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When Does My Car Need Tax?

In the United Kingdom, all vehicles that are driven or parked on public roads are required to have valid road tax. Road tax, also known as vehicle excise duty (VED), is an annual tax that is levied on vehicles based on their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions or engine size. It is a legal requirement and failure to pay road tax can result in hefty fines and penalties.

The vehicle tax disc, which used to be displayed on the windscreen, was abolished in October 2014, and the system was digitized. Now, road tax can be paid online or at a post office, and enforcement is done through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras.

So, when does your car need tax? The answer depends on various factors, including the age of your vehicle and its emissions. Here are some scenarios to help you understand when your car needs tax:

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1. New cars: If you have recently bought a brand-new car, it should have been taxed by the dealer before you collected it. You can check the tax status online using the vehicle’s registration number.

2. Used cars: If you are purchasing a used car, the tax does not transfer with the vehicle. You will need to tax it yourself before driving it on public roads.

3. Expired tax: If your car’s tax has expired, you must renew it before using the vehicle on the road. Failure to do so can result in penalties and fines.

4. SORN: If your car is not being used on public roads and is kept off-road or in a garage, you can declare it as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). This exempts you from paying road tax.

5. Electric vehicles: Fully electric vehicles (EVs) are exempt from paying road tax as they produce zero emissions.

6. Low-emission vehicles: Some low-emission vehicles, such as hybrid cars, benefit from reduced road tax rates.

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7. Disabled drivers: Disabled drivers are eligible for reduced road tax rates or exemptions. Certain conditions and criteria must be met to qualify for these benefits.


1. How can I check if my car has valid road tax?
2. Can I pay my road tax in installments?
3. Can I transfer road tax to a new owner?
4. What happens if I forget to renew my road tax?
5. Can I claim a refund if I sell my car midway through the tax year?
6. Can I tax my car if I don’t have the V5C logbook?
7. Do I need tax if my car is parked on private property?