Which cars are exempt from road tax?

    In the UK, for vehicles to be road-legal, there are three things we have to make sure we do. Generally, all cars have to have an annual MOT, they have to be insured and they have to be taxed. However, as with most things, there are a few instances where they can be exempt. 

    The road tax you have to pay for your vehicle depends on a range of things such as emissions, age, and usage. If your car falls under a certain number in any of these areas however, they could be exempt from road tax altogether. 

    Understanding road tax exemption and the rules around it is important. It could help you save money and keep you on the right side of the law! 

    UK road tax exemption

    In the UK, if vehicles meet certain criteria, they could be exempt from road tax.

    As mentioned above, if your car meets certain criteria, it could be exempt from paying road tax. This currently includes electric and low-emission vehicles. However, due to several policy changes by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a lot of these exemptions will be scrapped by April 2025. This is because it is expected that by then, at least 50% of the UK’s cars will either be an EV or an LEV.  

    1. Electric vehicles (EVs)

    • Currently, fully electric vehicles don’t have to pay road tax 
    • However, from the 1st of April 2025, this will stop and EVs will have a first-year, low-rate tax of £10, followed by a second-year standard rate of £180 
    • The expensive car supplement will also be scrapped affecting drivers of EVs over £40,000

    2. Low Emission Vehicles

    • Low-emission vehicles that emit less than 100g/km of CO2 are currently exempt
    • Like EVs however, from 1st April 2025, this exemption will be scrapped and the majority will be taxed at a rate of £20 p/a
    • This includes many hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

    3. Classic Vehicles

    • If your vehicle was first registered before the 8th of January 1984, it is exempt from paying road tax 
    • This exemption aims to preserve classic cars and their heritage

    4. Disabled Drivers

    • If you are a disabled driver and have a certain type of vehicle, you may be exempt from road tax 
    • This exemption can only be used on one vehicle at a time 
    • Special criteria and documentation are required for this exemption

    5. Historic Vehicles

    • Like classic vehicles, if your car, motorcycle or other vehicle was first registered before 8th January 1984, then it is road tax exempt
    • This category includes many classic cars and vehicles of historical interest

    6. Vehicles Used by Diplomats

    • Diplomatic vehicles are exempt from road tax
    • They are subject to separate regulations due to diplomatic status

    7. Military Vehicles

    • Military vehicles used by the Armed Forces are exempt.
    • This includes vehicles used for training or operational purposes.

    8. Vehicles Used for Agriculture

    • Agricultural vehicles are exempt from road tax
    • This exemption supports the agricultural industry

    9. Vehicles with Zero Tax Rate

    • Some vehicles, like taxis and mobility scooters, have a zero tax rate.
    • They still need to be registered but they won’t incur charges

    How vehicle age affects road tax exemption

    Classic and historical cars that were first registered before the 8th January 1984 are exempt from road tax. The tables below show this in more detail: 

    Vehicle classification Exemption criteria 
    Classic vehicleVehicles over 40 years old are exempt from road taxThis encourages the preservation of classic cars with historical significance.
    Historic vehicleVehicles first registered before 8th January 1984 are exemptThis includes many classic cars and vehicles of historical interest

    There are several reasons for road tax exemption on these vehicles:

    🚘 Newer vehicles face higher road tax rates based on emissions

    🚘 Older vehicles are exempt due to their age

    🚘 Exemption encourages ownership and preservation of classic cars and supports the classic car community

    🚘 Although older vehicles may have higher emissions, the exemption for classics encourages environmentally friendly practices

    Understanding the statutory off-road notification (SORN)

    SORN allows drivers to declare their vehicle off the road, exempting it from road tax and insurance requirements.

    You’ve probably heard of a SORN declaration, but what does it stand for and when do you need it? 

    SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification. If your car is off the road, declaring it SORN will mean you don’t have to pay road tax or insurance. This is great for unused cars, ones going through lengthy repairs or those kept in storage. 

    Declaring a car SORN means you can’t use it on public roads unless it is taxed or has a valid MOT (if applicable). It is crucial to inform the DVLA in changes to your vehicle’s SORN status. 

    How to apply for road tax exemption

    There are several steps you have to take to apply for road tax exemption: 

    • First, you have to check that your vehicle qualifies based on it’s age, emissions or usage 
    • You then have to gather the necessary paperwork, such as proof of disability or historic vehicle registration
    • You then have to apply either online via the DVLA website or by mail 

    Once your supporting documents have been processed, you’ll get confirmation of your road tax exemption. Exemption is something you have to renew on an annual basis, and it’s important to keep the DVLA up to speed with any changes in your vehicle’s status. 

    The £40,000 car tax rule explained

    The £40,000 car tax rule in the UK applies to electric vehicles (EVs) registered after April 6, 2020. If a new EV is worth more than £40,000, it will be charged additional tax for the first five years, after which the standard rate will be applied. This is meant to incentivise the purchase of lower-priced EVs and support the transition to greener vehicles. 


    Which cars have £30 road tax?

    Cars with CO2 emissions below 100g/km typically have a £30 road tax rate. This includes many small, fuel-efficient cars and some hybrid models. Eg. The Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq, and Volkswagen Golf GTE.

    What car has the cheapest road tax?

    The Dacia Sandero typically has the cheapest road tax, starting at £150 annually. Its low purchase price and efficient engine make it a budget-friendly option for car owners.

    Which car has the most expensive road tax?

    Luxury vehicles and high-performance cars often have the most expensive road tax. For example, the Lamborghini Aventador and Bentley Continental GT can be taxed over £2,000 a year due to their high emissions and high list prices.

    Ready to sell?

    Need 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.