Road Tax Bands

Motoring has become an expensive necessity for most of us and in the UK we are feeling the pinch.  When you add up the cost of your car, fuel, road tax and keeping it maintained you have to consider lots of options to ensure it is cost effective for you.  Road tax can be expensive and there are a number of categories for vehicles, have you ever wondered how it is calculated or how you can find out what you could be paying?

Road Tax, what is it for?

Road tax in the UK is paid to the government and must be purchased before you drive a vehicle on the road.  Once paid, the government will issue you with a vehicle license (or tax disc) that must be displayed in your windscreen.

How long does the tax disc last?

You can purchase a vehicle license for either 6 months or 12 months, it is slightly cheaper to buy a 12 month license than to buy two 6 month licenses.

Road Tax Bands, how are they calculated?

A vehicles road tax band use to be calculated on its engine size.  Private and light goods vehicles registered before 1 March 2001 fell into 2 categories, under 1549cc and over 1549cc.

A vehicle registered on or after 1 March 2001 has its road tax band calculated on the emissions it produces.  It is calculated on CO2 emissions measured in grams per kilometre (g/km) driven.  There are 13 road tax bands in total and it works on the basis of the less polluting your vehicle is the less road tax you will have to pay.  If you drive an alternative fuel car you can benefit from a slightly reduced road tax band.

A vehicle that is registered on or after 1 April 2010 has a slightly different road tax band for the first year, after this the vehicle will pay the standard rates applicable to vehicles registered on or after 1 March 2001.

Road Tax Band charges

The table below shows the current road tax bands for 2011-2012 for petrol cars (tax class 48) and diesel cars (tax class 49).**


CO2 emission (g/km)

12 Month Rate

6 Month Rate


Up to 100


Not Available




Not Available




Not Available






































Over 255



*Band K includes cars that have a CO2 figure over 225g/km but were registered before 23 March 2006.
** Table correct as of May 2011

Road Tax Bands, where can I find this information?

If you already own your vehicle you will find its road tax band on its registration document (V5C).  The government web site also has lots of information on road tax bands and can be found at:

What if I am not using my vehicle, do I have to tax it?

No you don’t, if you are not using the vehicle and intend to keep it off the road.  In this case you must declare a Statutory off Road Notice (SORN) to the Driver and Vehicle License Agency (DVLA) so that you do not have to pay the required road tax for that vehicle.  Once you have done this you can not drive the vehicle on the roads and the SORN must be renewed every 12 months.

What are the consequences of not paying your road tax or declaring a SORN?

There is no way of avoiding paying your road tax.  The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) run monthly checks of its records to find untaxed vehicles and have the authority to carry out enforcement against you using this information.  In addition to this the police will carry out random roadside checks and even use number plate recognition technology to find untaxed vehicles.

Failing to tax your vehicle could lead to an automatic £80 penalty and a fine starting at a minimum of £1000, your vehicle can also be impounded and crushed.  Even if you have purchased your road tax disc you can still can be fined for not displaying it, the current maximum fine is £200.

How can I pay for my road tax?

The DVLA will send the registered owner of the vehicle a reminder about purchasing their road tax.  Most post offices can issue you with a road tax disc but you must remember to take all of the required documents with you.  You will need to take your road tax reminder V11, a current certificate of insurance or cover note, valid MOT certificate and payment.

A much easier way is to use the online facility provide by the DVLA.  The V11 reminder sent to the owner of the vehicle will have a unique reference number for your vehicle which you can enter on the web site it take about 5 minutes to complete the process and avoids queuing at the post office.  After the DVLA checks that the vehicle is taxed and insured you can then proceed to order your tax disc, it will arrive in the post 3-4 days later usually.

Lots more information about Road tax bands and how to tax your vehicle can be found at:

Use the table below to find out which road tax band your car is in