Road Tax, MOT, Insurance - What to Remember if You Own a Car
Owning a car is a complicated business. You need to think about road tax, insurance, MOTs, and these things pretty quickly add on to the costs of owning a car. But what exactly does the law say, and what happens if you get it wrong?
Road tax - you need a valid tax disc to avoid a fine
If you're driving or storing your car on a public road you need to pay road tax (also known as vehicle tax or car tax). To show that your tax is up to date you need to display a valid tax disc in your front window. Road tax can be renewed 6-monthly or yearly, depending how much you want to pay at one time.
Renewing your tax disc should be straightforward - you should receive a reminder form in the post about 2 weeks before your current disc runs out. You can use a reference number from this form to renew at a post office, online or on the phone. If you don't have a renewal reminder, you will need a reference number from your car registration certificate. Whatprice provide more information on renewing your tax disc.
In order to renew your road tax, you also need a valid MOT certificate (if your car is over 3 years old) and valid insurance. This is normally done by showing certificates at the post office, or can be checked on a computer if you renew online or on the phone.
If you are the registered owner of a car, you are responsible for paying road tax, so you must tell the DVLA if you sell or scrap your car. If you decide to keep your car off the road for sometime, you must make a SORN declaration (Statutory Off Road Notification).
It is almost impossible not to pay road tax now, if you are the registered owner of a car. The DVLA does monthly checks for untaxed cars and will send you an £80 fine within 4-6 weeks of your tax running out. The fine is reduced to £40 if you pay within a month, but can increase to £1000 if you continue to drive without a valid tax disc, and your car may be clamped.
When you order a new tax disc you can backdate it by 14 days, so if you are a little late renewing you can avoid a fine, as long as there is no gap between the two tax discs. However, you musn't use your car on the road before you receive the new disc.
The only time you can drive a car without valid tax is if you are unable to renew your tax because your MOT has run out. Then you can drive your car to a pre-booked MOT test.
MOT - you need a valid MOT certificate if your car is over 3 years old
If your car is over 3 years old you need to get an MOT, and renew the certificate every year. It is illegal to drive without an MOT (you can be fined up to £1000 if caught), and you cannot renew your road tax without a valid MOT certificate.
The only time you can drive without an MOT is to a pre-booked MOT test. The MOT system is currently becoming computerised, so police patrol cars can check on specific cars.
You are most likely to get in trouble for not having an MOT if you're involved in a crash. You may have problems with the insurance company - check your policy to see if your car requires a valid MOT for the insurance to be valid. Most policies require the car to be ‘roadworthy' for insurance to be valid, but of course a valid MOT does not necessarily mean the car is roadworthy at the time of the accident.
MOTs are renewed yearly, although you can go to the garage for a test at any time. If you go for the MOT less than a month before your old certificate runs out, the new certificate will start after the old one runs out (ie. your new MOT will last slightly over one year). At any other time, the new MOT certificate will be dated from the day of the test.
Take a look at our example prices for getting a Car MOT done.
Insurance - third party insurance is a legal requirement
It is illegal to drive a car without at least third party insurance. This insures against claims by other drivers but does not insure you or your vehicle (you need comprehensive cover for this). You will be unable to renew your road tax unless you have at least third party insurance.
If you are caught driving without insurance there are serious penalties - you will be fined and get points on your licence. It is also possible that your car can be seized and you may face prosecution.
3rd party insurance doesn't have to cost a fortune, take a look at our secret shopper who looked at the best internet car insurance websites.
Common problems - forgetting your MOT
If you are a registered car owner, you need to have insurance and keep your tax and MOT up to date. The most common problem is forgetting to renew your MOT certificate until you find you cannot renew your road tax. Many people set up some kind of MOT reminder to make sure this doesn't happen. Try searching for ‘MOT reminder' online to find a service that will email you.
Next - The cost of owning a car
If you found this page useful please click the +1 button below to tell Google that its a great page!
Please share this page with others, and leave a comment, we value all feedback!
Was this page useful? Do you have something to add? Do you disagree?
If your comments meet our guidelines then we will publish them (you do not need to register!)
