How to tax a car and claim a car tax refund
You need to make sure your car’s been taxed before you can drive it away.
If you're buying your car from a dealership, they might well sort that out for you. But if you're buying privately, you need to ensure you're covered.
Here we look at everything you need to know:
How to get your tax sorted
How to check if a car is taxed
How to cancel tax on a car
How to tax a car without a logbook.
How do I tax my car?
When your Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) – or car tax if you want to dispense with formalities – is up for renewal, you should get a V11 reminder letter.
Just put this number into the online tax service and follow the steps. Job done.
If you don't have a V11 reminder, you can also use the number in your V5C (logbook).
Alternatively, if you've just bought the 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.
How do I know if my car is taxed?
If you’re wondering how to check if a car is taxed, the easiest way to find out is by using the government's vehicle enquiry service.
All you need is your car's make and the number plate. It'll tell you when your tax is due for renewal as well as when your MOT is up.
If you have your V5C reference number to hand, you can also get tax rates and other information.
How to tax a car without V5?
If you haven't got your V5 or V5C as it’s also known, don’t worry.
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’ll be able to get details about how much tax you’re likely to pay.
The cost will depend on the tax band your car falls into. Cars in the lowest band A are currently exempt from paying any tax.
The price could go up (and down) each year. We keep track of costs in our UK car and van tax bands guide.
Alternative ways to tax your car
If renewing your tax online isn't for you, there are several other options available.
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.
Certain post office branches also allow you to tax your car in person.
Put 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.
How do I pay for my car tax?
As before, you can pay for your car tax in one lump sum – either by cash, cheque, debit or credit card.
You also have the option of paying via direct debit.
These can be either annually, biannually or monthly – however there’s a 5% surcharge for biannual or monthly payments.
Tax charges and rules can change. For more information, check out our guide to this year’s changes in driving law.
I just bought a used car. Does it come with tax already on it?
Not anymore, it’s impossible to transfer car tax.
Back when paper tax discs were a thing, people could sell a car with a few months’ tax left on it.
Now whenever someone sells a car, any full months’ worth of tax left over are automatically refunded to the previous owner.
That means whenever you buy a used car, it will be untaxed.
By law, the car must be taxed at the point of sale, and driving off without it could land you with a fine.
Anyone who tells you something different is either mistaken or fibbing.
How do I tax a new car?
However you bought your car, and whether it’s new, used or nearly new you still need to pay the VED before you drive it.
Therefore, it’s important to check online to see if it’s already been taxed. If you’re buying the car brand new from a dealership, ask about tax before you get behind the wheel.
Don't forget to update your car insurance policy while you're at it.
Compare car insurance quotes
What happened to the car tax disc?
You may well remember the paper tax discs which used to sit in car windscreens and were introduced in 1921.
Since then it was a legal requirement to display one - even in the case of vehicles that were exempt from paying the charge.
But since October 2014, car tax discs have no longer been issued.
The DVLA said this was a cost-cutting exercise and that getting rid of printing and postage costs would save £10 million each year.
How do I get a refund on my car tax?
If you no longer own your vehicle, or it's off the road, you can get a refund on any full months’ worth of remaining tax.
You should let the DVLA know if your car:
Is sold or transferred to someone else
Has been written off by an insurance company or scrapped at a scrap yard.
Has been exported out of the UK
Is registered as tax exempt.
If your vehicle is stolen, you’ll have to apply for the cancellation and the refund separately.
When you've told the DVLA about this your tax should be cancelled, as will the direct debit if you have one in place.
You’ll automatically get a refund by cheque for any full months left on your car tax.
To calculate this the DVLA work out the remaining months left from the date they received your information.
The cheque is then sent to the name and address on the logbook.
Unfortunately, you won't receive a refund for any credit card fees or surcharges.
How to get a tax refund on a SORN car?
If you have a car you no longer drive you don’t have to pay tax on it if it has a Statutory Off Road Notification - or SORN.
To do this you’ll need to contact the DVLA to tell it you’re registering the vehicle as being off road.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive a refund for any months you’ve already paid of tax.