Is my car taxed? How to use our free car checker and pay your tax

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Is my car taxed?
Car tax checker
How much?
Who pays?
How to pay
Selling your car
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Is my car taxed?

Nothing beats the freedom and independence of having your own car, but the costs add up – and car tax is one of the important charges you need to pay every year.

Officially called Vehicle Excise Duty (catchy, we know!) and sometimes called ‘road tax’, car tax must be paid to the UK government for any car that’s driven – or even parked – on UK roads. Paying it late could cost you an £80 fine, and not paying it at all could see you issued with a hefty £1000 penalty, or worse. Ouch!

We don’t like to toot our own horn, but Cuvva has an incredible free car tax checker tool that means you never have to miss a payment. You can check if your car is taxed and when it’s due using just your licence plate number.

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Car tax checker

It’s super simple to use our free car tax checker. Don’t forget, it can also tell you when your MOT is due (and we have another tool to check what insurance group a car is in!).

All you need to do is:

  1. Click here.
  2. Enter your vehicle registration.
  3. That’s it! Really!
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How much is car tax?

How much you pay all depends on the car you drive. Older, more polluting cars pay a higher tax than newer, greener cars. The price is based on how much carbon dioxide your car emits while driving.

The yearly cost can be over £1000 for some cars, so it’s good to know what you’ll pay and avoid a nasty surprise if you’re buying a car.

If you have a brand new, unregistered car, you can use the vehicle tax rate calculator on the website to find out how much you’ll be charged. You’ll need details of the car make and model to hand. Owners of older cars can work out their car tax using the different pricing band tables.

Don’t hit the road without car tax
Don’t hit the road without car tax

Who pays car tax?

Pretty much everyone who has a car must pay car tax, but there are a few exceptions to the rule, including:

  • Brand new cars that don’t emit any carbon dioxide and have a list price under £40k.
  • Cars registered between 1 March 2001 and 1 April 2017 that emit less than 100 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (our free car tax checker tool can tell you this, too!).
  • Drivers with a disability who receive a War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement, or the Enhanced Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment, or who have a mobility scooter.
  • ‘Historic vehicles’ that are over 40 years old.

If you own a car that isn’t driven or kept on the road, for whatever reason, you still need to pay car tax – unless you have a Statutory Off Road Notification, called a SORN. You can apply for a SORN through the DVLA, and you’ll need to pay for it every year.

And watch out, motorbikes aren’t excluded. The official name for car tax is ‘vehicle excise duty’, so it includes all vehicles on the road, not just cars.

The good news is that motorcycles and mopeds produce less carbon dioxide than cars, so the car tax is usually much cheaper. Hybrid cars tend to pay less than petrol and diesel cars too.

How do I pay?

You can pay for your car tax on the site using your credit or debit card, or at the post office. You can also set up a direct debit if you prefer to pay monthly or every six months.

If you need to split up the payments over the year, there’s a small 5% fee, so it’s always cheaper to pay in one go if you can.

To pay and update your car tax you’ll need a reference number from your recent reminder letter or ‘last chance’ warning letter from the DVLA, your vehicle log book (also called a VC5), or the green ‘new keeper’ slip from a log book, if you’ve just bought your car.

Failing to pay your car tax is called vehicle tax evasion, and it’s a serious offence. The DVLA has enforcement teams out on the streets who can clamp your wheel or impound your car, and they have fancy technology like number plate recognition cameras to help them spot tax dodgers.

What happens if I sell my car?

Car tax doesn’t carry over to new owners when you buy or sell a car so it’s your responsibility to tax a car you buy before you start driving it. The same rules apply for cars that aren’t driven and have a SORN.

If you sell your car and there are still a few months left of paid tax, you can claim a refund for those months.

Get Cuvva

You must tax your car before driving it - but it’s even more important to insure it.

At Cuvva we have an insurance policy for every need: short-term insurance from as little as one hour to 28 days - with no nasty fees, interest or tie-ins.

Get a quote here - it’s quick and easy.

Updated on 3rd April 2023