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What happens if you forget to renew your car tax, insurance or MOT?

When life’s busy, it can be harder to keep on top of life admin like your MOT, insurance or car tax. But what happens if you forget to renew them? Will you get fined? If so, how much will it cost you?

Here’s what could happen if you forget to tax, MOT or insure your car.

When life’s busy, it can be harder to keep on top of life admin like your MOT, insurance or car tax. But what happens if you forget to renew them? Will you get fined? If so, how much will it cost you?

Here’s what could happen if you forget to tax, MOT or insure your car.

Written by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
22 NOVEMBER 2023
5 min read
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What happens if I forget my MOT, tax or insurance?

The first thing to know is that it’s illegal to drive your car unless it has valid road tax, MOT and insurance. Without them, you’ll be committing a criminal offence – even if you’ve genuinely just forgotten.

This is what could happen if you forget to renew your MOT, tax or car insurance.


If your MOT runs out, you’re not allowed to drive your car or even park it on the road. If you’re caught doing so, you could be fined £1,000 and prosecuted. Also, if you have an accident while driving without an MOT, you’re likely to find your insurance is invalid.

To help you remember when your MOT’s due, it’s always worth adding a reminder to your calendar on your phone. Alternatively, the government offers a service where you can sign up to free text reminders a month before your MOT is due.

Car tax

If you don’t tax your car or tell the DVLA it’s off the road using a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), you could be fined £80. If you don’t pay the fine, the authorities are within their rights to clamp or crush your car. The fine could also be passed on to debt collectors.

The DVLA sends you a reminder that your car needs taxing, so don’t ignore it when it arrives. If you move, make sure to update them with your change of address so that reminders can come to the right place.

Remember, if you’ve declared your car off the road with a SORN, you can’t drive it or even park it on a public road – it has to be kept on private land or in a garage.

Car insurance

Driving without car insurance is illegal. If you’re caught, you could be fined £300 and receive six points on your licence. If it goes to court, you could be disqualified from driving and landed with an unlimited fine.

Many insurance policies have an auto-renew clause. This means your car insurance will renew automatically without you having to do anything.

However, if you cancel your auto-renewal, make sure you have another policy in place when your car insurance runs out.

When is driving without tax, MOT or car insurance legal?

It’s only legal to drive a vehicle on UK public roads without valid insurance, tax or MOT in certain situations.


It’s possible to drive without paying for tax if:

  • You’re taking a car with a SORN to the garage for its pre-booked MOT
  • You’re disabled and exempt
  • You drive an electric car – this doesn’t include hybrids or plug-in hybrids.

That said, even if you’re exempt, you’ll still have to tax your car – you just won’t have to pay for it.

Did you know?

In the days of displaying a paper tax disc on your windscreen, you’d get a five-day grace period during which you could drive legally without tax. This would give your new tax disc time to arrive in the post.

Since things have moved online, paper discs no longer exist, and the grace period for car tax is no longer allowed. Your vehicle must be taxed from the moment you drive it on public roads.


You can only drive without an MOT in the following circumstances:

  • To or from a garage to be repaired
  • To a pre-booked MOT test
  • If your car is less than three years old and doesn’t require an MOT
  • If your car was first built or registered more than 40 years ago.


If you take your car off the road and want to stop your insurance, you must declare it SORN.

You can only drive a vehicle with a SORN on a public road to go to or from a pre-booked MOT test.

How to check if a car has an MOT, tax and insurance

The simplest way to check if a car has an MOT, tax and insurance is to use the following online government services. All you need is your vehicle’s registration number.

How long do you have to get an MOT after it expires?

There’s no grace period for an expired MOT. You must arrange a new MOT test before the current one runs out. You can do this up to a month (minus a day) before it’s due to expire without losing any remaining days on the certificate.

So, for example, if your MOT runs out on 30 July, and you book an MOT test for 15 July, your new certificate will run until 30 July the following year.

Does car tax and insurance automatically renew?

If you pay for your Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) by direct debit, then it automatically renews your road tax for you. You won’t receive a reminder from the DVLA, and you won’t need to do anything. You’ll just get an email or letter confirming that the payment has gone through.

If you don’t pay by direct debit, you can renew your car tax online. To do this, you’ll need a reference number.

You’ll find this on:

  • A letter from the DVLA
  • Your car log book (sometimes known as a V5C)
  • A slip from your log book.

When it comes to car insurance, many providers automatically renew when a policy comes to an end. Check the terms and conditions to be sure. If your provider auto-renews, it will say so in there. However, don’t just assume your provider will auto-renew for you. If it doesn’t auto-renew and your policy expires, you could end up driving without insurance, which is illegal.

Your insurance provider should let you know when your insurance is about to expire. But ultimately, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re properly insured.

Even if you have an auto-renewal agreement, it’s almost always worth shopping around for a better deal. Also, it’s easy to compare car insurance and should only take a few minutes of your time.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if my car tax direct debit bounces?

If the direct debit for your car tax fails because you don’t have enough cash in your account, the DVLA will email you. They’ll then try to take the payment again within four working days.

If that fails again, you’ll get an email confirming that your direct debit has been cancelled and your car is no longer taxed.

If that happens, you’ll have to take your car off the road and SORN it until you can renew your road tax.

When do I need to get an MOT?

An MOT is a test to make sure your car meets road safety and environmental standards. By law, you need to get one done by the third anniversary of your car’s registration.

If your car’s more than three years old, you’ll need to do it by the anniversary of your last MOT.

Can I renew my car tax if my MOT has expired?

No. If your car tax is about to run out, you’ll need to call the DVLA and register your car as off the road. You can’t renew your car tax without having a valid MOT.

Where can I book an MOT?

You can book your MOT at any approved MOT test centre. Many garages will offer you free pick-up and delivery.

How much is an MOT?

Garages aren’t allowed to charge you more than £54.85 to MOT a car, or £29.65 for a motorbike. And there’s no VAT added to that, either.

How can I tax a car without a V5 log book?

You can’t tax a car without a V5 log book. If your log book is lost, stolen or damaged, you can apply for a replacement V5 online or at the Post Office.

You may be able to apply for a new V5C at the Post Office and tax your vehicle at the same time.

How can I check a car insurance expiry date?

The simplest way to check your car insurance expiry date is to look at the renewal date on your policy documents or car insurance certificate. If you can’t find your car insurance paperwork, contact your provider, and ask them directly.

They should also send you a reminder before your policy is due to expire.

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