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UK car and van tax bands explained

Vehicle excise duty (VED) - also known as car tax and incorrectly called road tax - is a tax most drivers have to pay depending on their car's emissions. In short, the lower your emissions, the less tax you have to pay.

So, if you buy a gas-guzzler you might expect to pay a considerable amount for it. An electric car should be cheaper, though. 

The rules around how much you pay depend on how old your car is. It's nothing short of confusing, so here's what you need to know.

Renewing car tax online 
 

What is car tax and why do I have to pay it?

Car tax is a fee you pay to drive a car that gives off emissions. When you first register a car, there's an initial VED cost. The amount you pay depends on the car's carbon dioxide emissions. You then pay an annual fee for as long as you're using the car.

This is for all petrol, diesel and hybrid cars. Until 2025, pure electric cars pay no tax, since they give off no emissions.

Diesel cars pay more than petrol cars as they give off more emissions. 'Clean' diesels - those that meet RDE2 standards - pay the same as petrol cars.

Originally, money raised this way was directly put back into road maintenance - hence the old name 'road tax'. But this hasn't been the case since 1937.

Now, money raised through car tax goes into the Treasury instead, and is redistributed to several projects including road maintenance.

So, paying car tax helps benefit society. It's also a legal requirement. Failure to pay your car tax could result in an £80 fine (or £40 if you pay it in the specified period of time).

However, if you’re stopped by the police and they discover you haven’t paid your car tax they could issue you with a fixed penalty notice of £1,000.

And if you don't have valid car insurance, you could face even tougher measures. So when you pay your car tax, it may be worth checking your car is insured at the same time.

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VED tax rates for tax year 2022/23

This system only applies to cars bought as brand new and registered after April 2017:

CO2 EMISSIONS (G/KM) PETROL AND 'CLEAN' DIESEL (£) OTHER DIESEL (£) ALTERNATIVE FUEL (£)
0
0
0
0
1-50
10
25
0
51-75
25
120
15
76-90
120
150
110
91-100
150
170
140
101-110
170
190
160
111-130
190
230
180
131-150
230
585
220
151-170
585
945
575
171-190
945
1420
935
191-225
1420
2015
1410
226-255
2015
2365
2005
Over 255
2365
2365
2355

For cars priced over £40,000, there's an extra £320 to pay. That's added each year for 5 years.

After that first year, all petrol and diesel cars registered after April 2017 have to pay a flat fee of £165 a year. For alternative fuels other than pure electric, it's £155.

 

VED tax cost for cars registered before April 2017

For cars registered before April 2017, the car tax scale splits into 13 bands (A to M).

How much car tax you pay depends on what car tax band it falls into.

You can expect to pay anything from £0 to more than £1,000 depending on their car’s eco credentials.

BAND CO2 EMISSIONS (G/KM) PETROL AND DIESEL (£) ALTERNATIVE FUEL (£)
A
Up to 100
0
0
B
101-110
20
10
C
111-120
30
20
D
121-130
135 
125
E
131-140
165
155
F
141-150
180
170
G
151-165
220
210
H
166-175
265
255
I
176-185
290
280
J
186-200
330
320
K*
201-225
360
350
L
226-255
615
605
M
Over 255
630
620

* This includes cars with a CO2 figure over 225g/km but were registered before 23 March 2006

 

VED tax cost for cars or vans registered before March 2001

If your car was registered before March 2001, you pay car tax based on engine size.

ENGINE SIZE 12 MONTHS COST (SINGLE 12 MONTH PAYMENT) (£)
Less than 1549 cc
180
Over 1549 cc
295
 

What cars are exempt from paying VED?

Not all cars have to pay car tax. You might be exempt from paying VED if your car is:

  • Fully powered by electricity
  • More than 40 years old
  • Used by an eligible disabled person
  • Used by an organisation that provides transport for eligible disabled people
  • An agricultural vehicle
  • Has a Statutory Off-Road Notice (SORN) attached to it

Even if your car is exempt from paying VED, you still need to tax it.

But electric cars will no longer be exempt from tax after 2025. This comes after the 2022 autumn statement from chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt.

 

What tax band is my car?

Not sure which car tax band you’re in? Don’t worry. To find out the emissions of your car, new or used, visit the GOV.UK website.

It’s also possible to check your vehicle tax status on the same website.

 

How do I pay car tax?

There are a few ways to pay your car tax.

You can pay car tax online, by phone, at a Post Office, or by post.

Online is your quickest and easiest option. You need your V11 reminder reference number or registration certificate (V5C).

To pay your car tax online, visit GOV.UK.

You can also pay:

  • By phoning 0300 123 4321
  • In person at Post Office branches that deal with vehicle tax
  • By post to the address shown on the V11 (you should get this a few weeks before renewal).

The costs might vary within the same band depending on how you choose to pay your tax.

For example, it’s cheaper to make an annual payment. If you pay monthly or 6-monthly you’re charged an additional 5%.

 

How to SORN your car

If you aren’t going to be using your car for a while, you can apply for a statutory off road notification or SORN. While your car is off the road you won’t need to pay any VED and you only need to renew your car tax before you start driving it again.

When you apply for a SORN you get a refund for any full months of remaining tax. The only time you can drive your car when it’s declared off road is to go for an arranged MOT or for any other vehicle test.

Get caught driving a car that's been SORNed and you could be hit with a £2,500 fine. You can apply for a SORN online.

 

Is car tax the same as road tax?

Road tax isn’t a thing, and hasn’t been since the 1930s.

Many people still call VED ‘road tax’, and often use this phrase to ask why some road users - usually cyclists - don’t pay tax.

But VED isn’t a tax on being able to use the road in the same way that you pay to use a toll road.

The tax is there for all vehicles that produce carbon emissions. This is why cyclists and electric car users don’t pay VED.

 

Tax bands for van drivers

The rules on tax are a little different for van drivers. Rather than being dependent on their CO2 emissions, van tax is a set fee depending on how old the van is.

TYPE OF VAN REGISTRATION PERIOD STANDARD COST (12 MONTHS) (£)
Light goods vehicle
After March 2001
290
Euro 4
1 March 2003 - 31 December 2006
140
Euro 5
1 January 2009 - 31 December 2010
140
 

Vehicle tax on motorcycles, mopeds and motor tricycles

Different tax rates apply for other motorised vehicles. As emissions are lower you don’t usually have to pay as much as you would for a car or van.

VED rates on motorcycles, mopeds and tricycles, 2022-23.

Engine size (cc) Total cost over 12 months (£)
Not over 150
22
151-400
47
401-600
73
Over 600
101

Tricycles (not over 450kg unladen), 2022-23

Engine size (cc) Total cost over 12 months (£)
Not over 150
22
Over 151
101