How to check your car’s road tax – the ultimate guide

    In the United Kingdom, every car and vehicle on public roads must contribute towards their maintenance and other associated costs. This contribution is a legal requirement for your car, and comes in the form of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) – more commonly known as ‘road tax’.

    Woman checking her road tax on her phone

    This guide will provide you with all the info you need about UK road tax, including why it’s important, how to check your car’s road tax status using TotalCarCheck, how to renew it, and how much it costs.

    Why is your car’s road tax important? 

    Road tax plays a crucial role in maintaining the UK’s extensive road network and ensuring its safety and functionality. The money collected through road tax is used for various objectives, including:

    • Road maintenance: A significant portion of road tax revenue is allocated to repairing and maintaining the UK’s roads. It fixes potholes, helps resurface roads, and upgrades road infrastructure to ensure safety and a better driving experience.
    • Environmental initiatives: Road tax also contributes to environmental initiatives aimed at reducing the environmental impact of vehicles, like promoting cleaner and more fuel-efficient technologies.
    • Road safety: Funds from road tax are used to improve road safety measures, such as installing traffic signs, road markings, and safety barriers.
    • Public transportation: A portion of road tax revenue goes towards funding public transportation services, encouraging the use of buses and trains to reduce road congestion and pollution.
    • Administration and enforcement: Road tax helps cover the administrative costs of vehicle registration and taxation enforcement, ensuring compliance with tax regulations.

    How to check your Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) – or ‘road tax’

    The most straightforward way to check your car’s road tax status is by entering your reg in the search box at TotalCarCheck and then tapping on the ‘Click to Check’ button. This will bring up a lot of details about the vehicle – including a display of the make, model, and colour of the vehicle to confirm its identity.

    enter your reg at to see your road tax / VED details
    Enter your reg at TotalCarCheck to find out your VED.

    TotalCarCheck provides a lot of valuable information for free, but if you’re looking for the complete picture of your vehicle – or have any concerns – you should think about paying for the ‘Gold’ or ‘Silver’ service. This gives you a comprehensive breakdown of vehicle checks – including write-off checks, outstanding finance checks, logbook loan checks, and salvage history checks. If you’re thinking about buying a used car or van, it’s a good idea to make these checks to understand the history of the vehicle.

    However, when it comes to checking your road tax status with TotalCarCheck, once you’ve input your vehicle’s reg plate details, simply scroll down the page to the ‘Road Tax’ heading (on the right of your free vehicle report) – which will show you if the car is taxed, the date at which the road tax is set to expire, and how many days left it has to run before renewal.

    Renewing your car’s road tax in the UK

    Once you’ve checked your vehicle’s road tax status with TotalCarCheck, if you discover it is set for renewal, it’s crucial to ensure you renew promptly to avoid penalties and legal consequences. Here’s how to renew your road tax in the UK:

    Renew online – Usually, the most convenient way to renew your road tax is online. Visit the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website and navigate to the ‘Renew your vehicle tax’ section.

    Enter your vehicle information – You will need your 16-digit reference number from your vehicle tax renewal letter (V11) or the 11-digit number from your vehicle’s V5C logbook. Enter this information along with your vehicle registration number.

    Choose the renewal period – Select the renewal period that suits you. You can choose to renew your road tax for 6 months or 12 months.

    Payment – Provide your payment details. You can pay using debit or credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, and Electron.

    Confirmation – After completing the online renewal process, you will receive a digital tax disc immediately. It’s essential to keep a record of this as proof of payment.

    Tax disc display – While there’s no physical tax disc to display on your vehicle’s windscreen these days, the DVLA’s database will reflect your renewed tax status.

    Receive reminder – The DVLA will send you a reminder when your road tax is due for renewal again, helping you stay on top of the process.

    How much does UK road tax cost?

    The cost of road tax depends on several factors, including when your vehicle was first registered, the type of vehicle you own, and its CO2 emissions.

    Apart from potential inflationary increases, changes to the road tax system are not retroactively applied, so whatever cost was in place when the car was first purchased will stand for as long as it is on the road.

    If you’re buying a new car today, you will pay road tax based on the current tax band system that was most recently adjusted in April 2023.

    If you are buying a used car that was registered before April 2017, then the rate you pay will be based on the old road tax (VED) system that applied at the time of first registration, even if the car is still in production.

    What are the most recent road tax bands?

    The first thing to know about the UK’s current road tax system is that it is split into two main rates.

    The first tax rate applies during a new car’s first year on the road, and this varies depending on how much carbon dioxide it emits. After a new car has spent a year on the road, it will then be taxed on a second system; this is not affected by CO2 emissions but is determined by how much the car costs when new.

    Cars that cost more than £40,000 (after options) are subject to an additional annual supplement of £390 (up from £355 in 2021/2022) that applies for a period of five years. This supplement comes into effect after the first year’s CO2-based charge, so you will be liable to pay the supplement during the second to sixth years of the car’s life.

    Red sports car on the road

    This means that if your car exceeds the £40,000 threshold, you will pay £570 a year (£560 for hybrids) for a duration of five years. Afterwards, the annual road tax reverts back to the standard charge of £180 a year. It’s worth noting that fully electric cars are the exception to this rule, as they are currently exempt from this charge altogether, including both the first-year and annual road tax.

    Even if you negotiate the price of a car originally priced at over £40,000 down to below £40,000, you will still be required to pay the supplement, as it is based on the car’s cost for tax purposes. The £40,000 calculation encompasses all options and trim levels, and there is essentially no way to avoid this additional charge.

    You can also opt to pay your car tax monthly via direct debit – instead of annually. This will mean you incur a slightly higher cost due to interest, but it provides a convenient option for individuals who prefer to spread out their payments. This method also ensures that you don’t inadvertently forget to pay your road tax, as the DVLA will automatically deduct the payments each month.

    Do electric cars and vehicles (EVs) pay road tax?

    At the moment, electric vehicles do not have to pay road tax. However, from the 1st of April 2025, EVs will no longer enjoy this exemption. Instead, they will be subject to the standard annual rate starting from the second year of their registration. This standard rate is presently set at £180, although it is expected to have risen by then to account for inflation. Hybrid vehicles will also forfeit the £10 annual discount they currently receive.

    If the road tax system – and its frequent alterations – appear intimidating, there’s no need for concern. Save for upcoming policy changes around EVs and hybrids, alterations to the road tax framework will not impact a car that has already been registered and is subject to annual road tax under a prior tax system.

    It is worth remembering that – except for inflationary adjustments – a car’s road tax arrangement remains unchanged once it is in use.

    Ready to sell your car?

    Looking to sell your car, or want to understand more about documentation or maintenance? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from the paperwork you need when buying and selling, to various notices you may need to file with the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).