A simples guide

What is a car tax band?

Road tax, car tax, vehicle excise duty (VED), whatever you want to call it – it’s a tax on your car and one that pretty much all of us with cars have to pay. But what exactly is it, what are ‘the bands’ and who’s exempt? Read on to find out.


What is car tax?

It was introduced in 1920 when it was originally used for road building and maintenance. But since 1936 it’s been used as a form of general taxation being used not only for infrastructure but also other things such as healthcare and education.The name ‘road tax’ or ‘car tax’ however, has stuck.

What are car tax bands?

Car bands are split from A through to M and for cars registered after 1 March 2001, what you pay will depend on your car’s carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) and fuel type. Emissions are calculated based on how much CO2 your car produces per kilometre you drive (g/km).

If your car was registered before 1 March 2001, then your car tax is based on engine size. There’s one tax band for engines under 1549cc and another for all other cars with engines over 1549cc.

car driving during sunrise

Working out your car tax band

Your vehicle registration certificate (V5C) will show your car’s CO2 levels, or you can check it online at Gov.UK, calculate vehicle tax rates. Generally the greater your car’s CO2 emissions, the more car tax you’ll pay.

The table below shows current* car tax bands for petrol and diesel cars and the corresponding CO2 emissions as well as how much it costs to tax with a single upfront payment. You can pay your car tax in instalments but this will usually incur extra fees.

Car tax band

CO2 emission (g/km)

12 month upfront payment


Up to 100




































Over 255


**data correct at May 2016
***includes cars with a CO2 figure greater than 225g/km but were registered before 23 March 2006

If you have an alternative fuel car, you’ll pay £10 less than the amounts shown above. But, there’s bad news for anyone with cars in bands H to M – your heavy CO2 emitting cars are taxed more in the first year it’s registered. After that first year, you’ll be charged the standard amounts for that band. Here’s what you’ll need to pay in the first year of registration:

Car tax band

12 month upfront payment in first year of registration













Are there any exemptions?

Lucky owners of cars in band A (the least CO2 emitting cars) are exempt from car tax. Plus, if your car is in band B, C or D, you won’t have to pay any car tax for the first year your car was registered. After that year grace period, you’ll have to cough up like everyone else.

If a vehicle is used by someone with a disability, it’ll usually be exempt from car tax – you can find out exactly what vehicles are eligible for exemption at gov.uk.

If your car’s a classic and is 40 years old or more then it’ll also be exempt from road tax. The classic car exemption works on a rolling 40 years – something for future classics to look forward to. Sit-on lawn mowers are also exempt, as are vehicles powered by steam (what a relief).

car key

How do I tax my car?

The easiest way to tax your car is online at gov.uk. You can also tax it by phone, call 0300 123 4321 (but note that charges may apply). If you prefer to leave the house, you can tax your car at the Post Office, you’ll need to take one of the following: your car tax reminder (V11), your V5C registration certificate in your name and if you’re a new registered keeper you’ll need the V5C/2 bit. It’s also worth taking along your valid MOT test certificate and a valid reduced pollution certificate if this applies to your car.

What’s a SORN?

This is a Statutory Off Road Notification – snappily known as a SORN. You’ll need one of these if you take your car off the road. To be eligible for a SORN you’ll need to keep your car in a garage, on a private driveway or on private land. If your car is stationary but parked on a public road, you’ll still need to tax it.

A SORN might be worth considering if you don’t use your car for long periods of time – such as if you live abroad for part of the year. You don’t have to renew a SORN and it lasts until you decide to start taxing your car again, or it’s sold, scrapped or permanently exported. If you decide to take out a SORN on your car and you have some months left on your car tax, you’ll be issued with a refund.

Changes from April 2017

Just when you thought you knew it all, the Government have decided to bring in some changes from April 2017. Here’s what you can expect to change:

• Cars registered after 1 April 2017 will all pay a one off higher car tax in their first year of registration based on their CO2 emissions
• There will only be two tax bands – zero emissions vehicles will not pay any tax and all other cars will pay a standard £140
• If your car is listed at £40,000 or more, then you’ll be expected to pay a supplemental fee of £310 for the first five years (on top of the standard £140)

What else will I need to fork out for?

But there’s one thing that’s predictably constant and that’s the need for car insurance. Luckily, comparing your options for car insurance is simple, just use our car insurance comparison service and tell us about you, your car and your driving history. We will show you your options so you can find the right cover at the right price for you.

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