Car Tax Bands

Written by Danny Collins
Last updated: January 27, 2024

A lot of costs come with running a car, but if you wish to drive safely and legally on the roads, they can’t be ignored. One of these costs is tax.

In the UK, car tax must be paid on all vehicles (apart from those exempt) if you wish to drive them or keep them on a public road.

How much you’ll pay for your vehicle’s tax will depend on a variety of factors, including the date it was registered and its engine size. This can make taxing your vehicle seem pretty confusing, especially if you don’t know much about your vehicle.

Whether you’re trying to tax an existing vehicle or planning to purchase a low-tax car, we’re here to uncover all you need to know about car tax bands and how to calculate your car tax

What Is VED And Why Do I Have To Pay It?

VED stands for Vehicle Excise Duty. If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, it’s worth knowing that VED is most commonly referred to as road tax, car tax or vehicle tax.

Vehicle tax has been around for quite some time. The first tax disc was introduced in 1921 and VED replaced the old tax system in 1937.

Tax used to be handled by local authorities, but in 1974, the Driver and Licensing Vehicle Centre (DVLC) took over. This meant that any vehicle and driver registration queries were dealt by them instead. Nowadards, the DVLC is referred to as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

The DVLA collects around £5.6 billion a year in VED. Much like other forms of tax, we pay road tax to fund a range of beneficial projects, including road improvements and infrastructure. This money can also go towards healthcare, education, and so on.

Current Car Tax Bands Explained

As mentioned previously, car tax rates are based on many factors, including engine size and fuel type. These rates are split into different bands, varying depending on when the car was registered.

Cars Registered From 1st April 2017

Fairly new cars (registered from 1st April 2017) have an “initial vehicle tax rate” for the first year. After 12 months, the vehicle will have a different rate each year.

Initial Tax Payment

If your vehicle was registered from the 1st April 2017 and it’s your first time taxing it, the rate will be calculated based on vehicle emissions:

Emissions (g/km) Diesel cars (TC49) that meet the RDE2 standard and petrol cars (TC48) Other diesels (TC49) Alternative fuel cars (TC59)
0 £0 £0 £0
1-50 £10 £25 £0
51-75 £25 £120 £15
76-90 £120 £150 £110
91-100 £150 £170 £140
101-110 £170 £190 £160
111-130 £190 £230 £180
131-150 £230 £585 £220
151-170 £585 £945 £575
171-190 £945 £1,420 £935
191-225 £1,420 £2,015 £1,410
226-255 £2,015 £2,365 £2,005
256+ £2,365 £2,365 £2,355

Tax Rates For Second Tax Payment

It’s important to remember that the above rates will only last for 12 months. After the first year, the following prices will apply to all cars registered from 1st April 2017:

Fuel type Single 12 month payment 12 monthly payments (direct debit) Single 6 month payment 6 monthly payments (direct debit)
Petrol or diesel £165 £173.25 £90.75 £86.63
Electric £0 N/A £0 N/A
Alternative £155 £162.75 £85.25 £81.38

If your car has a list price of £40,000 or more, you will be expected to pay an extra £355 a year (for five years).

Road Tax Bands For Cars Registered Between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017

For cars registered between 1st March 2001 and 31st March 2017, tax bands look slightly different. Cars registered during this time are banded based on CO2 emissions.

Petrol & Diesel Cars

Band & CO2 Emission Single 12 month payment Single 12 month payment (direct debit) 12 monthly instalments (direct debit) Single 6 month payment Single 6 month payment (direct debit)
A: Up to 100g/km £0 £0 N/A N/A N/A
B: 101 to 110g/km £20 £20 £21 N/A N/A
C: 111 to 120g/km £30 £30 £31.50 N/A N/A
D: 121 to 130g/km £135 £135 £141.75 £74.25 £70.88
E: 131 to 140g/km £165 £165 £173.25 £90.75 £86.63
F: 141 to 150g/km £180 £180 £189 £99 £94.50
G: 151 to 165g/km £220 £220 £231 £121 £115.50
H: 166 to 175g/km £265 £265 £278.25 £145.75 £139.13
I: 176 to 185g/km £290 £290 £304.50 £159.50 £152.25
J: 186 to 200g/km £330 £330 £346.50 £181.50 £173.25
K*: 201 to 225g/km £360 £360 £378 £198 £189
L: 226 to 255g/km £615 £615 £645.75 £338.25 £322.88
M: Over 255g/km £630 £630 £661.50 £346.50 £330.75

