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Vehicle tax check

Before purchasing your next vehicle, do ensure that you understand how car tax is applied. As car tax is not automatically transferred upon purchasing a new vehicle, follow the steps that we have listed below to enable you to drive home safely. You will also need to purchase appropriate car insurance.

Vehicle tax bands explained

Vehicle tax bands are calculated on either engine size or fuel type and carbon dioxide emissions, depending when the car was registered.

  • Cars registered prior to March 1st, 2001, are taxed according to the engine size.
  • Those registered after March 1st, 2001, are taxed according to their fuel type and CO2 emissions.
  • The bands are given a letter ranging from A to M. Those in band A emit the lowest amount of CO2 and are currently exempt from tax fees.
  • Alternative-fuel vehicles that do not run purely on diesel or petrol, such as hybrids, plug-in hybrids and LPG cars, have a reduced tax band rating.

The car tax system recently underwent major changes, so it might be worth looking at these changes before choosing your next model.

Vehicles exempt from tax

Vehicles that are tax exempt include:

  • Vehicles used by a disabled person. You can claim disability exemption when you apply for your vehicle tax. An exemption can be removed later if the vehicle is no longer used by a disabled person.
  • Vehicles (not ambulances) that are used by organisations to provide transport for disabled people.
  • Mobility scooters, invalid carriages and powered wheelchairs are exempt provided they have a maximum speed of 8 MPH and are fitted with a device limiting the speed on footpaths to 4 MPH.
  • Vehicles made prior to January 1st, 1976.
  • Electric vehicles.
  • Vehicles used for agricultural, horticultural and forestry work purposes, including tractors and light agricultural vehicles used off-road.

Even if a vehicle is exempt from road tax it may still be necessary to apply for this exemption. Visit Gov.uk to check if your vehicle qualifies for tax exemption.

Declaring a vehicle as SORN

If a car is going to be taken off the road and you want to stop taxing and insuring it, then it must be registered as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notice). The vehicle must be kept in a garage, on a drive or on private land rather than left on a public road. To register a car as SORN, use the GOV.UK website and start the process here.

GOV.UK have outlined that you must register a SORN status if any of the following apply:

  • Your vehicle is not taxed.
  • Your vehicle is not insured (even for a very short time).
  • You want to scrap the vehicle and break it up for spare parts.
  • You buy a vehicle that is SORN-registered and want to keep it that way. A SORN cannot be transferred from a previous owner.

If you purchase a vehicle that has been SORN-registered, you will be responsible for taxing and insuring it as soon as you take ownership.

How to Renew Road Tax

Renewing your road tax is quite straightforward. If you have a reminder letter (V11), a V5C (logbook), your new keeper supplement if you’ve just purchased the car or a ‘last chance’ warning letter, then it can be completed online at GOV.UK

Alternatively you can call 0300 123 4321, or visit a post office that deals with vehicle tax, remembering to take along all your documentation.

If you want to find out more about a car’s history, along with a comprehensive list of safety and security checks before buying a used car, then you should consider the RAC Vehicle Check.


The following vehicles are exempt: imports, 4x4’s, convertibles, write-offs, hybrids, vans, vehicles over 10 years old, vehicles with more than 5 seats, prestige vehicles, 4-wheel drives, LPGs, motorhomes and vehicles with more than 120,000 miles on the clock.

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