Tax disc changes: UK VED road tax explained

Tax disc
18 Mar, 2014 2:00pm Steve Walker

The way you tax your car has changed - here's all you need to know about the changes in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)

The UK tax disc was phased out on October 1st, meaning you no longer need to display one in your windscreen. It marks the end of 93 years of having a little paper disc displayed as the way of checking a vehicle is taxed moves to using numberplate recognition cameras. 

We've put together a comprehensive guide to the changes in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), what the changes mean for you, how you pay and also what happens when you come to sell your car. 

• Guide to road tax bands

There have been no changes in road tax bands, so the price you pay for your tax stays the same. However, there are changes in the new system as to what happens when you come to sell your car and how you can pay, so we've explained it all below.

VED changes explained

As of October 1st 2014 the colourful paper circles are no longer being issued and the requirement for motorists to display them in their cars ends. In the tax disc's place comes a new system for paying your road tax, or Vehicle Excise Duty to use its proper name. 

This overhaul of the road tax arrangements ends the tax disc's 93-year reign and promises to make paying your car tax easier  while rendering the whole system cheaper to run. There is a catch, however, as you'll find out below.

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The new road tax set-up should also make things tougher for those seeking to avoid paying road tax. Rather than the visual check that the tax disc made possible, the authorities will rely on numberplate recognition cameras to determine that a vehicle has been taxed. 

Below we answer the key questions surrounding the new UK Vehicle Excise Duty road tax regime. Scroll down the page for everything you need to know about the death of the tax disc and what comes next...

What do the road tax changes mean for you?

The new car tax system isn’t being phased in gradually, UK motorists now no longer need to display a road tax disc on their car windscreen.

Even if you have time left to run on your car tax, the little disc can be removed and binned, framed for posterity or disposed of in a burning longboat on the garden pond, whatever you feel is appropriate.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay car tax though. The DVLA will send you a reminder when your road tax is up for renewal in the time-honoured fashion, you can then pay your road tax online, over the phone or at the Post Office.

Tax Disc

The road tax price bands remain the same, as do the existing options of paying for 12 or 6 months tax upfront but from November 1st there will be the option of paying your car tax monthly. This new monthly option arrives in tandem with the facility to pay your road tax by Direct Debit. 

Drivers paying in monthly instalments from their bank accounts will be subject to a 5% surcharge on top of the road tax price itself. That’s less than the 10% that’s added when you pay for six months tax, an option currently used by 23% of motorists. Only the one-off annual payment comes with no extra charges. 

The key advantage of paying your car tax by Direct Debit is that the DVLA will continue taking the payments until you tell them to stop. It means that you’ll no longer need to remember to renew your car tax, it'll just happen and you can get on with more exciting stuff - like remembering your MOT.

What happens to your road tax when you sell your car?

Under the new car tax system, the process of selling your car has changed. Any remaining road tax will not transfer to the new owner with the vehicle.

Instead, the seller can get a road tax refund on any tax remaining on the vehicle, while the buyer has to pay to re-tax the car.  

The tax refund on a sold car will be sent automatically when the DVLA receives notification that the car has been sold, scrapped, exported or taken off the road with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

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Sellers are expected to inform the DVLA of any change of ownership straight away or face a £1,000 fine. If they don’t, they could also still be liable for speeding or parking fines incurred by the new owner.

Information on whether or not a car is taxed is available online via the Government website. All you need is the make and model of the car plus the registration number.

Is there a catch to the new Vehicle Excise Duty regime?

So far, so good for the new road tax system but as often seems to be the case, there is a catch.

The problem that's getting motorists riled centres around the refund you get on outstanding road tax when you sell your car. When ownership of a vehicle is transferred the previous owner gets a refund on any outstanding road tax but that refund is calculated from the beginning of the next month. The new owner, on the other hand, has to tax the car anew and their bill is calculated from the beginning of the current month.

What this means is that the Government effectively collects two lots of tax on the car for the month where ownership is transferred, one from the new owner who pays for that month and one from the previous owner who doesn’t get the tax for that month included in their refund. It's sneaky stuff and should give a useful boost to the exchequer, but at the expense of motorists.  

What will the tax disc changes mean for policing road tax?

It’s been the case for a while that most inspectors patrolling the roads in search of un-taxed vehicles use automatic number plate readers instead of visually checking the tax disc. The police also rely heavily on number plate recognition cameras to catch untaxed drivers out on the road so in that respect, very little will change.

What the new system brings is an estimated saving to the tax payer of £10million per year.

The tax disc has had a good innings. More than 1.7 billion of them have been issued since 1921 and in 2013 a total of 42.2million were issued by the DVLA. You can’t stop the relentless march of technology though and the new system promises real improvements in the UK road tax system that should benefit motorists and save money.  

12-year-old tax disc collector vows to continue his hobby

For most 12-year-olds, the death of the tax disc won’t mean much, but that’s not true for Jude Currie. Jude, from Cobham, Surrey, has a collection of 12,000 tax discs with his oldest dating back to 1926.
“I don’t think it’s a good thing. It’s like taking away stamps,” he said.

Car enthusiast and Auto Express reader Jude started collecting tax discs in 2009 after spotting one on the windscreen of an abandoned Fiat advertised online. Since then he hasn’t looked back, often picking up discs from scrapyards. The 1926 disc – a present from his parents – is now worth around £100.

“I like all classic cars and the Metro is probably my favourite, I can’t wait to learn to drive” said Jude. But why the tax disc? He added: “I saw the tax disc on the abandoned Fiat and thought it would be an interesting thing to collect. I never had a target but the collection has just gone up and up – I never expected it to be so big.” 

But is it now the end of the road for his collection? “No, I’m going to hold onto it and add to it,”he explained. “More people will be giving the old ones away now, too.”

With thanks to

Goodbye to the tax disc: video

The DVLA produced the above video advertisement to raise awareness of the demise of the tax disc but a recent survey by suggests that 50% of motorists are still unaware that the tax disc change is imminent. The survey also found more than half of those who were aware of the road tax changes didn’t know when it was happening.  

Car tax changes: key questions answered

Where can I buy my car tax?

Online, by post, or at a Post Office. Monthly payment is now an option but it’ll cost more in total. You’ll still get a reminder.

Can I transfer my car tax?

No, tax will be automatically refunded when you sell or scrap the vehicle and notify the DVLA via the V5C.

Can I see if a car is taxed?

You can check the status of any car tax via the Government website. Visit and enter the reg number.

How will car tax be monitored?

Police cars are fitted with number plate recognition cameras already and the cameras are used across the road network.

What do I need to do?

If you’ve already got tax, the only thing to do is remove the disc from your car. Maybe frame it for posterity.

Click here to read our guide on the current UK car tax bands...