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Can I transfer road tax to a new or second-hand car?

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March 7, 2023
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The simple answer to the question, ‘can I transfer road tax to a new or second-hand car?’ is no. This has been law since 2014 when new legislation came into force saying road tax was not transferable between owners of a car. It is therefore essential that you tax your new or second-hand car before you drive it away. This article will tell you exactly what to do to drive legally and avoid incurring any penalties and fines.

What should I do when I buy a vehicle?

As soon as a car is sold, the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) must be informed. This must be done by the seller as they complete the ‘new keeper’ section of the V5C certificate and send it to the DVLA. You, as the new owner, retain the green section of the certificate. This can also be completed quickly online by telling DVLA that you’ve sold, transferred or bought a vehicle.

Can I transfer car tax to the new car?


While car owners were previously able to carry over any remaining months of tax to a new vehicle, this is no longer the case – the seller can’t transfer it. Most importantly, you cannot drive the car until you tax it, and you cannot tax it until you buy the car. If your car is not taxed, your insurance may be invalid. Not only are you liable to be fined for not having tax, but if you’re involved in an accident, or have your car stolen, you may be fined for not having insurance and even face a criminal conviction.

Because you need to tax the car before you drive it, you need the new keeper section of the V5C online. This will allow you to tax the car immediately. You can do this online, over the phone, or at a Post Office.

Remember that if you’re a disabled driver or you own a classic car, you might be eligible for road tax exemptions. Read our blogs to find out more.

Taxing your car online

To tax your vehicle online, you will need one of the following documents or pieces of information when you apply.

  • The 16-digit reference number on your vehicle tax renewal letter (V11)
  • The 11-digit reference number on your log book (V5C)
  • If you’ve just bought the vehicle, you can supply the 12-digit reference number on your new keeper supplement (V5C/2).

Some older vehicles have reference numbers of fewer than 12 digits. If yours is like this, you should contact the DVLA.

Taxing your car by phone

In order to tax your new vehicle by phone, call the DVLA’s automated 24/7 service. The process should take no more than five minutes. The number is 0300 123 4321 (textphone 0300 790 6201) and calls are charged at the local rate.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to pay by direct debit over the phone – you must pay via your credit or debit card. To do this you will need the same information you would when applying for tax online (see above).

Taxing your car at the Post Office

First, ensure the Post Office branch you intend to use still taxes vehicles, as many no longer do. If you’re not sure, you can look up which services are offered by your local Post Office branches online. Alternatively, your local Post Office will be able to tell you which branch to visit.

Ensure you take the following documentation:

  • Completed V11 reminder, V5C or new keeper supplement (V5C/2)
  • The correct payment or a debit or credit card (see below)
  • MOT test certificate (must be valid when the tax starts)
  • Insurance certificate or cover note (Northern Ireland only)

Can I tax my car without a V5C or V11 reminder?

Yes, but you must apply for a new V5C online or via post (you can get a form from the Post Office) first. This can take four to six weeks and will cost £25.

If you’ve lost your log book and you need to get another one, read out blog to find out how to do this.

How much tax will I pay?

First-year tax rates for new cars are based on CO2 emissions in g/km and differ from the standard rate. For example, a new, high-performance car such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio costs £2,015 for the first year of tax but comes down to the standard 12-month rate of £165 thereafter.

Standard rates can also vary for new cars, ranging from around £30 per year to around £540 – depending on power and emissions.

Used cars have already had their first-year tax paid so you will only pay the standard rate when buying a second-hand car. Most used cars registered on or after 1 April 2017 have a standard rate of around £165.

Cars registered before 1 March 2001 fall into two tax bands – engine sizes above and below 1549cc. See the table below to work out the tax you will pay.

Cars registered after 1 March 2001 and before 31 March 2017 are split across 13 tax bands (A-M) based upon CO2 emissions.

The best way to work out the specific amount of tax you would pay for a specific model is to use the Vehicle Certification Agency’s online tool. By putting in the age of the car, the model, its fuel type and transmission, the tool will tell you the amount of tax you must pay per year.

What should I do when selling a vehicle?

driving law

If you’re selling your car, you must let the DVLA know by returning the relevant portion of the V5C. Failure to do so will result in a £1,000 fine. Any full months still left on your road tax will be refunded automatically. For example, if you sell your car in mid-January and your tax runs out in the middle of March you will get one month’s tax refund.

Transferring ownership of a vehicle

Sometimes people will have ownership of a vehicle transferred to them – for example, a parent passing their car to a son or daughter. In this case, individuals are still not allowed to transfer tax remaining on it. Treat this situation as if it were a purchase and register the transfer with DVLA using the V5C.

As per a purchase, you will receive a refund for any remaining full months left on the vehicle tax when ownership is transferred. You may want to bear this in mind when choosing the date you transfer ownership.

Do I have to tax my car if it’s not on the road? (SORN)

SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification. It is a declaration that you must make to the DVLA if your car is not in use on public roads. Declaring your car as SORN means that you won’t need to pay tax or insurance for your vehicle, but you might still want to take out SORN insurance to protect your car while it’s laid-up.

You cannot transfer a SORN when you buy, sell or transfer a vehicle, so you must tell the DVLA that the car is off the road by making a SORN. If you stop taxing or insuring your car but have not declared it SORN, you may face a fine. This is the case even if you have a short delay in renewing your insurance policy.

Can I buy or sell a car without the log book?


In short, yes, you are still able to sell or buy a car without a log book, but it isn’t recommended to do so by the DVLA.

You may legally sell the car without your V5C (log book) as it is only used as proof of registration and not proof of ownership. However, you will need to give the prospective buyer a bill of sale, including all the information they would need to apply for a new log book using a V62 form.

The reason why the DVLA doesn’t recommend this is because buying a car without a V5C can be suspicious in some cases. Being in a hurry to sell a car could raise some concerns as to why the seller is looking for a quick sale.

Can you tax a car without a log book?

You are unable to tax a car without a log book, as you will need the 11-digit reference number. If you’re the new keeper of the car and you don’t have a V5C in your name, you can use your green new keeper slip to tax the car using the 12-digit reference number.

How to insure my new or second-hand car

Luckily, insuring your new or second-hand car is the easiest step in getting a new vehicle, especially when you speak to the experts at Adrian Flux. Whether your car is new or second-hand it will need an affordable car insurance policy.

We provide competitive insurance quotes for vehicles of all ages and conditions. Our best deals are only available over the phone – 81.5% of all customers receiving an online quote in August 2022 could have obtained a cheaper quote over the phone.

Call 0800 369 8590 for a swift no-hassle quote or book a callback at a time that suits you.

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