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

Car ownership advice
Road tax disc DVLA UK

This article is brought to you by Sell Your JamJar

The process for paying road tax when buying a used car in the UK changed two years ago, yet it still causes confusion among motorists today. We’ve updated this article from 2014 to bring you an up-to-date explanation of how it all works.

Before October 2014, a used car could be sold with any existing road tax (officially known as vehicle excise duty) being carried over to the new owner. So if you bought a car which still had three months of tax left, you didn’t have to renew it for three months.

It was simple, straightforward and everybody understood how it worked. So obviously the DVLA decided to completely screw the whole thing up.

Starting in October 2014, road tax no longer carries over when you buy or sell a used car. Instead, the new owner has to purchase road tax before taking possession of the vehicle from the previous owner.

Understandably, this creates more hassle for buyers, as you have to either go online or call the DVLA and pay road tax before you can drive off in your car – even though the previous owner has already paid road tax for the vehicle.

Because the DVLA is antiquated and unable to cope with the 21st century world we live in, it is only able to process road tax on a monthly or annual basis. So if you buy a used car on the 15th of the month, you have to pay road tax for the whole month.

But the previous owner will not be refunded for road tax already paid for that month. Therefore the DVLA has effectively double-taxed the vehicle for that month.

V5C logbook, UK registration certificate

Even if you’re giving your car to another family member at the same address, the tax won’t carry over. Both buyer and seller have to tax the car for a full month each time a used car is sold or transferred.

More than eight million used cars are sold each year in the UK. Obviously not all of them are already taxed at time of purchase, but it still means that the DVLA is effectively stealing millions of pounds from British motorists each year by double-taxing sold used cars for a month.

Road tax when selling a car: what do you need to do?

Since you can’t sell a car with road tax anymore, the existing tax will be cancelled as soon as the DVLA processes your notification of the ownership being transferred.

As a seller, you need to notify the DVLA immediately when you sell your car (or transfer ownership) to someone else. You will receive a refund for any whole months of road tax outstanding; so if you sell your car on the 1st of the month, you still have to pay a full month of road tax for that month. Unlike practically every other organisation on Earth, the DVLA can’t grasp the concept of billing by day rather than by

You will receive a refund for any whole months of road tax outstanding; so if you sell your car on the first of the month, you still have to pay for a full month of road tax.

Unlike practically every other organisation on Earth, the DVLA can’t grasp the concept of billing by day rather than by month. It’s perfectly happy to rip off British motorists with the government’s blessing.

If you fail to notify the DVLA that you are no longer the registered keeper of the vehicle, you could be fined up to £1,000.

Road tax when buying a car: what do you need to do?

When you buy a used car, you must pay road tax before driving off in the vehicle. Even if your car is just parked in the street, you must pay road tax.

You can pay your road tax:

  • Online (24 hours),
  • By phone on 0300 123 4321 (24 hours)
  • At a post office (during business hours only, and not every post office handles vehicle tax).

Unhelpfully, you also can’t set up a direct debit over the phone; only online or in person.

If you fail to pay the DVLA before driving away, you could be fined £80, or a maximum £1,000 if the fine is not settled within 28 days. And of course, you won’t be insured if you’re not taxed.

No road tax = no insurance

If your car is not taxed then it will also not be insured. So not only are you liable to be fined, but if you are involved in an accident or have your car stolen, your insurance will not be valid.

If your scrap or export your car, you need to notify the DVLA and a apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). This remains applicable as long as the car is off the road. However, you can’t put the car back on a public road (even if it’s just parked on the street) until you pay road tax again.

How are road tax transgressions enforced?

When changing the 2014 road tax rules, the DVLA decided to do away with the familiar round tax discs, which previously had to be displayed in every car’s windscreen.

So it’s no longer possible for a policeman to notice the tax disc on your car is out of date and whack you with a fine. However, in practice that very rarely happened anyway.Today, road tax checks are done electronically.

Today, road tax checks are done electronically. Police use Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to catch owners of untaxed vehicles on the road, and have been doing so long before the tax disc was taken out of circulation.

