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UK car tax bands explained

If you’re in the market for a new car, our guide to current UK car tax bands will help you understand Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and how much tax you’ll need to pay.

If you’re in the market for a new car, our guide to current UK car tax bands will help you understand Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and how much tax you’ll need to pay.

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Last Updated
10 JUNE 2024
6 min read
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What is car tax?

Car tax is the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) levied on almost all vehicles by central government.

Since 2001, all cars have been charged a rate of road tax from when they’re first registered, which is based on their CO2 emissions. Cars with zero and low emissions currently pay nothing.

However, from April 2025, electric cars, vans and motorcycles will begin to pay VED in the same way as petrol and diesel vehicles. The aim of this is to make sure all road users pay a fair tax contribution as the take-up of electric vehicles continues to accelerate.

Depending on how you pay it, your car tax will need to be renewed every six to 12 months.

Did you know?

Although it’s commonly known as car tax, VED isn’t actually a tax on cars. Instead, it’s a tax on the use of vehicles on public roads. The Roads Act 1920 specified that the money raised from VED was to be used exclusively to fund road construction and maintenance.

However, since 1937, the proceeds from VED have been going into the Treasury fund and used as a general revenue-raising tax.

How is car tax calculated?

How car tax is worked out depends on when your vehicle was first registered.

  • For vehicles registered on or after 1 April 2017, car tax is calculated on CO2 emissions and price.
  • For vehicles registered between 2001 and 2017, car tax is calculated on CO2 emissions only.
  • For vehicles registered before 2001, the car tax rate is based on engine capacity (cc) alone.

How is car tax monitored?

The DVLA holds information about car tax on a national database. The police monitor the car tax status of vehicles by using a network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. These cameras are located on the roadside or inside police vehicles.

ANPR cameras are linked to the DVLA database so that checks can be made quickly.

Why do I have to pay car tax?

The revenue from VED helps to fund essential areas of government spending that should benefit everyone.

The DVLA Annual Report 2022/2023 recorded more than £7 billion in VED revenue. This money, together with other forms of tax, is used for road improvements and infrastructure, and in other areas such as health and education.

What are the current UK car tax bands?

Since April 2018, cars have fallen into different road tax categories, depending on when they were first registered as a brand-new vehicle. If you opt to pay in instalments, it will also cost you a little more.

The current 2024/2025 tax band rates are as follows:

1. Cars first registered from 1 April 2017

Petrol cars, and diesel cars that meet certain emission standards, first registered on or after 1 April 2017 pay a first-year rate based on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions, then a standard annual rate of £190 from year two onwards.

Alternative fuel vehicles include hybrids, bioethanol and liquid petroleum gas.

CO2 emissions Petrol cars and diesel cars that meet the RDE2 standard All other diesel cars Alternative fuel cars
0g/km £0 £0 £0
1 to 50g/km £10 £30 £0
51 to 75g/km £30 £135 £20
76 to 90g/km £135 £175 £125
91 to 100g/km £175 £195 £165
101 to 110g/km £195 £220 £185
111 to 130g/km £220 £270 £210
131 to 150g/km £270 £680 £260
151 to 170g/km £680 £1,095 £670
171 to 190g/km £1,095 £1,650 £1,085
191 to 225g/km £1,650 £2,340 £1,640
226 to 255g/km £2,340 £2,745 £2,330
Over 255g/km £2,745 £2,745 £2,735

Rates for second tax payment onwards for cars registered after 2017

Fuel type Single 12-month payment Single 12-month payment by Direct Debit Total of 12 monthly payments by Direct Debit Single six-month payment Single six-month payment by Direct Debit
Petrol or diesel £190 £190 £199.50 £104.50 £99.75
Electric £0 N/A N/A £0 N/A
Alternative £180 £180 £189 £99 £94.50

All diesel cars first registered from 1 April 2018 have to pay additional road tax in the first year, unless they meet the Real Driving Emissions 2 standard for nitrogen oxide emissions (RDE2).

Those that meet the RDE2 standard will pay the same in the first year as their petrol counterparts. After that, their road tax is higher to encourage people to buy more environmentally friendly vehicles.

