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Can you tax a car without insurance?

Can you tax a car without insurance?

Running a car is expensive and there’s always something to fork out for, whether it’s tax, insurance or fuel. But when it comes to tax and insurance, can you have one without the other, do you need both tax and car insurance, and which one should you do first?

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 29 OCTOBER 2019

What is car tax?

Car tax is officially called Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). New rules were introduced at the beginning of April 2017 and now the amount of VED you’ll pay depends on how much CO2 your car emits and how much your car is worth. You can find more in our handy guide to car tax bands.

What is car insurance?

If you drive a car, then you need car insurance. The absolute minimum required by law is third party insurance. This covers you for injury you cause to other people and damage you cause to their property. It won’t cover the cost of repairs to your own vehicle.  

Check out all the levels of cover available in our guide to the different types of car insurance.

Can I tax my car without insurance?

No you can’t. To tax a car you must already have an insurance policy in place.  

You can tax your car without having the actual insurance document to hand, but you still need to have car insurance (in Northern Ireland you’ll need the insurance document or cover note if you pay for your car tax at the post office).

The DVLA’s Motor Insurance Database automatically knows if a car is insured and has an MOT. This information will be used when you tax your car either online or at the post office.  

The only time you don’t need to tax or insure your car is if you declare it off the road and make a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). This means you can’t drive or park your car on a public road, and it must be kept in a garage or on private land.

Can I drive my car home if I’ve just bought it?

If you’ve just bought a car, you must tax it in your name before driving it away. The road tax is not transferred from the old owner to you, the new owner, when you buy the car. And you must have insurance, as well as a valid MOT if the car is more than three years old.

What do I need to tax my car?

You can tax your car instantly online, or at a Post Office.  


To pay for your VED online by direct debit, debit or credit card, you’ll need a reference number that can be found on:

  • A recent reminder (V11) or ‘last chance’ warning letter from the DVLA.
  • Your vehicle log book (V5C), which has to be in your name.
  • The green ‘new keeper’s details’ slip (V5C/2) from the V5C log book if you’ve just bought the car.

Post Office

To pay for your VED at a Post Office, you’ll need to take one of the following:

  • Your vehicle log book (V5C), which has to be in your name.
  • The green ‘new keeper’s details’ slip (V5C/2) from the V5C log book if you’ve just bought the car.
  • You may be asked to show a valid MOT certificate if the vehicle is more than three years old.
  • In Northern Ireland, you’ll also need an insurance certificate or cover note.

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