Any vehicle driving on the road or parked on the roadside in the UK is required by law to pay road tax, which should be paid through the DVLA.
Until 2014, the DVLA issued road tax disks which had to be renewed every time the tax ran out – however, this has been phased out as technology made it obsolete. Now, police use automatic numberplate readers to match cars to tax databases and make sure the driver has paid their road tax. The vehicle tax still needs to paid through the DVLA – and here’s how.
How to renew vehicle tax
Renewing your vehicle tax is as easy as anything – you will be sent an automatic reminder letter to let you know that your tax is up for renewal, and the letter will have instructions for going online and renewing your tax included on it.
You’ll need to go to www.gov.uk to renew your tax, but everything else will be on the letter.
In the event that you don’t have your V11 reminder letter, you can use your VC5 vehicle registration certificate (which you can replace easily if you’ve lost it) or the same information will be available on the final warning letter you will be sent shortly before you are fined – however, you may not wish to leave it that late to renew your tax!
Potential penalties for driving without vehicle tax
Every vehicle registered in the UK has its details held in a database by the DVLA, and database checks are made every month to make sure the records are up to date for every entry. Among several other metrics, this database informs the DVLA which vehicles are currently covered by road tax and which ones aren’t – any car flagged by the system as untaxed and without a SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification) will result in the registered owner of that car being sent an automatic fine of £80 along with an automated letter.
If paid within 28 days, the fine can be settled for half the cost, only setting you back £40 in total. However, if you fail to settle the fine at all or refuse to pay it, you are liable to face prosecution, and could wind up being slapped with a fine of up to £1000. Even going to court at that point will also mean you have to pay court costs.
DVLA are also well within their rights to clamp a vehicle that is on the road with no tax. Should this happen to you, the only way to get the clamp off is to either 1) pay for valid tax within 24 hours or 2) pay a release fee of £100. Once that is done, you’ll have to pay a surety deposit as a way of guaranteeing that you’ll pay for tax in the agreed-upon time, which is usually £160 for cars and motorbikes but jumps up to £700 for certain other vehicles. The payment window is 2 weeks, which should be more than adequate since payment is made online.
If the tax is purchased within 2 weeks, the deposit is refunded. If tax is not paid for in this time, the money is lost and the vehicle could be clamped again or even impounded.
If your car is impounded for having no tax, you will have to pay a minimum of £200 to release it, and will also have to pay £21 per day to the impounders for the privilege of having your car locked up there. To make matters even worse, you may also have to pay prosecution costs, court costs and legal fees.
Can I drive without tax?
There are a few – very few – occasions when it is ok to drive without tax. I fyou are driving to a pre-booked MOT test, you can drive untaxed for that journey. You may also be exempt if you are disabled or if you are driving a certain type of vehicle. For mor einformation on what kind of vehicles are exempt from paying tax, call the DVLA or visit their website.