New diesel vehicles registered after 1 April 2018 that don’t meet the real driving emission step 2 (RDE2) standard will be charged a supplement on their first-year rate to the effect of moving up by one VED band.

Alternative fuel cars pay £10 less in the first year, then a standard annual rate of £180 from year two onwards. Alternative fuelled vehicles, include hybrids, bioethanol and liquid petroleum gas cars.

2. Cars first registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017

Depending on the amount of CO2 they emit, cars will fall into one of 13 tax bands lettered from A (less than 100 g/km) to M (more than 255 g/km). So, a car in band A will pay £0, while a car in band M will pay an annual VED rate of £735 for a single 12-month payment.

Alternative fuel cars (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, LPG, CNG, biofuel) that fall into bands A to M pay £10 less than petrol or diesel models in the same band.

Cars first registered before 23 March 2006 will pay a maximum cap of £415 even if they emit more than 225 g/km of CO2 for a 12-month annual payment.

Petrol and diesel cars

Band and CO2 emission Single 12- month payment Single 12-month payment by Direct Debit Total of 12 monthly instalments by Direct Debit Single six-month payment Single six-month payment by 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 £35 £35 £36.75 N/A N/A
D: 121 to 130g/km £160 £160 £168 £88 £84
E: 131 to 140g/km £190 £190 £199.50 £104.50 £99.75
F: 141 to 150g/km £210 £210 £220.50 £115.50 £110.25
G: 151 to 165g/km £255 £255 £267.75 £140.25 £133.88
H: 166 to 175g/km £305 £305 £320.25 £167.75 £160.13
I: 176 to 185g/km £335 £335 £351.75 £184.25 £175.88
J: 186 to 200g/km £385 £385 £404.24 £211.75 £202.13
K**: 201 to 225g/km £415 £415 £435.75 £228.25 £217.88
L: 226 to 255g/km £710 £710 £745.50 £390.50 £372.75
M: Over 255g/km £735 £735 £771.75 £404.25 £385.88

**Band K includes cars with a CO2 figure over 225g/km but registered before 23 March 2006.

You can check what car tax band your vehicle falls into by looking at CO2 emission details shown on the car’s V5C registration certificate. Or you can find your vehicle's emission details on GOV.UK. You’ll need to know when your car was first registered and the exact model.

3. Cars first registered before 1 March 2001

These older cars (private vehicles or light goods vehicles) will be charged a standard VED rate based on the size of their engine, how the payment is made and whether it’s for six or 12 months:

Engine size (cc) Single 12 month payment Single 12 month payment by Direct Debit Total of 12 monthly instalments by Direct Debit Single six- month payment Single six- month payment by Direct Debit
Not over 1549 £210 £210 £220.50 £115.50 £110.25
Over 1549 £345 £345 £362.25 £189.75 £181.13

Expensive cars

As of April 2018, VED for cars first registered after 1 April 2017 are not only based on CO2 emissions but also the vehicle’s value when bought new.

Vehicles with a list price of £40,000 or more have to pay a supplement for the first five years – currently £410 – from the second time the vehicle is taxed. Owners of zero-emission electric vehicles over £40,000 currently don’t have to pay this supplement but will have to after 2025.

It’s the value of the vehicle when bought new that counts. So if you buy an expensive car second-hand for less than £40,000 but its original list figure was more than this, you’ll have to pay the additional VED.

VED from years 2-6 for vehicles registered after 1 April 2017 with a list price of more than £40,000 is:

Fuel type Single 12-month payment Single 12 month payment by Direct Debit Total of 12 monthly payments by Direct Debit Single six-month payment Single six-month payment by Direct Debit
Petrol or diesel £600 £600 £630 £330 £315
Alternative £590 £590 £619.50 £324.50 £309.75

Changes to VED for electric cars from 2025

From April 2025, electric cars, vans and motorcycles will begin to pay VED in the same way as petrol and diesel vehicles. This means:

  • New zero-emission cars registered on or after 1 April 2025 will be liable to pay the lowest first year rate of VED (which applies to vehicles with CO2 emissions 1 to 50g/km) – currently £10 a year.
  • From the second year of registration onwards, they’ll move to the standard rate, currently £190 a year.
  • Zero-emission cars first registered between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2025 will also pay the standard rate.
  • New zero-emission cars with a list price of more than £40,000 registered on or after 1 April 2025 will be liable for the Expensive Car Supplement for five years. EVs had previously been exempt.
  • Zero and low-emission cars first registered between 1 March 2001 and 30 March 2017 currently in Band A will move to the Band B rate, currently £20 a year.
  • Rates for alternative fuel vehicles and hybrids will also be equalised.

