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Car tax bands explained

Taxing a car – the basics

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Car tax must be paid on all vehicles registered in the UK, driven on or kept on a public road. Choosing the right car can make a big difference to your tax costs.

Plus, choosing a low-tax car could mean it holds its value better as it’ll have lower running costs in future, too.

A vehicle kept off-road must also be taxed or have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

You can check how much road tax will be due on new and older models of car on one of the links below.

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Car owners exempt from car tax

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The following types of car owners pay no car tax:

  • owners of brand new cars that produce 0 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and have a price of less than £40,000
  • owners of a car registered between 1 March 2001 and before 1 April 2017 that produces up to 100 grams of CO2 per kilometre driven. 

If you have a disability, you might be entitled to free car tax if you:

  • have an invalid carriage, such as a mobility scooter
  • receive War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
  • receive the Enhanced Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment.

 

You don’t have to pay car tax on ‘historic vehicles’ meaning a vehicle that’s 40 or more years old.

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How much is car tax?

Cars first registered on or after 1 April 2017

The car’s first vehicle licence rates will be based on the carbon dioxide emissions of the vehicle.

Rates based on carbon dioxide emissions in the first year
CO2 emissions
Diesel cars (TC49) that meet the RDE2 standard and petrol cars (TC48)
All other diesel cars (TC49)
Alternative fuel cars (TC59)

0g/km

£0

£0

£0

1 to 50g/km

£10

£25

£0

51 to 75g/km

£25

£115

£15

76 to 90g/km

£115

£140

£105

91 to 100g/km

£140

£160

£130

101 to 110g/km

£160

£180

£150

111 to 130g/km

£180

£220

£170

131 to 150g/km

£220

£555

£210

151 to 170g/km

£555

£895

£545

171 to 190g/km

£895

£1,345

£885

191 to 225g/km

£1,345

£1,910

£1,335

226 to 255g/km

£1,910

£2,245

£1,900

Over 255g/km

£2,245

£2,245

£2,235

After the car’s first year, for cars with a list price under £40,000 the road tax costs are:

Tax based on fuel type after the first year
CO2 emissions (g/km)
Electric vehicle
Alternative fuel
Petrol or diesel

0

0

0

0

1 - over 255

£0

£145

£155

For cars above £40,000, you’ll pay an additional £335 for the next five years from the second time the vehicle is taxed. You do not have to pay this as of April 2020 if you have a zero emission vehicle. After six years from the date of the first registration, you’ll pay the standard annual rate depending on what fuel your vehicle uses.

So, for example, a petrol car with a list price of over £40,000 would pay £490 (£155+£335) for the next five years.

The list price is the published price before any discounts at the first registration. Check the list price with your dealer so you know how much vehicle tax you’ll have to pay.

Fuel type
Single 12 month

Petrol or diesel 

£490

Alternative 

£480

Vehicle excise duty costs are slightly different if you pay monthly, every six months, or via Direct Debit. You can read about the different ways to pay on the GOV.uk site (Opens in a new window)

Cars first registered on or after March 2001 but before 1 April 2017

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The rate of tax you pay depends on the car’s official CO2 emissions and the type of fuel it uses.

The rates are split into bands based on how many grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) a car emits per kilometre driven:

Rate based on official CO2 emissions
CO2 emissions (g/km)
Total cost for 12 months

Up to 100

£0

101-110

£20

111-120

£30

121-130

£130

131-140

£155

141-150

£170

151-165

£210

166-175

£250

176-185

£275

186-200

£315

201-225

£340

226-255

£585

Over 255

£600

You can break these payments up to help manage the costs but you have to pay a little extra to do this. 

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Tax rate on CO2 emssions registered before 1 March 2001
Engine size (cc)
12 months rate

Not over 1549

£170

Over 1549

£280

The tax rate is based on engine size only. There is one rate for engines up to 1549cc and one for over 1549cc.

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Different ways of paying, including monthly, every six months, and via Direct Debit

You can spread the cost of car tax by paying monthly, six monthly or via annual Direct Debit.  

You can set up a Direct Debit when you tax your vehicle (Opens in a new window) online or at a Post Office. 

You don’t need to be the vehicle’s registered keeper to set up a Direct Debit. 

Emails and letters about Direct Debit payments are sent to the account holder. 

How much it costs

The amount you pay (Opens in a new window) depends on how often you want to make a payment. There’s a 5% surcharge if you pay:

  • monthly

  • every 6 months.

There’s no surcharge if you pay yearly. 

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Road tax on motorcycles, mopeds and motor tricycles

Lower emissions mean Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on motorcycles, mopeds and motor-tricycles is normally lower than for petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.

VED rates on motorcycles, mopeds and tricycles 2021-2022
Engine size (cc)
Total cost for 12 months

Not over 150

£21

151-400

£45

401-600

£69

Over 600

£96

Tricycles (not over 450kg unladen) 2021-2022
Engine size (cc)
Total cost for 12 months

Not over 150

£21

Over 151

£96

Vehicle excise duty costs are slightly different if you pay monthly, every six months, or via Direct Debit. You can read about the different ways to pay on the GOV.uk site (Opens in a new window)

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What happens if you don’t tax your vehicle

DVLA does not need to spot an untaxed vehicle on the road to take action. Any vehicle seen on the road and isn’t taxed, or is declared SORN and isn’t kept off road, risks being clamped or impounded by one of DVLA’s enforcement teams. 

DVLA will send you a reminder when your vehicle tax is due. This will include all the information you need to tax online. 

If you don't tax on time this is followed up by a late licensing penalty letter. This is a fee of £80 initially, but is reduced to £40 if paid within 28 days. 

If the penalty isn’t paid, your information is sent to a debt collector to recover the payment. You may also be at risk of prosecution through court if you use an untaxed vehicle.

The DVLA has a number of other actions to stop vehicle tax evasion. These range from reminder letters, penalties and court prosecutions through to the use of ANPR cameras, wheel clamping and the removal of unlicensed vehicles.

Vehicle excise duty when selling or buying a vehicle

Tax on vehicles is not transferred when they’re sold.

For example, when you buy a car that someone else has previously taxed, it doesn’t matter if the tax wasn’t due to run out until two months after you bought it. You’ll still need to tax the vehicle before you can drive it.

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It also means that if you’re selling a vehicle, you can claim a refund for any full months that are left. A refund will be automatically issued when you return the selling or transferring a vehicle section of the V5C to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

The same applies for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) on a vehicle. If you buy a vehicle that is SORN, you’ll need to tell the DVLA that it’s being kept off road and get a new SORN.

Now when you buy a vehicle, the car tax will no longer be transferred with the vehicle. So you must tax it before you can use it.

Charges and tolls

Depending on where you drive and what roads you use, you might have to pay additional tolls or charges.

There are tolls to use including, among others, the Dartford Crossing in London and a section of the M6 north of Birmingham.

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There are also charges for driving in the centre of London, known as the London Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) charge, and in Durham, known as the Durham Road User Charge

From 23 October 2017, vehicles failing to meet minimum emissions standards will pay a surcharge, known as the Toxicity Charge or ‘T-Charge’.

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