Vehicle Tax

What is VehicleTax?

British Car Tax Disc

A vehicle which is used on the road (including parking) must have displayed a Tax Disc. These can still be purchased from certain Post Offices, local DVLA offices or online:


To check post offices go to


To find your nearest DLVA office go to 


To apply online


Road fund licences can last for either 6 or 12 months. The tax disc must be clearly displayed and visible from the outside. Normally, the tax disc should be displayed to the lower left hand corner of the windscreen on motor cars or to the front of the vehicle on most motorbikes.


There are some vehicles that are exempt from these requirements and others although nothing is payable, they are still required to display a tax disc, although the disc is provided free of charge.


A tax disc will not be provided in respect of a vehicle where there is no valid insurance, MOT certificate (if the vehicle is more than 3 years old) and proof of ownership. Proof of ownership will usually be in the form of the log book or the tax disc reminder sent by the DVLA. A tax disc will not be issued without these.

Am I Exempt From the Road Fund License or Tax Disc?

If your vehicle falls into any of the following categories, you will not need to pay vehicle tax on your car or vehicle:


  • Vehicles made before 1973. These are considered to be “historic vehicles" or “Classic cars.

  • Vehicles powered by electricity or steam. This does not apply to hybrid vehicles.

  • Grass cutting / Mowing vehicles or machines

  • Forestry or Agricultural forestry vehicles

  • Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs (provided they cannot exceed 8mph on the road).

The above list relates to the characteristics of the vehicle, which are exempt from the road fund license or tax disc. If you are disabled, or if the vehicle in question is used by an organisation to carry disabled passengers, then you will be exempt from paying vehicle tax.

You must still apply for a tax disc, even if you are exempt or your vehicle is exempt. You must display the "nil value disc", which will be sent to you.

MOT and Tax Discs

You will not be able to buy a tax disc or pay the vehicle excise duty without a valid MOT certificate (if your car is more than three years old). You are generally unable to drive without a tax disc, which can cause problems in getting an mot.

In this situation, Private vehicles are exempt in exceptional circumstances and you should not be prosecuted in certain circumstances:


  • Where you are travelling to an approved MOT test centre for a pre–booked MOT, you would not normally be prosecuted. You need to be careful as the concept of reasonableness will apply:


  • The MOT needs to be Pre–booked. This is where the time and date of the test is established in advance. You will not be able to suggest that you were on your way to the MOT centre “as they know me, and will see me”. You will need evidence that it was pre-booked.

  • Where it is necessary to drive the vehicle on a public road during the course of the MOT test itself. In this situation, it would be unnecessary for anyone other than the tester to be in/on the vehicle at the time of the “road test”.


  • You should generally have booked a test centre nearby. It would be unreasonable to have booked an MOT at a test centre 90 miles away when there were plenty more nearby.

  • Arguably, it would be very rare that it would be reasonable or justifiable to drive home from a mot test centre. Not to say that you would not have a defence in these circumstances as it will depend on the facts of your case in particular.

The Penalty for not Displaying the Tax Disc

Anybody who uses or keeps a vehicle on a public road, without there being a valid road licence, will face a fine of up to £1,000 or a fine up to five times the amount of duty payable to tax the vehicle, whichever is the greater.


In addition, you can also be ordered to pay all the duty owed since the vehicle was last taxed.

Classic Car Isolated on White

It is often mistakenly believed that owners of classic cars (cars registered prior to 1973) do not require a tax disc. This is not correct. A tax disc is still required to be displayed. The exemption relates to the cost of the disc. Therefore, provided the car has a valid MOT and is insured the tax disc will be fee, but must still be displayed.

Do I Need a Tax Disc if I do not Drive my Car, I Just Leave it Parked Outside my House.

The very short answer is yes. If you are not able to show that you should be exempt from paying for a tax disc, you will a tax disc for the car. If a tax disc is required and you fail to display one, you can be prosecuted and be fined. However, there is no power to impose penalty points on your driving licence. In addition to any fine, you can also be ordered to pay the tax that would have been due in respect of the vehicle for the period that it has been without tax for.

I have no Intention of Using the Vehicle for the Moment – What are my Obligations with Regards to Paying Car Tax?


As the registered keeper of a vehicle, you are required to inform the DVLA that your vehicle is off the road. This is done by means of a statutory off–road notice, otherwise known as a SORN. The SORN must be sent to the DVLA. The Stautory off road notice only valid for 12 months at a time and should be renewed each year. Failing to supply a SORN is an offence which can result in a fixed penalty fine.

My Tax Disc Has Expired. How Long do I Have Before I Have to Renew it ?

In an ideal world, you would plan ahead and buy your next tax disc before the existing one has expired. This is because there is no grace period between the expiry of your existing disc and your new one. A tax disc can be purchased in advance of the current one expiring. The major problem arises where there has been a delay in your new tax disc arriving when it has been purchased online. You are legally entitled to drive or keep your vehicle on the road for up to five days from the end of the expiry of your existing tax disc without displaying a valid tax disc provided you have made an application for a new disc online or by telephone before your current vehicle tax/SORN has expired.

I Have Changed my Car. Can I Transfer my Disc?

No. A tax disc is not transferable between cars, and is not transferable between owners.

I Have Bought a Car Which Has a Tax Disc, do I Have to Buy Another One in my Name ?

Yes. Tax disc are not transferable between owners and you would need to purchase a tax disc.

There is a Problem with Theft of Tax Discs in my Area, can I Display a Photocopy?

You are no longer required to display a tax disc on your car.

Will an Expired Tax Disc Affect my Insurance Policy Following an Accident?

Lack of a road tax disc does not automatically give an insurance company adequate grounds to void your policy. Where the tax disc has not been renewed because of a lack of a MOT, the insurer may seek to void the policy on the grounds that the vehicle was not roadworthy.


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