Ttradesman - click here to join our network to receive leads from customers in your area
"Just noticed the tax ran out on one car, the other is on stands. Tried renewing the tax online and then by phone but the system says i have to go to a post office. Its sunday. dvla is shut. Thanks dvla. Now left with two cars I can't drive."
"I\\\'m buying a brand new 14 plate and collecting it on 1st march. My current car tax runs out on the 28th feb, so do I need to renew it if I have to drive it to the dealership to pick my new car up? Thanks for your help."
"i have Mot and i have my insurence but my road tax is finished 31/7/13 can i still drive my car or not "
"can police seize your car if its got tax,mot,and insurance on it and the driver had abroad driving licince "
"i have just bought a used car which should be taxed until the end of april however the garage says it is not taxed and want to sell me the tax for an additional fee can they do this"
"i have just declared my van sorn as cannot afford to insure it for 1 month as am selling it in next few weeks. it still has approx 6months tax disc and mot on it. do i need to claim back tax and then re-tax it just prior to selling it or is the present tax and mot still valid??"
katty boop mum
"Computers are human made, and humans err... although it may be faster at times to get things done online, especially when research is concerned, do everything else in person to save yourself heartaches! Then at least if anything goes wrong, you can point at someone..."
"I shall be in hospital for some weeks when my car tax runs out. What shall I do?"
"I have sat at my computer all day in a remote area of Wales trying to tax my car on-line. I have in front of me a valid certificate of insurance issued on 29.05.2011. but I am being told `on-line` by .gov that my vehicle is uninsured. Even the `MIB` agree my vehicle is uninsured. I contacted my `broker` Roland Smith who confirmed that all insurance details have been forwarded to the MIB. Not a very good system in these days of virtual instant communication. I get a strong feeling that I am not alone as a victim of a creaking ailing system `Disgusted`"
"MY CAR TAX IS A WHOPPING £450 + A YEAR, IT IS IN BAND L but the emissions is lower than the category it is in therefore should in band k which is less money. can I appeal this."
Lainey. pt cruiser auto 08 model
"Kieran - NO! DEFINITELY NOT. Martin, retired police officer"
"Here again, mediocre public servants design a process without thinking about all possible situations. Consider this... you buy a vehicle, which has no tax, you insure the car (as we all do, either online or by phone. The documents take up to 7 days to come through, but because (for some irrational reason), DVLA will not let you tax online as the new owner until the documents are in your name. You have shelled out for insurance, which you can't use for maybe a week. If you are in the middle of a month, when you eventually get tax the vehicle (which is backdated to the beginning of the month) you pay for a weeks tax and a weeks insurance but without actually being able to use the said car. Government, again failing to allow people to go about their reasonable business and failing to meet the expectations of those that pay their salary."
"do you have to be insured if uve got a car in ur name?"
"can i drive my newly bought car to an mot station without any insurance"
"My car tax would be due 28th feb but I am selling the car this weekend with no MOT, what should I do as the DVLA wont know I have sold it by the time its due"
"i am upset at the fact i am waiting for my insurance papers to arrive for my vehichle, so i can then tax it, but reading this page says i can not drive it on public road untill i have the tax disk, i think this is wrong there should be a 14 day period of grace whilst waiting insurance details to arrive??"
"I wona know how with car registration mark know about car history car have mot and tax?"
"what i have to do when you got the car for first time, put insurance, MOT, and road tax?"
"i recently bought a car and was told there was tax till the end of the month, i.e tommorow. is there any way that i can check this as a disc was not supplied"
"Very useful information, thank you."
"I bought a used car yesterday, and today walked down the post office to pay my tax, when I came back my car had been clamped. when I went down to the car pound they said I should've bought tax before I bought the car! How can I buy tax for a car I don't own as I didn't have any documents for it?!? I bought tax as soon as I could and still get fined for it! Is there any advice for this? can I appeal?"
"my car has ran out of tax mot and has no inshrance if i book a mot test do i need inshrance and can i drive the car to the mot centre without tax ??"
"There is no such thing as Road Tax. It's VED, Vehicle Excise Duty, which is now in graded based on CO2 emissions. The rules for insurance, VED and MOT are clear enough, there should be no excuse for not complying with the law. If you can't do it don't drive."