The DVLA makes vehicle database checks on vehicles every month. It can clamp your vehicle if you haven’t paid your road tax, and then force you to pay a release fee of £100 to be unclamped.

Alternatively, your car may be impounded. That means you’ll have to pay a fee of £200 to release your car – and prosecution costs and fines may also apply.

Initial chaos has now subsided, but at a cost

Predictably, turning a perfectly simple and sensible system into a far more complex one caused widespread chaos throughout the UK.

Many thousands of used car buyers were caught out by the changes, and many motor traders were confused by the changes as well.

This resulted in many used cars going untaxed for several months until owners realised (usually about the time their insurance or next road tax bill was due).

Organisations including the RAC warned that the number of untaxed cars would skyrocket under the new system. Yet the DVLA rubbished those claims, describing them as “nonsense”.

So no-one was surprised (except the DVLA, presumably), when that’s exactly what happened.

The number of unlicensed vehicles more than doubled in the year after the new rules were introduced, with more than 560,000 untaxed vehicles costing the country a claimed £80 million.

What’s more, two years later it appears that the system is still failing, with hundreds of millions of pounds lost.

Clearly, the massive increase in untaxed vehicles is unlikely to be the result of hundreds of thousands of motorists deciding to become criminals. The figures suggest that the system is at fault. Of course, getting the DVLA to accept its failure is unlikely.

There’s also the probability that at least some of the increase is down to vehicles no longer carrying tax discs in their windscreens, so owners are less likely to notice if their tax has expired.

The DVLA claimed that doing away with tax discs would save the country millions. But so far it looks like it has lost far more than it saved.

You should also read: Winners and losers of new 2017 road tax rules

This article was first published in September 2014, and has been updated in October 2016 to reflect the number of questions we continue to receive about the workings of the UK vehicle registration process.

Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editor of The Car Expert, which he founded in 2011, and our new sister site The Van Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the car industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.


  1. Out of interest how is it possible to produce a valid tax disc within 24 hours when they no longer exist?

  2. stuart

    It is no longer a legal requirement to display a tax disc on your vehicle, so there is no longer any need to produce one. All the registration information is available on the DVLA systems to police and other required services ao anyone who needs the info can access it immediately anyway.

  3. stuart

    We’ve now edited the article to remove this bit; it was a carryover from old tax disc requirements.

  4. so if you part ex your car and you pay monthly all you have to do is cancel the Direct Debt, because the garage will inform the DVLA that are the new owners, or do do you have to inform the DVLA, and if so can this be done online?

  5. stuart

    You still have to inform the DVLA. When you have over your car, you and the dealer have to sign the yellow section of your logbook and you then have to return it via post. Because the DVLA is the most inefficient organisation in the world, this can’t be done online and has to be done via snail mail. Until it’s done, the DVLA will keep charging you and sending you renewal notices.

  6. I am transfering my car to my son at the end of the month, I plan to drive it to his property on the last day of the month (Saturday) and then get him to apply for Road tax to start on the Sunday 1st March applying via Email.
    Will I get a refund as the seller which will include a full month of March or will the DVLA only refund from when they receive Registration document. To me it looks like I may be fiddled out of a months refund.
    Has anybody advice on this?



  7. stuart

    Hi Phil. It should be the date that the car is registered under its new owner’s name (ie – 1 March). Yes, this is likely to mean that you both end up paying road tax for March, and that’s because the DVLA is allowed to get away with this sort of rubbish. Don’t get me started on how useless the DVLA is…

  8. Hi. I have exactly the same problem although I’m selling my car to a friend tomorrow (1st March). In bid to not only for march myself I intended to SORN it just now. Anyhow the site I’ve just tried to do it on only gave me the option of sorn starting 1st Feb. I didn’t click that as I’ve been driving it all monthly guess. I’ll sorn it tomorrow and presume it’ll allow me to have it start 1st March? I didn’t think you could back date sorn though?

