insuring your car is if you have declared it off road with a SORN and will not be driving it on any public roads.

Thankfully you don’t need to dig out your car insurance documents to tax your car. When you tax your car, the system should be able to tell whether the vehicle you’re paying tax on is insured or not.

 

Is car insurance valid without tax?

Your car insurance might be valid even if your car isn’t taxed. Some insurance companies may have it as a condition of insurance though, so it’s important to check your policy.

That said, you shouldn’t try and get away with dodging your car tax. The penalties for driving an untaxed car can be severe, starting at £80 and rising to more than £1,000 in some situations.

If the police find that you haven’t taxed your car, they can issue you with a fine (fixed penalty notice or FPN) up to £1,000.

Insurance companies don’t like driving convictions either. So if you’re caught driving an untaxed car, you’re likely to see the cost of your car insurance go up.

 

Can I tax a car without an MOT?

No. You need a valid MOT certificate to tax your car.

It’s illegal to drive a car without an up to date MOT and in addition to driving penalties, it could also invalidate your car insurance.

 

Can I insure a car without an MOT?

You might be able to insure a car without a valid MOT, but it’s not guaranteed.

However, it’s important to stress you can’t legally drive your car unless it has an up-to-date MOT certificate. The only exceptions to this rule are:

  • If you’re driving to a pre-arranged MOT appointment at a garage
  • Your car is less than 3 years old and doesn’t require an MOT
  • Your car was built or first registered more than 40 years ago

 

Can someone else drive my car?

Is the person driving your car named on the policy as a named driver? Do they have a 'driving other cars' (DOC) feature on their own policy? If not, you could face a minimum £300 fixed-penalty notice, or a court fine of up to £5,000.

This means it’s important to talk to your insurer if you’re going to need other people to drive your car from time to time. The same applies if you need to drive someone else’s car.

It’s worth noting that DOC usually means you get third-party cover only. So, in the event of an accident the car you’re driving is unlikely to be covered.