There’ll also be changes for vans and motorbikes:

  • Zero-emission vans will move to the rate for petrol and diesel light goods vehicles, currently £335 a year for most vans.
  • Zero-emission motorcycles and tricycles will move to the rate for the smallest engine size, currently £25 a year.

Which tax band is my car by reg?

You can use your registration number to check which car tax band your car is in, using the government’s Vehicle Enquiry Service. You’ll need the latest 11 digit reference number from the V5C registration certificate (logbook).

The Vehicle Certification Agency will help you find the tax rate for either a new or used car, but you’ll need to know the CO2 emissions from the log book. If the car is a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), you’ll need the WLTP ‘Weighted’ CO2 figure. For any other type of car, you’ll need the WLTP CO2 figure.

If you’re buying a used or new car, the previous owner or the dealer should also be able to help you.

What cars are exempt from paying VED?

Vehicles exempt from paying VED include:

Just remember, even if your vehicle is exempt and you don’t have to pay anything, you still have to apply for road tax.

Who is exempt from paying VED?

You can apply for exemption from paying vehicle tax if you get the:

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Frequently asked questions

How do I pay my car tax?

You can pay your car tax online at GOV.UK or at your local Post Office. Taxing a vehicle online is much quicker and the service is available 24/7. To tax a car, you’ll need a reference number from either:

  • A recent reminder (V11) from the DVLA
  • Your vehicle’s V5C log book
  • The green ‘new keeper’s’ slip (V5C/2) from your logbook, if you’ve just bought the car.

If you’re paying at the Post Office and your car is more than three years old, you’ll also need a valid MOT certificate.

You have to tax your vehicle even if you don’t have to pay anything, for example if you’re exempt because you’re disabled.

How often do I need to pay my car tax?

Your car tax is valid for 12 months, so you’ll need to pay it each year. You could also spread the cost by paying monthly, six-monthly or by annual Direct Debit. Just be aware there’s a surcharge if you pay monthly or every six months.

What happens if I don’t tax my car?

If you don’t tax your car, you could be issued with a Late Licensing Penalty (LLP) and an £80 penalty.

If you drive an untaxed vehicle without a SORN, you’ll be issued with an Out of Court Settlement letter. This comes with a £30 fine plus one-and-a-half times the outstanding car tax rate.

The penalty increases to £2,500 if you’re caught driving an untaxed vehicle with a SORN in place.

If you fail to pay a vehicle tax fine, the authorities could clamp or crush your car. You may even be taken to court where you’ll face a much higher penalty.

How can I check if my car is taxed?

You can check if your vehicle tax is up to date and when it expires using the DVLA’s vehicle enquiry service. All you need is your car’s registration number.

Why is my car tax so high?

The CO2 emissions and the value of your car could push you into a higher tax band. Cars with lower emissions are cheaper to tax. Older, more polluting cars can be more expensive to tax.

If you buy a car with a price list over £40,000, you’ll also need to pay a VED supplement on top of the standard rate for five years.

Should I choose a low-tax car?

It could certainly help your running costs if you choose a low or no-tax car. Cars that are cheaper to tax may also hold their value better.

While brand-new electric cars are typically more expensive to buy, you’ll have no road tax to pay until 2025. Thereafter tax rates are at the lower end of the scale, potentially helping to make running costs cheaper.

If you don’t want to stretch to a brand-new electric model, there are plenty of petrol and diesels that fall into the low car tax bands.

What happens to my car tax if I sell my car?

You’ll need to cancel your vehicle tax and tell the DVLA you’ve sold the car. You should apply to get a car tax refund for any full months of remaining tax.

You can no longer transfer any remaining car tax to the new owner. This change was introduced in 2014, when paper tax discs were abolished.

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Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie

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