  9. stuart

    Hi Stuart. Always work on the basis that the DVLA is incredibly inefficient and self-serving, and you’ll tend to get your answer. They only measure registrations in full months, so you either cancel it from the start of this month or the next. They can’t cope with the idea that you might stop driving it on the 12th, despite every other organisation on the planet being able to bill on a daily basis…

  10. so what happens when for example. you want to buy a car from a private seller, and you live say 50 miles away. technically I take it you can’t buy and drive the car home as it will not be taxed. but you can’t tax it till you have registered as the new owner.
    So I pressume, you go along and check the car out. your happy with it and propose to buy it, but you can’t drive it home! so you have to come to some sort of arrangement with the seller, whereas he will look after the car till you have it all sorted legally. or you have to get hold of a car trailer.
    looks to me like a conspiracy to make people have to purchase from garages only.

  11. stuart

    Hi Ralph. You only have to take the V5 (logbook) to the nearest Post Office, so it’s not really a major hassle.

  12. When you buy a car (50 miles from home) the bit of the V5 that you get off the previous owner can be used to tax the car instantly using an automated phone number. It was surprisingly easy when I did it a few weeks ago. Of course this probably depends on the car being on the Motor Insurance Database, which the previous keeper probably has. If it isn’t still insured by them you will probably need to wait until your insurance company adds it. Perhaps they have sped up this process to “instant” now?

    All of these threads moaning about not being able to drive home straight away do conveniently ignore the fact that insurance is exactly the same and always has been. OK, you can probably phone your insurance company before you leave, but that’s no less heartache than sorting the tax out. Probably worse as the insurance company probably isn’t 24 hours and will need a length phone call.

    I don’t agree with the new system forcing both to pay for the same month, however, I think that the lengthly moans about it being difficult are not correct.

  13. As a follow up to my note above about selling my car to a mate on 1st March……

    I went online on 1st March and submitted a SORN declaration (having been on the previous day and being told it would start 1st Feb – which wasn't right as I'd been driving it all month.)

    This time the system said start date 1st March. So I got to wondering whether I'd be charged for March and followed this up with a phone call. The lady at DVLA confirmed though that I will now be charged for March. I said about my reservation of putting 1st Feb, she said the system isn't very good and gave me an address for Refunds @ DVLA to write to……

  14. hi Forum i’m part exchanging my Mondeo for a Vectra i will be picking it up in a weeks time, what do i need to do regarding tax for the Vectra as i am paying by direct debit at the moment for the Mondeo , so how do i cancel the Mondeo and tax the Vectra so i can drive away from fourcourt??

  15. stuart

    Hi Gabbi. Normally the dealer will take care of taxing your new car for you, so it should all be handled by the time you collect the car. As for the Mondeo, there is a section of the logbook that you need to return to the DVLA to notify them that you have sold the vehicle. The dealership will be able to show you what to do.

  16. Hi. Im given my car to my son will he have to tax the car even though there is 6 months of tax left and he lives at home with us

  17. stuart

    Hi Phil. Yes, he will have to tax the car, and you will get a refund for (probably) 5 months of tax. Yes, it is stupid, but then so is the DVLA.

  18. I bought a car on the 2nd October and we paid the dealer to put 6 months tax on it for us. However, we’ve just received a notice that we’ve been driving around with no tax for 6 months. So where did the tax go? Seems to me that the previous registered owner will have got a refund for £150 of our money as the dealer messed up. And now I’ve had to pay DVLA enforcement the back-dated tax supposedly owed – paying for the same 6 months twice. Argh! Expensive lesson learnt…

  19. stuart

    Hi Ali. I suspect that there has been a bit of this going on since the rules on tax discs changed last October. If you paid for 6 months’ road tax, it should be written on your contract for the car (vehicle order form). If it’s on there, you should be able to take the DVLA notice to the dealer and demand payment.

  20. Hi bit confused just sold a car privately and told them it’s taxed and tested is this right filled in log book sent it of to dvla what should I do?