Alternative Fuel Cars

Band & CO2 Emission Single 12 month payment Single 12 month payment (direct debit) 12 monthly instalments (direct debit) Single 6 month payment Single 6 month payment (direct debit)
A: Up to 100g/km £0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
B: 101 to 110g/km £10 £10 £10.50 N/A N/A
C: 111 to 120g/km £20 £20 £21 N/A N/A
D: 121 to 130g/km £125 £125 £131.25 £68.75 £65.63
E: 131 to 140g/km £155 £155 £162.75 £85.25 £81.38
F: 141 to 150g/km £170 £170 £178.50 £93.50 £89.25
G: 151 to 165g/km £210 £210 £220.50 £115.50 £110.25
H: 166 to 175g/km £255 £255 £267.75 £140.25 £133.88
I: 176 to 185g/km £280 £280 £294 £154 £147
J: 186 to 200g/km £320 £320 £336 £176 £168
K*: 201 to 225g/km £350 £350 £367.50 £192.50 £183.75
L: 226 to 255g/km £605 £605 £635.25 £332.75 £317.63
M: Over 255g/km £620 £620 £651 £341 £325.50

You can find your vehicle’s emission details on the car’s V5C registration certificate. You can access this via our free car checker!

Road Tax Bands For Cars Registered before March 2001

Cars and light goods vehicles registered before 1st March 2001 are banded based on engine size.

Engine size (CC) Single 12 month payment Single 12 month payment (direct debit) 12 monthly instalments (direct debit) Single 6 month payment Single 6 month payment (direct debit)
Not over 1549 £180 £180 £189 £99 £94.50
Over 1549 £295 £295 £309.75 £162.25 £154.88

Road Tax on Motorcycles, Mopeds and Motor Tricycles 

Thanks to lower emissions, you won’t need to pay as much to tax motorcycles, mopeds and motor tricycles:

Engine size (CC) Total cost (12 months)
Not over 150 £22
151-400 £47
401-600 £73
Over 600 £101

Tricycles (under 450kg)

Engine size (cc) Total cost (12 months)
Not over 150 £22
Over 151 £101

When Do You Have To Pay Your Car Tax?

You can tax a car for either six or twelve months. If you own the vehicle, you will receive a reminder before the tax is due to expire. Once given the reminder, you will be expected to pay the tax before the current policy expires.

How Do You Pay Car Tax?

There are a couple of ways to pay car tax – the option you chose is entirely up to you.

You can either pay the full amount at once, or split the cost up by paying monthly or six monthly. There will be a 5% surcharge if you pay monthly or every 6 months.

Car tax payments are taken via debit/credit card or Direct Debit. You can set this up online when you tax your vehicle or do it at the Post Office.

What Happens If You Don’t Tax Your Vehicle?

If you don’t tax your vehicle on time, you will receive a penalty letter that contains an £80 fee. If you pay within 28 days, you will only be charged £40.

If you fail to pay the penalty, your information will be sent to a debt collector. If the problem persists, you may even be taken to court. Fines can reach up to £2,500 if you continue to drive the untaxed vehicle.

The DVLA may also clamp or impound your car if it’s left untaxed.

Require More Information?

If you’re still unsure, head over to the DVLA website to confirm tax bands.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are car tax bands?

Car tax bands, also known as vehicle excise duty (VED) bands or road tax bands, are categories that determine the amount of tax you need to pay for your vehicle. They are based on the CO2 emissions produced by your car, with lower-emission vehicles paying less tax and higher-emission vehicles paying more.

Car tax bands play a crucial role in encouraging vehicle owners to choose more environmentally friendly options by incentivizing low-emission vehicles through lower tax rates. The government sets the specific thresholds for each band, which are periodically reviewed and updated.

