Car tax bands explained

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), commonly called car tax or road tax, is a major running cost with cars. It can be a £1,000 or more a year, depending on how environmentally-friendly the car is.

Taxing a car – the basics

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.

Car owners exempt from car tax

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 higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance.

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

How much is car tax?

Cars registered on or after 1 April 2017

In the car’s first year rates will change based on the carbon dioxide emissions of the vehicle.

Rates based on carbon dioxide emissions in the first year
CO2 emissions (g/km)
Diesel cars (TC49) that meet the RDE2 standard and petrol cars (TC48)
First year rate for a diesel that does not meet RDE2

0

£0

£0

1-50

£10

£25

51-75

£25

£115

76-90

£115

£140

91-100

£140

£160

101-110

£160

£180

111-130

£180

£220

131-150

£220

£555

151-170

£555

£895

171-190

£895

£1,345

191-225

£1,345

£1,910

226-255

£1,910

£2,245

Over 255

£2,245

£2,245

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. You do not have to pay this as of April 2020 if you have a zero emission vehicle. After five years, 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.

Cars registered on or after February 2001 but before 1 April 2017

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. You can pay monthly, or a six-month rate.

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.

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 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.

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.

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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