Do you need insurance to tax a car?

Road tax disc

Owning and running a car comes with a lot of financial responsibility, and whether you’re having to pay for the initial purchase of the car, insurance and tax for the vehicle, or paying for a service and MOT, it seems like there’s always associated costs with having a car.

In order to be better prepared about the financial costs associated with owning a car, you need to make yourself aware of everything from car tax bands to vehicle excise duty and car insurance.

If you’re asking questions such as “do I need car insurance to tax my vehicle?”, then you’ve come to the right place. In our guide below we give you the lowdown on taxing and insuring your car and what you should get first.

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What is road tax?

Road tax, or VED (vehicle excise duty), is simply the cost of paying to use your vehicle on the road.

The amount of tax that you pay depends on how much your car is worth and how much CO2 it emits. Car tax bands are used to determine how much different cars pay for their road tax.

What is car insurance?

Car insurance is a legal requirement in the UK and it involves paying for a policy that covers you in the event of an accident, theft or damage. The legal minimum requirement for car insurance in the UK is third party only which covers you for any damage caused to another person and their property, but it doesn’t cover you for the costs of repairing your own vehicle.

Types of car insurance

As well as third party only insurance, you can also get third party fire and theft and comprehensive car insurance as well. 

Do you need both car insurance and road tax?

In order to legally drive a car on the roads in the UK, you must have both car insurance and road tax when owning and operating a vehicle.

What do I need to be able to tax my car?

In order to tax your car, you must first have an insurance policy in place. The Motor Insurance Database (MID) keeps all vehicle insurance and MOT information up-to-date and they automatically know whether a car is insured or not. 

If you decide to declare your car as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification), then you don’t need to tax or insure your vehicle, but you won’t be able to drive it or park it on a public road.

You can tax your car at your local Post Office or online. If you’re going to tax it at a Post Office, you will need to provide one of the below:

  • Your vehicle log book (V5C), which must be registered in your name.
  • If you’ve just bought the car, you will need to take the green new keeper’s details slip (V5C/2) from the car’s log book.
  • If the car is more than three years old, you might have to bring a copy of a valid MOT certificate.

Can I tax my car without a V5?

While it might make it a little trickier to tax your car without the necessary V5C document, it is still possible to do so as long as you have the V11 reminder letter which contains an 11-digit reference number that allows you to tax the car.

Can I tax my car while I’m waiting for my log book to arrive?

You can also tax your car if you’re waiting for the log book to be delivered. Again, you will need either the 11-digit reference number that comes on the V11 reminder letter or you will need the 12-digit reference number as found on the green new keeper slip.

How long does it take for road tax to show up online?

Car tax can show up online pretty much as soon as you tax it, but in some cases, it can take up to five days to show online. As long as you have proof that you’ve taxed your vehicle, then you will be legally permitted to use it.

How do you tax a car if you have just bought it?

If you’ve just bought a car, then you must tax it before you drive it away from the place of purchase. Road tax isn’t automatically passed on to the new driver from the previous owner, so it’s your responsibility to tax your new car as soon as you’ve bought it. You should also ensure that it is insured and has a valid MOT.

You can tax a car that you’ve just bought online or at the Post Office.

What must you have when renewing vehicle tax?

When renewing your vehicle tax, you must have a valid insurance policy - otherwise, you won’t be able to tax the vehicle or renew it.

You can renew your vehicle tax online or at a local Post Office, and you must ensure that the vehicle is properly taxed and insured before you can drive it anywhere or park it on a public road.

What are the consequences of not having car tax?

While there are no driving licence points to be incurred if you don’t have valid car tax, you will likely receive an automated letter from the DVLA, as well as a fine of up to £1,000. 

The fine is usually only £80, with a 50% discount if you pay it within 28 days, but if you fail to pay the initial fine, you could be prosecuted and the penalty could be increased to £1,000. It’s also possible for the DVLA to clamp your vehicle until the necessary amount of vehicle tax has been paid.

There are a few exceptions when you are legally permitted to drive your car without tax, including if you’re driving your vehicle to a pre-booked MOT test, but you must ensure that you drive straight to the MOT test centre, otherwise the exemption won’t be allowed.

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