"Hello id just passed my test and was my dad offered to give me hes car, so without thinking i went to pick the car up and whilst driving it back i got stopped without insurance, i was planning to get insured as soon as i got home which i did do.. 5 months on and ive recieved a letter saying i have to go to court, does this mean im going to get a straight ban? have i got any defence to avoid losing my license? somebody please help"
"I was shopping around for insurance for a new car. The dealer is quoting almost 18k and when I asked some of the insurance companies they quoted 12k-14k. Which one is better.Should I go with the dealer or why is there such huge difference between direct quote and dealer quote. Intraday Tips "
"iv got a car which is sorn can i drive the car down to the mot place with just insurance and no tax "
"I brought my tax disc at the correct time 1st May 2010, but forgot to put in the vehicle and popped up to the shop again for something else, low and behold i got stopped asked where my tax disc was and no have been summoned for failing to display can they do this ?"
"My car is coming up for it's first birthday so it's first service May 2010. When would I have to get a mot? I understand for first 3yrs you don't have one so, would I have to mot it 2012when it reaches it's 3rd birthday or 2013"
"thanks for advice about mot but i need to know exactly when my first mot is due and how to go about getting it the dvla site does not tell me no-one has contacted me so HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FIND OUT?"
"I taxed my car online and paid from 1st April for six months tax. I still haven\'t received my tax disc. Can I drive my car?"
"Hi I have just received tax reminder. Mot is valid until end of March. New tax begins on April 1st. Can I retax my car with this Mot certificate? Thanks "
"my car has a valid mot nd is insured i cant get a tax disc until my insurance certificate arrives cud the police take my car away cos its not taxed ?"
"what if your storing your vechicle on your own property,in your driveway where there is multiple parking spots , what would be the responsible thing to do"
"When is a tax disc valid from? is it from the day i buy it? or the first of the month?"
"I have a car that is stuck in france and the mot and tax has run out, i need to get insurance to drive it back so it can have an mot and tax. how do i go about this??"
"my mot was 4days out of date and i was in a accident, with broken bones in hospital i have to tel my insurance but not sure what will happen can any body tell me"
"I spent all day looking for my cover note because I like so many failed to read the litle leaflet that comes with the tax reminder. "If you prefer to tax in the last few days of the month, there is now an exemption from the offence of not displaying a tax disc. This exemption covers the first five working days of the month and allows time for the new disc to arrive in the post. The exemption only applies if applications are made before the current tax disc or SORN expires." They can check online that your insured if you buy the disk online. You can check you are on that insurance system by putting yr reg in www.askmid.com. Hope this helps. "
"Hi, I need to get my road tax as it runs out on 30 Aug but I havent received my new insurance docs yet. My current insurance runs out on 31 Aug. Can I use this one to get my tax or do I need my new certificate please?"
"Can I get car tax with provisional insurance?"
"I got MOT, insurance and small green paper from seller. Is that enough to buy a tax disc?"
"If your car is taxed, insured and MOT'd but you are waiting for your Tax disk to come in the post, can you get done for driving your car without displaying a valid tax disk???"
"If i tax my car over the phone but go on holiday before the new disc arrives am i still covered to drive my car while i am away."
"i need to tax my vehicle as my new insurance starts on the 1st of july 2009 but i just recently bought my vehicle and my log book has not come back yet and i want to avoid waiting 6 weeks until it does, and i don't have the green slip, is their anyway i can tax it ? "
"cant find m-o-t cert do i need it to buy car tax on line
Admin: You don't need the actual cert as it knows if you car has one in date - at least we didn't "
"So, by the looks of things....if you want to buy a car with NO tax.....how do you get tax on it until you'v insured yourself?....details and paperwork come through the post 3-4 days later....what do i do with the car, where should i put it if its not legal to keep on the road...i have nowhere else for it to go as im a student and have no relatives in the area to keep it in a garage....
really stupid if you ask me...if you need to be insured, surely you could print off an email of confirmation so you could then get it taxed....?? Please help...i want a car, but i don't wana get my ass fined by the fed's....esp if i knew what i was doing in the first place..."