  1. How are car tax bands determined?

Car tax bands are primarily determined by the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by the vehicle. As the level of emissions decreases, the corresponding tax band decreases as well. The specific emissions thresholds for each band are set by the government and are subject to change over time.

To determine a car’s tax band, the vehicle’s CO2 emissions are measured in grams per kilometre (g/km) during official tests conducted by the manufacturer. The recorded CO2 emissions are then used to assign the vehicle to the appropriate tax band.

  1. Where can I find information about the car tax band for my vehicle?

To find information about the car tax band for your vehicle, you can use online tools and resources. These tools allow you to enter your car’s registration number and instantly retrieve details about its tax band and the corresponding tax rate.

By utilising these resources, you can easily access accurate and up-to-date information about your vehicle’s tax band, helping you understand your tax obligations more effectively.

  1. How much car tax do I need to pay?

The amount of car tax you need to pay depends on your vehicle’s tax band. Each tax band has a corresponding tax rate, which is determined by the government. The higher the tax band, the higher the tax rate.

It’s important to note that the tax rates can change with government updates, so it’s advisable to consult the official government website or use online car tax calculators to obtain the most recent and accurate tax rate information.

  1. Are electric cars exempt from car tax?

Electric cars are not completely exempt from car tax, but they benefit from a lower tax rate compared to vehicles with combustion engines. Electric vehicles (EVs) produce zero emissions, and they fall into the lowest tax band, which currently has a zero tax rate. However, this may change in the future as the government updates tax policies.

The zero tax rate for electric vehicles is aimed at promoting the adoption of environmentally friendly transportation options. As electric vehicle technology advances and becomes more prevalent, the government may introduce adjustments to the tax bands and rates to accommodate the evolving automotive landscape.

  1. How can I reduce my car tax?

To reduce your car tax, you can choose a vehicle with lower CO2 emissions. This can be achieved by opting for a more fuel-efficient car or an electric vehicle. By selecting a vehicle in a lower tax band, you can save money on your car tax payments.

The market offers a wide range of vehicles with varying CO2 emissions, so it’s worth researching and comparing different models to find one that suits your needs while minimising your tax liability. Additionally, staying updated with the latest advancements in automotive technology can help you make informed decisions about low-emission vehicles.

  1. What happens if I don’t pay my car tax?

Failing to pay your car tax can result in penalties and fines. The responsibility of issuing fines for non-payment of car tax rests with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Additionally, if you are caught driving without a valid tax disc, you can be fined and face legal consequences.

It’s crucial to comply with car tax regulations to avoid unnecessary penalties. Make sure to renew your car tax on time and keep your vehicle taxed to legally operate it on public roads.

  1. How often do I need to renew my car tax?

Car tax needs to be renewed annually. When you purchase a new vehicle, the seller may include any remaining tax in the price, and you will need to tax the vehicle in your name. For existing vehicles, you need to renew your car tax before the current tax disc expires to ensure that you are legally allowed to drive.

The DVLA typically sends a reminder letter to vehicle owners when their tax is due for renewal. It’s important to note the expiration date and promptly renew your car tax to avoid any potential penalties or legal issues.

  1. Can I transfer my car tax to a new owner?

Car tax is not transferable between owners. When you sell your vehicle, the tax does not automatically transfer to the new owner. The new owner is responsible for taxing the vehicle in their name. As the seller, you can apply for a refund of any remaining tax on the vehicle.

When selling a vehicle, it’s essential to inform the new owner about their responsibility to tax the vehicle in their name. Additionally, as the seller, it’s recommended to follow the proper procedures for notifying the DVLA of the change of ownership and requesting a tax refund, if applicable.

  1. Are there any exemptions or discounts available for car tax?

Yes, there are certain exemptions and discounts available for car tax. For example, vehicles registered before a certain date may be eligible for a reduced rate of car tax. Additionally, certain types of vehicles, such as those used for disabled individuals, may be exempt from car tax. It’s advisable to check the government website or consult with the appropriate authorities to determine if you qualify for any exemptions or discounts.

Exemptions and discounts are introduced by the government to accommodate specific circumstances and promote fairness in the tax system. Understanding the eligibility criteria for such exemptions can help you take advantage of potential cost savings in your car tax payments.