  21. stuart

    Hi Nino. The new DVLA rules are a nightmare and are causing all sorts of problems. As usual, the DVLA has made a complete mess of everything and we are all suffering for it…

    When you sell the car, the new owner must have the V5C logbook and call the DVLA (or go to their website, or to a post office that deals with vehicle tax) to tax the vehicle before they drive away in it. You will get a refund cheque from the DVLA for any used months of road tax. The DVLA makes a sneaky profit by charging both you and the new owner for the current month’s tax, which they get away with because they are basically evil.

  22. Hi, I’ve got a right problem. I bought a used car from a dealer in March 2015. It had no V5C, which he didn’t tell me about until after i’d paid for it (I realise now that this was very stupid of me). I asked him about the new car tax rules and he told me it was still covered by the previous car tax until June 2015, so I was ok to drive it. He said he would fill out the relevent form for a new V5C and get it sent to me and that it would take about 4 weeks. After 4 weeks I contacted DVLA to see where the V5C was and they said that they’d never received a form from the dealer and that the car had to be off road as the tax should have been renewed as soon as i bought it. So i’m stuck with a car I can’t use because it has no tax, while I wait for the new V5C to come through. Do I need to Sorn the car while I’m waiting for the new V5C (it’s parked in my front garden at the moment. I own the property). Do you think I have a claim against the dealer for this? I know now that I’ve been stupid buying this car without the V5C, but I trusted the dealer to know about the new car tax laws. Any advice would be great. Thanks.

  23. stuart

    Hi Jane. It is certainly unacceptable that the dealer was massively wrong a full 5 months after the laws changed, which suggests that every car they have sold since last October has been driving illegally. There has been a lot of this going on, and it’s a combination of the DVLA’s shambolic introduction of the new road tax rules, their inability to cope with 21st century online systems, and dealers not paying attention to any information that does get out from the DVLA from time to time.

    Firstly, you clearly can’t drive the car (or even park it on a street), as you are neither taxed nor insured and you could be clamped/towed. Secondly, you need to chase the dealer and get the V5C in your possession ASAP. If they have lost it or make some excuse, you will need to get the DVLA to issue a new V5, which I think cost £25. They will send this to the owner according to their records, which is probably the last person before the dealer. You probably have no idea who this person is, but the dealer should know. Once you have the V5, you can tax the car and transfer it into your name. If the dealer doesn’t have a record of the previous owner (they may not have photocopied the V5 before they lost it…), they will need to make a statutory declaration to the DVLA. This will not be a rapid process, because the DVLA is about as fast as a tortoise in slow motion.

    You are going to need to hound the dealer to get a result, as they are probably not going to care about paperwork from a car sold a month ago. Yes, you have a valid claim against the dealer but you are probably going to have to do a lot of chasing around to get it sorted before you can drive your car again. Start practising your best irate phone voice…

  24. I have a similar problem where I have purchased a used car from a dealer which has had a no. Plate transfer. When I collected the car I was told the car was taxed. Twice I asked are you sure the car is taxed and they have said yes. I drove off the forecourt thinking the car was taxed. Two weeks later my husband check the government website to check that the car was taxed. Guess what, it wasn’t. I had no idea about the new tax laws. What recourse do I have against the dealer as I am now waiting on the DVLA to transfer the vehicle to trade before they can tax it for me.

  25. stuart

    As with the other people above, sloppiness of dealers and the sheer uselessness of the DVLA leaves you in a hole. You can chase a dealer for compensation or a loan car while it’s sorted out, but your chances are slim to none. And the DVLA refuses to accept the blame for any of their incompetencies, so you have no real recourse against them.

  26. I have just sold my car last night and pay monthly for my tax, So all i have to do is send away the log book as normal and because it is sold just before the end of the month the dvl a will cancel my direct debit without me having to do anything else, but if they are slow and a payment comes out my bank for next month this will be refunded automatically when its updated, is this correct?

  27. Stuart Masson

    Hi Craig. You only tear off and send away the yellow section to the DVLA – once you and the new owner both sign the logbook , he/she needs to take it to the nearest post office to get the car taxed.

    The DVLA should stop taking money from your direct debit, but if it was me I would cancel it myself anyway.

