The no-nonsense guide to vehicle tax changes this October

The end is officially nigh for the UK tax disc

All you need to know about the new-fangled digital vehicle tax system

Goodbye tax disc

As of the 1st of October 2014, the familiar sight of tax discs on the windscreens of all UK vehicles will become nothing more than a memory. Now before you start celebrating with a wild street party, there is a catch- everyone will still need to pay vehicle tax.

At a respectable 93 years of age (the first tax discs making an appearance in 1921), it’s fair to say that the old dear is getting on a bit. So in a radical move to carry vehicle taxing into the 21st century, the DVLA has decreed that all vehicles must shortly be registered through the DVLA’s new online system. You must do this even if your tax is free. It’s also worth noting that if you’re in Northern Ireland- you’ll still be required to display your MoT disc on your windscreen in the soon to be semi-retro look.

Northern Ireland MoT disc

With over 200,000 vehicles being caught out with expired or non-existent tax discs last year, the new system will further allow police cameras to check a vehicle’s tax status through number plate recognition technology. Being caught out may result in a lofty £1000 fine. That means no more putting off that renewal until next Monday. However, you will receive a notification from the government to inform you when your tax is about to expire. Very thoughtful of them. But with flexible payment options and a new streamlined digital format, it will potentially remove a bit of admin from our lives too. Business fleet managers will especially love this fact. Everyone in this day and age likes a bit less clutter to deal with; plus according to Julie Daniels (head of motor at comparethemarket.com) it should also make insurance premiums fall, so let’s focus on the positives here. Although just how this will make an effect on premium rates is uncertain. It may simply be an optimistic forecast so time will tell on that one.

Although there will be a tiny amount of nostalgic value to the loss of the iconic tax disc, this new system won’t really make a humungous difference to the life of the everyday driver. It is however important to know how it affects you and what you need to do when this all comes into play on the 1st of October.

So what do you need to do?

The all important question. Well, if your current tax is due to expire any time after the October 1st then the answer is simply: nothing! Well nothing except take your tax disc off your window. Feel free to burn it or bury it with honours or whatever your preferred method of disposal is. Your tax will still be valid until its original expiry date, albeit in its new digital form. When it does expire you can renew it with the new system. You will get a reminder from the DVLA just before this date.

You can apply for your vehicle tax either online via the DVLA website (gov.uk/tax-disc), by phone (0300 123 4321- lines are open 24/7) or via the good old post office (from October 5th 2014). You will need your 16 digit reference number from your vehicle tax renewal reminder (V11) OR the 11 digit reference number from your log book (V5C) handy to make this happen.

You can pay through a handy new direct debit scheme. This will be available from the 1st of November 2014 and has a range of options: annually, 6 monthly or monthly (12 months tax paid for on a monthly basis). The payments will continue automatically until you tell DVLA to stop taking them or cancel the Direct Debit with your bank. The downside is that first registration vehicles, fleet schemes and HGV’s paying the Road User Levy will not have the Direct Debit option.

The biggest change will be to the buying and selling of vehicles-

  • When buying a vehicle, the tax will no longer transfer with the ownership so you’ll have to apply for tax before you can drive it.
  • If you sell (or scrap, declare off-road, export) your vehicle then you will be automatically refunded the remaining calendar months of your tax once the DVLA has been notified. It’s worth noting that not informing DVLA of a change of ownership could result in a £1000 fine so make sure you keep on top of that one.

If you want to check if the tax status of any vehicle then you can check it on the DVLA’s online Vehicle Enquiry System on: https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax. All you need to know is the vehicle’s make and registration number in order to use this.

So that’s pretty much the low-down of the situation. Don’t worry about it until your tax runs out or you purchase/trade/sell/right off/declare off road or export a vehicle- then it’s all a case of jumping on board with the digital age when the time comes!

You can check out the DVLA’s official video ‘Goodbye to the tax disc’.

Is taking the tax disk out to pasture long overdue?  Is the DVLA doing something right in updating vehicle tax to the digital age? Give us your comments below.


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Andrew Kirkley
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  • 26th August 2014

15 Comments

  • Ian| 3rd October 2014 at 12:32 pm Reply

    Surely this is a cost cutting activity!!
    Why can’t we have some saving on our ticket?

  • dean| 5th September 2014 at 2:02 am Reply

    my mother is disabled is there an option for disability tax on the new system?

    • Matt Beaumont| 5th September 2014 at 9:03 am Reply

      Hi Dean,

      They’re essentially just changing how your tax is registered. The DVLA hasn’t announced any intention of changing their stance on situations where your tax cost may be waved, such if you have a steam vehicle (yes that’s literally on there) and of course disability exemption. find out if your mother is eligible here: https://www.gov.uk/financial-help-disabled/vehicles-and-transport

  • Shaun| 3rd September 2014 at 9:30 pm Reply

    I have just taxed my car for one year and have the paper disc will I be able to sell my car with tax or will it come under the new system thanks

    • Matt Beaumont| 4th September 2014 at 9:44 am Reply

      Hi Shaun,

      If you sell the car before 1st October then the tax will carry over as with the currant/old system. However when it hits the 1st October you will no longer be able to sell the car on with tax. When you inform the DVLA of the change of ownership you will automatically be refunded for any calender months worth of tax left on your vehicle.

      It depends what you’d prefer- either sell it now to make it more appealing to a buyer (due to having a year’s worth of tax left on it) or sell it after 1st October and get your tax refunded to you.

  • Neil| 3rd September 2014 at 6:41 pm Reply

    If you are driving a vehicle that doesn’t belong to you, eg a works vehicle, one that you drive for an employer and don’t deal with any of the documentation, how do you know if it is taxed or not. The employer could say it is taxed and be lieing. With no tax disc to see, who would know any different. Well that is until the driver gets stopped by the police and told it’s not.
    Now as far as I’m aware the driver is responsible for the vehicle they are driving making them liable for prosicution. I learnt the hard way from a previous employer who told me the vehicle was mot’d and it turned out it wasn’t. So short of asking the employer to see all the documentation for a vehicle, which let’s face it many people would be scared to do as it shows a lack of trust and “making waves”, Is there any way to check the vehicle is taxed if you are not the owner or registered keeper?

    • Matt Beaumont| 4th September 2014 at 9:35 am Reply

      Hi Neil,

      that’s a very interesting question. If you’re worried that an employer is being shifty in regards to the vehicle being taxed, then you’re free to check it out yourself via the DVLA’s online Vehicle Enquirey System at: https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax. All you need to know is the make of the vehicle and its registration number in order to use it.

  • Peter| 3rd September 2014 at 6:33 pm Reply

    So my car is taxed till the end of the month, lets say it’s the 1st when I sell my car. I will not be issued any refund on the tax as there is less than 1 month remaining. The new owner then has to pay the tax for that month, so the tax for that month is being paid TWICE! Nice way to gain even more from the innocent motorist.

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