"Hey i need help ! I bought my car not to long ago it's still in the last owners name as i haven't sent off the log book yet. Does that affect me getting tax ? Also i have no insurance on the car as i haven't passed my test yet its on monday ( no i haven't been driving it ) But i've been told i can get temporary insurance for a day, can you get tax with temporary insurance? This is all so confusing :o( HEEELLLPPPP x"
"Thank You what i read about MOT and Road tax was really helpful so thank you for making life much easier for people like me. "
"I cant fnd an answer on this so any advice would be great! I have to tax my second car which is registered in my name, I drive this car on third party ony as Im fully comp on my family car. Hpw can I tax my second car on third party insurance? Can I use the cert I have for my family car?"
"today my tax rd will run out ang i lose my insurance certificate i went to post office they didnt help me also i cant order online because from last week i moved from current address and its to far from my new address, i rang to insurance to change my address and they will send me certificate 2days time .and i dont know what to do "
"If only it was that easy!! My daughter's tax was due for renewal at the end of February. Unfortunately she has recently moved back in with us after splitting with her boyfriend of 3 years. During the move all of her documents have been lost!! I have contacted DVLA and they advised that provided she has a dulpicate MOT and copy insurance certificate she would be able to renew at the nearest DVLA centre - wrong - They would not accept a copy of the Insurance Certificate, they need an original cover note or duplicate certificate, and a letter from us saying that she now lives with us. Of course this is all well and good but in the meantime the tax disc has expired and being a self-employed cleaner she need a vehicle. I managed to find an old renewal notification, but once again they would not accept this. I'm amazed that they cannot access their records to see that Insurance and MOT are in place and with proof of ID why they cannot issue the bloody certificate. Do you have any thoughts on this."
"Can someone else tax my car on there insurance, i just bought my car today and bought my insurance online so have to wait three days for my insurance documents, i have also had the dealer put it through its mot, im just wondering can my mate tax my car he is insured to drive any car pleasssse help im extremly confused have been told loads of different thing"
"This does not answer my particular problem. I have bought a second hand car that has not been taxed for two years and is currently registered as owned by a dealer. I have the MOT and log book. The Log book shows one lady mobility owner and not my name and address, so |I cant renew by phone or on line as the disc would be sent to the registered owner. I am insured but do not yet have the certificate or cover note so cannot renew at a post office. I do have evidence of insurance but only as an e mail from my insurance. company. I can't see how it is possible for me to buy a tax disc but I am breaking the law if I don't."
"To the individual who hasnt had an MOT for three years how have you been taxing your car? Also you are uninsured (a car without valid MOT automatically invalidates the insurance policy) so just be thankfull that you didnt have an accident during that time and expect a large fine and points from the Policy when the court summons appears. Ignorance is no defence, get a lawyer. Better still get a bus pass and leave driving to us legally insured drivers. "
Thames Valley Police
"I drove my car with no M O T for 3 years and now the police have found out. i went to the station to try to explain i forgot to renew but they weren't interested. How can I convince them otherwise as both myself and my wife are very upset over this."
"My car is out of tax and mot, I booked it into a garage for the mot, but, it got clamped the day before the mot test, as I was preparing the car for mot on a public road. On the day of the MOT I decided it would be a good idea to saw the clamp of myself because I could not afford the £260 release fee AND mot AND tax, this aroused attention from my neighbours as the grinder I used to hack into the clamp was extremly noisey. The Police were called, they did a check on my car and realised it was uninsured so decided to impound it (The clamp was still on by the way). Because my car was booked for the MOT the same day they impounded it (because of it being uninsured) did they have the legal right to do this? Thanks! "
"I need to know if I need mot if my car is off road? so the page failed to answer my question :("
"i was looking on information on how to move the vec without any tax or an mot. in order to get the vec mot'd?"
"This information is very useful. today i am going for mot without road tax. I also need one more information that if i am fully comp insured as second driver on a car can i drive another car (friend's car)."
"I'm waiting for a cheque to come for me to tax my car. tax ran out 3days ago, can i still drive my car? "
"my car was stolen off my drive and it didnt have a mot on it.It did have insurance and tax. Am i covered with the insurance"