  28. I purchased not long ago bought a car and road tax, and until yesterday was ok, but I checked on the side of the road tax DVLA and my car is untaxed. So I bought yesterday once more and continue to page DVLA show the car is untaxed ???? stupid system does not know what's going on Any advice would be great. Thanks.

  29. I think it takes a few days for the system to update, I taxed my car yesterday (1st) but it's still showing as (sorn) on the system this morning. As long as you keep the email if taxed online then if you do get stopped you have proof of the vehicle being taxed.

  30. My son part exchanged his peugeot 307 and purchased a bmw from a dealer. he taxed the bmw straight away at post office, he was told by dealer not to tax it online as the previous owner would then get a refund of what my son had paid to tax it (£112.75). The dealer told my son he would get a refund of car tax remaining on the peugeot automatically by cheque from DVLA when they receive
    the paperwork from dealer (signed log book details). i just wanted to make sure this is done automatically, or does my son have to inform DVLA himself to get this refund from peugeot part exchanged?

  31. Stuart Masson

    Hi Margaret. It shouldn't matter how your son chooses to tax his BMW; the post office, phone or online should all be fine. The system is supposed to be able to cope with someone buying a car and not being in the vicinity of a post office – but given the DVLA's general incompetence, it wouldn't surprise me if they screw it up.

    Your son should get a refund from the DVLA for any unused months of road tax paid on his Peugeot, and the BMW's former owner will get a refund for any unused months of road tax that he/she had paid. Your son has to return the yellow section of his logbook to the DVLA, which is the declaration that he has sold the car. Without doing this, he will continue to be invoiced for road tax and potentially be sent any speeding/parking fines that the new owner incurs.

  32. thankyou for your information. my son signed the yellow part of log book and the dealer asked my son if he wanted to send it to DVLA himself, or if he wanted the dealer to send it along with other documents (and a collection of other peoples signed documents all in one envelope) which the dealer had all ready to be sent off, so my son left it to the dealer to send off.

  33. Stuart Masson

    Technically your son is required to do it himself. Some dealers will offer to send it as a courtesy (especially since they are usually posting stuff to the DVLA every day), but they are not supposed to. As long as they do send it off and don't lose it along the way, it should be fine.
    It can take the DVLA a few weeks to manually process it (gotta keep all those people in Swansea employed somehow), and he should then get a confirmation note from the DVLA to say that they have removed him as the keeper of the vehicle. Naturally, this will come at a different time and in a different mailing from his new logbook for the BMW (gotta keep Royal Mail in business as well).

  34. I am selling my car this weekend sat 9th may, however wish to retain my private plate. Ive done this in the past by popping into the local dvla office with the buyer but its now closed down. My question are can I sell and retain the plate, will the car be re registered on the previous plate prior to me adding the private one and finally with the new tax rules what plate should the new buyer use to tax the car? Thanks

  35. Stuart Masson

    Hi Steve. Since the DVLA closed their regional offices, all plate transfer & retention documents need to be done via post (not email or online, because the DVLA is stuck in 1974) to Swansea. The process takes 2-6 weeks, depending on the level of bureaucratic nonsense going on at the time, and you will eventually get a new logbook with the cars original number plate (unless it was first registered with the private plate, in which case they will allocate a new number). In a separate mailing – of course – you will get your retention certificate confirming that the plate has been removed from the car and can be applied to another car.

    So if you are selling your car this Saturday, you probably needed to submit the paperwork about a month ago.

  36. Your best way round avoiding double Tax in that situation, is to arrange the transfer right at the end of the month. You SORN the car on the 30/31st of the month ( obviously do not use it for that 24hrs), you will get a full refund for the unused 6 months, then your son taxes it on the 1st of the next month so he is not paying an extra months tax for that month he did not have the car.
    You have the pleasure of ensuring the DVLA do not get double tax for a month on the same car !!!

  37. I sold my car at the end of April, I sent the V5 to the DVLA but have not heard anything back regarding a tax refund to date. Have I done something wrong or this lag period just the norm?

  38. Stuart Masson

    Hi Harry. No, it's the norm. The DVLA is maddeningly slow at anything (except taking your money, of course).

