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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 the 2021 budget announcement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer froze fuel duty - this is the tax you pay per-litre of petrol. But he raised VED again, charging more for high-emission vehicles.

A calculator alongside a car tax form

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 through the nose 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.

 

VED tax changes for 2021

When you first register a car, there's an initial VED cost. The amount you pay depends on the car's carbon dioxide emissions.

This is for all petrol, diesel and hybrid cars. 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.

When was your car registered? Use the links below to jump to a section:

 

VED tax cost for cars registered after April 2017

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
115
15
76-90
115
140
105
91-100
140
160
130
101-110
160
180
150
111-130
180
220
170
131-150
220
555
210
151-170
555
895
545
171-190
895
1345
885
191-225
1345
1910
1335
226-255
1910
2245
1900
Over 255
2245
2245
2235

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

After that first year, all petrol and diesel cars registered after April 2017 have to pay a flat fee of £155 a year. For alternative fuels other than pure electric, it's £145.

 

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.

The chart below gives more detail about each of the 13 VED bands for cars bought new pre-April 2017.

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
130
120
E
131-140
155
145
F
141-150
170
160
G
151-165
210
200
H
166-175
250
240
I
176-185
275
265
J
186-200
315
305
K*
201-225
340
330
L
226-255
585
575
M
Over 255
600
590

* 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’ll pay car tax based on engine size.

ENGINE SIZE 12 MONTHS COST (SINGLE 12 MONTH PAYMENT) (£)
Less than 1549 cc
170
Over 1549 cc
280

 

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 six-monthly you’re charged an additional 5%.

It’s illegal to drive a car that hasn’t been taxed. 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.

Compare car insurance quotes

 

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 it next hits the road.

When you apply for 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 has been SORNed and you could be hit with a £2,500 fine.

You can apply for 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 to ask why some road users 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 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
275
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 won’t usually have to pay as much as you would for a car or van.

VED rates on motorcycles, mopeds and tricycles, 2021-22.

Engine size (cc) Total cost over 12 months (£)
Not over 150
21
151-400
45
401-600
69
Over 600
96

Tricycles (not over 450kg unladen), 2021-22

Engine size (cc) Total cost over 12 months (£)
Not over 150
21
Over 151
96