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If you have your own car in the UK and you intend to drive it, you’ll almost always need to tax it. There are very few exceptions to this rule. For instance,  if you SORN’d (why not check out our article about SORN) your car, you won’t need to tax it.  But that also means you can’t drive it on public roads at all, which sort of defeats the purpose of owning a car in the first place.

The fancy name for vehicle tax in the UK is Vehicle Excise Duty. But whether you call it car tax, road tax, vehicle tax, daylight robbery, or something more colourful, it all means the same thing. It’s a tax you pay to drive and park your private car on public roads in the UK.

So how do you check the tax status of your car? And when can you claim an exemption?

Man with a puzzled expression

How do I check the tax status of my car?

To check if your car is taxed, all you need is the car registration number (or number plate). Simply enter this information on the government tax check website, and then confirm that it’s the right car when prompted. The website will tell you the model and colour of the car to help you identify it.

Your results will then pop up. You’ll be able to find out whether or not your car has been taxed and when its tax is due. It will also tell you whether or not it has an MOT test certificate and when its MOT is due.

A lot of UK bank notes and coins

What are the implications of not having car tax?

If you want to drive a car in the UK, you’ll usually need to tax it. And if you’ve just bought a new car, you’ll need to tax it even if the previous owner taxed it recently. This is because car tax doesn’t carry over to the new owner.

If you decide not to tax your car, you’re risking a potential fine. Your car could also be impounded, and you could even face court action. It doesn’t even matter if your untaxed car is sitting on your own driveway when you get the fine. Unless your car is SORN’d, it’s a violation.

Smiling young woman looks at camera. She is seated in the driver's seat of a car and proudly holding up the keys to her new car.

Am I exempt from paying car tax?

There are a few circumstances that mean you might be exempt from paying car tax altogether. Let’s look at some of the exceptions that apply to private cars in particular.

As discussed, if you’ve SORN-ed your car, you don’t have to pay. You can find out more about whether a SORN is right for you here.

But, you may also be exempt from paying if you have a disability. You will need to meet a few eligibility criteria to claim this exemption, however. For instance, your car must be registered in your name, or your designated driver’s name. Also, the exempt car must be used only for your personal needs.

You can apply for this exemption when you tax your car. You need to “tax” your car even if you don’t need to pay anything. This essentially means you need to fill out a form to check that you’re exempt.

Electric Vehicle exemptions

There are also other circumstances when you might not have to pay car tax. For instance, some electric vehicles are exempt. But don’t get too smug about it if you’re an EV driver, because this exemption will only last until April 2025. After this point, you’ll be expected to pay car tax too.

Looking through a car window to the sea and a ship

Can I have a Zixty policy on an un-taxed car?

If you’ve just bought a car for your own use, you’ll usually need to tax it before you can drive it. But, you can’t actually tax it unless you already have valid car insurance and an MOT certificate in place.

The good news is that you can take out instant car insurance with Zixty to tax your car – though it’s worth knowing that the Motor Insurers Database (MID), which holds details of all insured cars in the UK can take up to 48 hours to be updated with new policies, and longer at the weekends. You might choose to take out a policy through us before you commit to an annual insurance policy, for example. Our policies are flexible, meaning they can last anywhere between an hour to a few weeks. This will give you plenty of time to shop around for an annual insurance policy.

Plus, unlike other instant car insurance providers, we carbon offset your journeys when you enable Zixty Miles. Also, we plant a tree every time you take out a policy with us when Zixty Miles is enabled. So, whether your new ride is electric or not, you can do your part for the planet with us. And have the policy you need to tax your car too. Win-win!