Car Tax Check

Check car tax status. Quickly check if a car is taxed by entering its registration into the free car tax checker.

When you get a car, either used or brand-new, there are three things it needs to have to be legal on the road. These are insurance, a valid MOT, and car tax. Without these things, getting a new car can be a nightmare. 

That’s why it’s so important to check the tax status of any car you’re looking to buy, as it ensures that it’s legal and helps you find out more about the vehicle. To ensure you get the full picture of all the second-hand vehicles you’re interested in, here’s some information about car tax checks and how to perform them. To find out more about buying a used car, you can learn more with Car Adviser.

In this guide

What is Car Tax?

Much like paying for insurance to ensure you’re allowed on the road, car tax is an essential part of owning a car and is an unavoidable expense to ensure you’re legal when on the road. 

In a nutshell, car tax is a form of tax paid to the UK government to allow your car to be driven in the UK legally. It’s something that most vehicles will have to pay, with car owners having to renew their tax every year. 

The money that the government raises from car taxes is then used to fund projects and other schemes that should benefit everyone in the UK. Road tax is used for highway maintenance, like clearing potholes and building new motorways and better roads.

There is no fixed amount that everyone has to pay towards road tax, and each individual will have to pay something a bit different based on a few factors about their vehicle. Things that impact how much road tax a person has to pay will include the car’s age and how much pollution it emits. 

Although most petrol and diesel-powered cars will have to pay some form of road tax, some vehicles are exempt. The most common type which is becoming more popular is electric vehicles. This is because they don’t produce any pollution and have been given this tax break to encourage more people to buy these vehicles. Other cars that are exempt from road tax are vehicles which are older than 40 years. You’ll also be exempt from road tax if you’re registered as a disabled individual. 

Do note, however, that you will still have to register tax-exempt cars for tax so that they’re officially recognised as being allowed on the road. They will be free to tax, so you won’t be charged anything, but you’ll still have to go through the process.

What is a Car Tax Check?

A car tax check is a digital tool that allows you to check the taxation status of any vehicle by simply entering its registration plate. There are many places where you can check the tax status of a car, including Car Adviser, although do be aware that many places will give you different details depending on how thorough they are. 

You can get car tax checks containing well over 20 fields of data, making them a perfect way to find out critical information about any car you’re interested in buying. On a typically car tax check, you can expect to get information on things like: 

  • The manufacturer of the car 
  • The model that the car is registered as 
  • The year that it was registered 
  • The type of fuel that it takes, which can be very important to help you avoid misfuelling your vehicle 
  • The colour that it’s officially registered as 
  • It’s Co2 emissions 
  • Its car tax status 
  • The due date of its next car tax

Much of the information you can get from a car tax check, especially details about its model and cosmetics, may appear redundant, as these are all things you can see when inspecting the car. However, checking these details to ensure they match the vehicle you’re buying is always essential. If the model of a car or colour doesn’t match, it could indicate that the registration plate has been taken from another car or that the vehicle has been heavily modified, which could be a bit fishy.

Car tax checks are easy to do. All you need is the vehicle’s registration plate and enter it into your car tax checker of choice. Some websites may charge you for a full report. It’s best to avoid these as plenty of other options will give you detailed information about the car you’re searching for without asking for a fee. 

Why Should I Check the Tax Status of a Car?

When looking to buy a new car from a second-hand dealership or from an individual, you must check to see if the car has road tax. This is because it’s against the law to drive a car without it, meaning that you could get into trouble if you buy an untaxed car and start to use it. 

In addition to avoiding criminal activity, checking the car’s previous road tax status and seeing how much was paid for it will give you an idea of how much it will cost to tax the car once you’re the owner. The amount you pay for road tax will alter depending on what category your car falls into, which VED band it falls into, and the amount of Co2 it emits. 

What Happens if a Car isn't Taxed?

If a car you own or that you’re about to buy isn’t taxed, then you need to get it taxed immediately so that you’re allowed to drive on the road. You are allowed to buy the car legally; however, you can’t transport it unless it has a valid tax check. You’re not even allowed to drive it home. 

