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How to check your car tax / VED – and why it’s useful

How to check your car tax / VED – and why it’s useful

24 January 2020 Concept Car

If you’ve only come here to find out how to check your car tax / VED, here’s the direct link to the official Road Tax Checker:

If you want to find out more about the tool and how to use it – read on!

Overview/Summary [If you don’t want to read the entire article]

Thanks to a concerted effort by the UK government, it has become very hard to forget paying your road tax. That’s not to say, however, that it’s impossible. This is why the official road tax checker remains a popular website with many thousands of visits each day.

Especially since failing to pay your road tax in full and on time can result in hefty fines.

Checking your car tax status makes sense if you forgot whether or not you already paid or if you want to make sure your payment was correctly processed.

It is also recommended when buying a used car. Each car in the UK needs to be properly taxed and road tax is not automatically transferred to the new owner. So if the previous owner did not pay her road tax, this a reason to get suspicious.

At the end of the article, we’ll also go through the steps you need to take to check your road tax on the government website.


UK Car tax: An introduction

Driving a car isn’t cheap. Road tax – more formally known as VED – is one of the things making it expensive. Consumer rights activists have waged war against this levy for ages.

After all, road tax does not actually benefit drivers in any way!

Although the money collected through the tax used to be allocated to road improvements, it is today treated as a general source of income for the government. A very profitable one to boot, if we may add, which adds to the standing charges for your car.

No use complaining …

Unfortunately, we can complain as much as we want – VED isn’t going away anytime soon. And there are no exceptions, either. If you want to drive a car in the UK, you will need to pay up or risk a hefty fine.

For this reason alone, it makes sense to check your car tax status from time to time. In this article, we’ll explain how to do that. We’ll also detail what happens if you’re caught driving with an untaxed vehicle.

Why it’s almost impossible not to pay

That said, it has become almost impossible not to pay VED. That’s bad news for tax evaders. But it’s good news for all those who want to fulfill their civil duties but may be slightly forgetful.

After all, being forgetful, as we already hinted, can become very expensive very quickly.

In the past, drivers would attach little paper discs to the front window of their car. These paper discs had the date of the next tax payment printed on them. This served not just as a reminder for the next payment. It also allowed the police to check with just one glance if VED had been paid or not.

Today, the car tax procedure has been considerably streamlined.

The DVLA sends out regular reminders so no one forgets to pay their duty. And you no longer need to go to the post office to make those payments. Online banking will work just as well with less physical exertion.

How anyone could forget to pay their car tax is beyond us. But it does happen!

Which is why the government keeps checking for perpetrators. Cars are no longer being stopped to check their car tax status. Instead, authorities rely on a network of 45,000 cameras to take pictures of license plates, which are then run through a database to spot potential offenders.

Why and when you should still check your car tax

Okay, so chances of you forgetting to pay VED are slim. Nonetheless, it can still occasionally make sense to check whether a car has been taxed or not.

One obvious reason is that you may simply be unsure whether or not you really did pay your yearly VED in time. The government does send out reminders, but it doesn’t actually make you pay. So it is thoroughly possible you did receive the letter but then did not act on it.

Another situation occurs when buying a used car.

This is because you can not tell just by looking at the car whether or not it is properly taxed. And even if you’re driving home with it for the first time, there is absolutely no wiggle room. Either you did pay your dues or you didn’t.

Even if you merely intend to take the vehicle home and then park it outside your home before taking care of everything, it needs to be taxed. Any offense will be fined accordingly.

In both situations, it is good to know that there is a very simple way to check on the VED status of your car.

What happens to road tax when you sell or buy a car?

Before we show you how to check your car tax in practise, there is one important thing you should understand. Why do you need to verify the car tax status at all when buying a used car? After all, you might assume that it is simply transferred to the new owner after the car has been sold.

This, however, is not the case.

As soon as you buy the car, you are now responsible for taxing the car. This means that you need to pay up first and only then are you allowed to actually drive the car home. If this sounds like a pretty big practicle obstacle, then it is. But there are unfortunately no exceptions to this rule.

How to check your car tax in four easy steps

If you’re selling the car, you can get back any VED paid for the period you’re no longer owner of the car. This needs to be done in writing, but is actually very simple.

How to check your VED Step 1: Government Road Tax Checker

The Government Road Tax Checker is a very simple and effective tool to see if you’ve correctly paid your vehicle excise duty. You can access it at gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax. The only thing you’ll need is the license plate of the car and you’re good to go.

How to check your VED Step 2: License Plate Number

Press “Start Now”. This will take you to a page displaying nothing but a small search field. Enter your license plate number here.

How to check your VED Step 3: Check car information

The next page is a transatory site. It simply shows you very basic information held in the database to identify your car. This includes the brand and colour. If these are correct, highlight the yes box and continue.

How to check your VED Step 4: Check car tax information

Already on the next page, you should be able to see if your ved status is okay or not. If it is, the only colour you’ll see is green. You should be able to see when you need to pay your VED again. As a bonus, you can also see how long your MOT is valid for.

If there is an issue, a red box will allert you that you still need to pay your tax. If your car is SORN, meaning you don’t need to pay VED, this will also be shown accordingly.

One thing you should be aware of is that there can be a short, but notable latency time. This means that you may have already paid your car tax but it doesn’t show up accordingly on the website. As long as this latency doesn’t exceed four days, you should still be okay. If it does, contact a representative using the contact numbers given on the site.

What happens if you don’t pay your car tax in time?

Driving with an untaxed car is not quite as bad as driving with an uninsured one. But it does get pretty close.

According to Lawble, the DVLA fine will set you back at least 80. But the police will also fine you and their penalties can be a lot higher. Fines of between £1,000 and £2,500 are possible in theory.

In practise, things hardly ever escalate this badly. If you agree to pay the fine on the spot and don’t take things to court, you should usually be okay. Still, fines can be painfully high. So make sure to always check your car tax status and to pay it in time!

24 January 2020 Concept Car