  39. Hi There

    I sold my car at the weekend and used to pay by DD every month under the new tax payment scheme. Do I now Just cancel the Direct Debit so no more payments are made as it's the new driver's responsibilty?

    Thanks Clare :)

  40. Stuart Masson

    Hi Clare. Did you fill in and return the yellow section of the V5 logbook? You need to send that off to the DVLA. Yes, you can go ahead and cancel your direct debit, as you won't need to pay anything further.

  41. Hi there I have just purchased a nearly new car and put mine in part ex, the dealer has sent the form for registered keeper off to DVLA as it's a disabled car so tax will be refunded back to Disability. I didn't sign anything should I have? Do I need to inform DVLA of the change myself of will the form sent by dealer suffice?

  42. Stuart Masson

    You should have had to sign the yellow section of the V5 (logbook) when you part-exchanged the car. You can always call the DVLA (if you have a couple of hours to spare) to chase it with them.

  43. Hi, just bought a car and wondered if the previous owner has already paid the tax what would happen if I start paying from the beginning of the next month? The car is taxed for this month anyway and he can't claim it back.

  44. Stuart Masson

    Hi Steven. When the previous owner notifies the DVLA that he/she has sold the car, the tax is cancelled. You need to pay tax before you start driving the car. You both end up paying tax for this month, because the DVLA are a bunch of thieves…

  45. Hi. I have purchased a new car and I'm going to tax it before collection. I still have 6 months tax on my old car. If I sorn it off road will I get a refund or do you only get a refund if you sell it? Trouble is it may take ages to sell which means I lose out on the tax surely?

  46. Hi…I have sold my car and taking it tomorrow to its new owner. Obviously it will take a few days to get the details to dvla which will take us into a new month. I was hoping not to have to pay for July but looks like I bet I will have to pay. Currently I pay monthly via direct debit. I'm wondering if I cancel the direct debit after I have taken it to the new owner, will that be ok, so I don't have to pay for July then when they recive the info from the new owner they'll see why I cancelled it? Hope that all makes sense?!

  47. Stuart Masson

    As far as I know, the DVLA cancels the registration once they receive the signed notification form from the vehicle logbook (V5C), which won't reach them until early July. Therefore, I would expect that both you and the new owner will be paying road tax for July. If the DVLA's systems were up-to-date, it would be simple. But the DVLA is stuck in the 1970s, and therefore so are you.

  48. hi, i have just sold my car but didn't fill out the V5 log book, (i didn't realise had to, silly i know) how do i cancel my monthly direct debit tax, or when the new owner (who i know) fills it in saying she is the new owner do they cancel my tax for me and i get refunded? Many Thanks

  49. Hi, Quick question. My father is the owner of the car and has road tax on direct debit, I am now the registered keeper and main driver at a different address.

    Who needs to pay the road tax under the new system, can I leave the road tax direct debit running from my fathers account?


  50. Stuart Masson

    Hi Gregg. If you are the registered keeper, then you need to pay the road tax. Theoretically, the direct debit will stop once the car's registration is transferred to you, so you will need to make sure that the car is actually taxed.

  51. Hello, I am picking up car from a private sale this week, I currently pay DD for tax, do I just cancel DD at bank and set up a new one as I cant get hold of adviser to speak to.
    Many Thanks

  52. Stuart Masson

    Hi Michele. Before you drive off in your new car, you will need to call the DVLA (even if it involves waiting for half an hour for them to get around to answering you) or go to a Post Office to tax the car, or you can do it online (although they seem to make this difficult to find, probably because the DVLA hates making your life easy). Once the DVLA receives notification that you have sold your old car, they will cancel the direct debit – or you can cancel it. Don't cancel it until you are confirmed as no longer being the owner of the vehicle. If you are owed a refund, the DVLA will eventually get around to sending it to you with 4-6 weeks, maybe.

  53. Hello, I'm due to pick up my new car in the next few days and have given my private plate retention document to the dealer to send to DVLA to transfer to the new car. I know I have to wait some weeks to receive the new log book from DVLA but can I put on the plates while I'm waiting?