If caught driving an untaxed car, you can face two different sets of punishments. If the DVLA learn that you’re driving an untaxed vehicle, you could face an £80 fine – although that will be reduced to £40 if you pay it within 28 days. Because this fine comes from the DVLA, they don’t have the power to take points off your license. However, they have the right to clamp the untaxed vehicle to prevent you from driving it and will only remove it once the fine and required tax is paid. If the case goes to court, the fee could rise to £1,000. 

If you’re found driving an untaxed car by the police, you’ll be given an instant fixed penalty notice of up to £1,000. Police use automatic number plate recognition technology to check that a car is taxed, meaning it’s easier for them to find untaxed cars. 

Due to these fines and penalties, if you find that a car you’re about to buy is untaxed after running a car tax check on it, it’s best to leave it and continue your search to make sure that you find a car that has everything in date. An untaxed car can reveal a lot about the seller and the type of person they might be, and it’s usually not someone you’ll want to buy a car from.

How to tax a new car?

If you’ve bought a car from someone else and found that it’s not currently taxed, you will have to contribute to the tax payment yourself to ensure that it’s legal to drive on the roads.

If you’re taxing a used car for the first time, you can do that online or over the phone if you have a copy of the logbook under your name. If you don’t have this, you can also use a reminder letter from the DVLA or the new keeper supplement, also known as a green slip. 

Once you’ve contacted the DVLA to renew your tax, they’ll search their own database to ensure that your car has a valid MOT and insurance in place. You cannot tax your car without either of these things being in place, so it’s a good idea to perform a car MOT check here on Car Adviser to ensure you can. To make sure that the database is updated with your insurance policy, speak to your insurance provider so that they can correct it. 

Remember that there’s no grace period after you’ve bought a used car; it needs to have a valid tax status the second you drive away with it. That’s why sorting out taxes is one of the first things you should do when buying a used car.

Car Tax Check FAQs

If you have a car but do not drive it on the roads - such as a racecar or a car you're keeping to fix up - you do not have to pay car tax. However, to ensure you're exempt, it needs to be registered as SORN. 

SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification and is a classification that lets the authorities know that the car is not being driven. To make sure that you can get SORN, the car cannot be kept on a public road. It needs to either be stored in a garage or in your driveway. If you only have on-street parking, you can't leave a SORN vehicle there. 

If your car is left on a public road, it must be taxed, even if you don't drive it. 

In the past, people had road tax stickers that they stuck to the inside of their windshield, and this disk would usually have the date for when the tax was due. This was stopped in 2014, meaning that you have to rely on new techniques to determine when a car's tax is due. 

Thankfully, there are a few ways to determine when a car's road tax is going to expire and is due for repayment. The first thing you can do is to use a car tax checker, as not only will this give you information about its tax status, but it will also inform you of when its next tax payment is due. 

In addition, the DVLA will usually send you a reminder closer to the time so that you're more aware of when it's due. Additionally, most people schedule their MOTs and road tax payments, so they're due at around the same time. This means that when your MOT is due, your tax will be too. You can schedule reminders with your mechanic so you'll never forget to tax your car.

When you sell a vehicle, you should get a refund on your road tax for the days that the car is no longer under your ownership. 

You'll have to cancel your road tax through the DVLA to do this. You'll automatically get a refund for any full months that you have remaining. 

When selling a car that is still under tax, that can't be transferred to a new owner. They'll have to buy their own. 

The road tax you have to pay will differ drastically from vehicle to vehicle, meaning that it's super hard to fully estimate how much you have to pay until you're quoted a price. 

Two major factors at play determine how much you have to pay: the Co2 emission that the car emits and the car's age. 

The amount you have to pay for 51 to 75g of emissions per Kilometre is £25 for diesel cars and £15 for petrol cars. If you emit over 255g/Km, then you'll have to pay around £2,365. This shows that there's a massive difference depending on emissions and that getting an efficient car is vital if you're looking to save money. 

In addition to this price based on emissions, you'll also pay extra for how old the car is. 

When getting taxed on a car, the rate you're charged for the first time is often different to what you're charged in the following years. This is because you'll be put on a different tax rate. 

It's also important to note that cars valued at over £40,000 will be taxed an additional £355 a year, making it a bit more expensive to own a luxury vehicle and should be something you think about if you're going for an expensive car.

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