Can I sell my car with no road tax?

    In the UK, all passenger cars and vans must pay an annual fee to support the upkeep of public roads and motorways. The Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), also called your road tax or car tax, is a legal necessity for all vehicles.

    If you’re thinking about selling your car, take a careful look at your road tax status. While you can technically sell a vehicle without road tax in the UK, there are important considerations to keep in mind to ensure transparency and legality during the sales process. 

    For sellers, not having an up-to-date road tax could impact the value of your car on the resale market. For buyers, purchasing a car without a valid road tax could lead to a number of headaches, not to mention some hefty fines if not remedied! 

    Road tax 101

    The VED plays an essential role in maintaining the UK’s extensive road network, helping to ensure its safety and functionality. Paying road tax is mandatory for every car registered in the UK, no matter how much (or how little) they get behind the wheel. This means that even if your vehicle is parked unused on a private road or driveway, it needs to be taxed. 

    The only exceptions are if you submit a Statutory Off Road Notification or qualify to cancel your road tax entirely – more on these below.

    How much you pay for your tax is based on which VED tax band your vehicle falls into. Car tax bands are largely determined by vehicle registration date, CO2 emissions, and fuel type. 

    The main three car tax bands in the UK are as follows: 

    • Cars registered before 1st March 2001
    • Cars registered between 1st March 2001 and 31st March 2017
    • Cars registered between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2025

    Our ultimate road tax guide details all you need to know about road tax for your vehicle, including taxation fees, taxation exemptions, and more. 

    Beginning next April (2025), VED rates for all new cars will be simplified into two categories in the first year and one standard rate from the second year onwards. From then on, electric vehicles (EVs) will also be required to pay road tax after their second year of registration.

    Drivers can pay their road tax annual or six-monthly. New vehicle owners can use the V5C/2 for a one-time payment.

    Road tax exemptions

    In certain situations, vehicles can be considered ‘exempt’ from road tax and do not need to pay the annual fee. However, even if your vehicle is exempt from taxation, you must still file road tax paperwork.

    The following types of vehicles are exempt from paying road tax

    • Historic vehicles (registered before 1 January 1984)
    • Vehicles used by a disabled person
    • Disabled passenger vehicles
    • Mobility vehicles and powered wheelchairs
    • Electric vehicles (EVs) until 2025
    • Vehicles with a valid Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN)
    • Vehicles used for agriculture, horticulture, or forestry

    Selling an untaxed car

    You can sell untaxed cars with Motorway, provided you meet other requirements.

    As long as your vehicle is road legal, still runs, and has a valid MOT with at least two weeks remaining, you can still sell it on Motorway. This includes all SORN vehicles.

    However, it’s important to remember that selling an untaxed car may be a bit more difficult. To abide by all laws and make the process as smooth as possible, you should: 

    • Prepare your vehicle – Ensure that your car or van is roadworthy, safe, and in a condition suitable for sale. Having a valid MOT certificate signals roadworthiness to both the DVLA and potential buyers. 
    • Gather all documents –  Have all relevant documents, including the V5C logbook and service history paperwork, on hand.
    • Inform potential buyers of tax status – Clearly state in advertisements and conversations with potential buyers that the vehicle has a SORN or is otherwise untaxed. Transparency is key, especially as buyers may be hesitant to purchase vehicles without understanding its tax status.
    • Negotiate vehicle sale and payment – Keep in mind that your vehicle’s SORN or tax status may impact its overall price on the resale market. Make sure the buyer understands their responsibility to tax or SORN the vehicle. 
    • Update V5C logbook – After the sale, update your vehicle’s V5C logbook to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of the change in ownership. Provide the buyer with the necessary details to register themselves as the new keeper.
    • Transfer vehicle ownership – Notify the DVLA of the vehicle sale and ownership change online or by post. This can be done by either the seller and the buyer. Remember: SORN vehicles cannot be driven on public roads! 
    • Confirm future tax status – To avoid fines and legal issues, the new vehicle owner must arrange for road tax or confirm their SORN paperwork after the sale. 

    Impact of road tax on insurance

    In general, road tax and insurance are mandatory for all vehicles in the UK. Like with your road tax, driving without insurance can lead to fines or prosecution. 

    Without road tax, insurers may assume that the car isn’t in use and alter your premiums accordingly. Many insurers see vehicles without proper tax as higher risk, a fact that’s represented in increased premiums. Getting caught driving a taxless vehicle can also impact your insurance rates and record.

    Some insurance policies may become void if the vehicle’s road tax expires, while other insurance companies may refuse to cover the vehicle outright. As tax less vehicles are considered unroadworthy, insurers might cancel policies if road tax expires or isn’t renewed.

    It’s essential to check your insurance policy’s terms and conditions regarding road tax and inform your insurer of any changes (such as if you SORN your car). To prevent complications, ensure your vehicle has valid road tax and inform your provider of any changes in status.

    Consequences of selling without notifying DVLA

    You must notify the DVLA is your vehicle changes owners.

    It’s essential to notify the DVLA of your vehicle sale and change of ownership. If you fail to do so, you could face legal penalties and fines.

    Without notifying the DVLA of a change in ownership, you remain liable for any tax, damage, or fines incurred by the new owner, as your name is still legally associated with the car. If the new owner fails to register the vehicle in their name, proving that you’re no longer the owner may be challenging.

    Failure to update the DVLA can also be an administrative hassle. Vehicle paperwork and  mail will continue to be sent to you, not your car’s new owner. You could also be saddled with any insurance costs if your car insurance isn’t invalidated after the sale and the new owner doesn’t insure the vehicle. Without DVLA paperwork noting the new vehicle owner, you may be on the hook for out-of-pocket car expenses.

    Your vehicle’s history may also be impacted if you don’t inform the DVLA of the sale. This inaccurate history could potentially affect its resale value in the future. 

    FAQs

    Can my car be taken if not taxed?

    If your car is untaxed, it can be clamped or towed by the DVLA. You’ll need to pay a release fee and backdated tax to retrieve it. This is also the case if your car is SORN but you have not filed the appropriate paperwork.

    How much is a DVLA fine for no tax?

    DVLA fines for no tax can vary but usually start at £80 for a standard passenger car. The fine can increase if unpaid or if the case goes to court.

    Do police check road taxes?

    Yes, police do check road tax. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras along many UK roads can also identify untaxed vehicles.

    How can I check how much tax to pay on my car?

    TotalCarCheck’s free and easy vehicle check tells you the exact tax amount for your vehicle, and when the tax is next due. Simply enter your vehicle reg on their homepage to see your car’s tax info, MOT status, and more.

    Alternatively, you can see your vehicle’s road tax level by checking Regit. See our guide to running a car tax check for more.

    How can I track the value of my car?

    If you’re not sure what your car’s value is to begin with, it’s hard to know how much missing road tax might take off the price.

    All vehicles depreciate at varying rates, with no rule of averages accurately describing any one car’s changing value. Motorway’s Car Value Tracker provides a free, reliable monthly price alert for up to six vehicles at once. 

    Follow changes to your car’s value to choose the best time to sell, and make informed choices about investments in your car’s maintenance.

    Is it time to sell your car?

    Want to learn more about owning, maintaining, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from finding buyers, to negotiating a good price, and completing payment safely.