  54. Stuart Masson

    Hi Andrew. No, you can't. The process is yet another convoluted DVLA mess, unfortunately. Your new car will be allocated a normal registration number (eg XX15 XXX). The dealer can make up some plates for you with your private plate number on them, and drill the holes to fit your new car as necessary, but they can't go on your car yet. Once you receive both the V5 for your new car and your number plate retention certificate from the DVLA, you then need to send it all back to them to have your plate applied to your new car. They will send you back another V5 logbook with your number plate attached to the car.

    It's slow, wasteful and horrendously inefficient, but that's the DVLA in a nutshell.

  55. Hi mate just transfered the wife's hyundai i30 to my son and sent off the vc5 and before receiving form back the reminder of tax came through and so my wife has paid it at post office .now ì am worried she may receive money returned and no tax on car.note my son lives at the same address as us . Will it all go pear shaped

  56. Stuart Masson

    Hi Paul. Your son should have taxed the car in his name as soon as the V5C was signed over to him (address is irrelevant). If he hasn't done this, he needs to do it pronto as the car will not be taxed. Your wife will get a refund for any unused months.

  57. Hi there,

    I've recently bought a new vehicle and my previous vehicle is taxed on monthly bases through direct debit. How do i stop paying the road tax for my previous car? Can i simply cancel direct debit? I still have my previous car and i've taken it off the road.


  58. Stuart Masson

    Hi Asim. You need to declare to the DVLA that your old car is no longer being used with a SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notice) – form available from their website or at a post office. Once you have received confirmation back from the DVLA, you can cancel your direct debit and any registration money owed to you should be refunded.

  59. Hi Stuart,
    i just bought a car for my partner she got her log book on her name now but to get the tax for her car we did it through our joint bank account in my name before sending new logbook to dvla. i am second driver on car. Online it shows taxed, will it stay valid with DVLA for tax period ? or i have to ask my partner to transfer on her name.

  60. Stuart Masson

    Hi Ryan. The DVLA is unlikely to care whose name the car is registered in, as long as the tax is paid. If the car is under finance then the finance company is much more likely to insist that the registered keeper is the person who financed the vehicle. Have a read of our article about accommodation deals for more information.

  61. hi i am buying a car that was SORN 6 years ago but when i have checked on website it only says that the car is untaxed! will i have a problem when i try to tax it ?

  62. Stuart Masson

    Hi Lindsey. It will need an MOT certificate so you can tax it, but otherwise as long as the paperwork is all in order, it should be fine. The bigger issue is whether the car has any mechanical issues if it has not been driven for six years.

  63. I've just bought a car from a garage, taxed it and had to return the car because of a fault, how do I get my car tax back

  64. Stuart Masson

    Hi Ian. You will get most of your tax back from the DVLA (every unused month, so you will still have to pay for this month). You will need to claim recompense from the garage for the value of this month's road tax.

  65. Hi I sold my car last week but forgot to cancel the tax and i cannot find my part of the V5. would my tax automatically cancel when the new person registers or do i need to contact the dvla?

  66. Stuart Masson

    Hi Martin. As far as I understand, it should be automatically cancelled once the new keeper registers the car. However, if this doesn't happen immediately (which is quite likely if you part-exchanged it at a dealership), then the car may not be re-registered for several weeks or even months and you could still be paying tax. You should probably contact the DVLA for their advice: http://www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax

  67. Many thanks for a quick informative reply Stuart :-)

  68. Hi Stuart, my son has a SORN vehicle that I have just insured myself to drive, when I went online to tax the vehicle I'm not the registered keeper, can he tax the vehicle even though he won't be driving the car?

  69. Stuart Masson

    Hi Kath. Yes, he should be able to tax the car as the registered keeper, even if he is not going to drive it. This often happens when someone loses their licence, for example.

  70. hi stuart,
    apologies if this has been covered, too late on a sunday night to read all comments I'm afraid!
    We have just brought a new car and part exchanged our old one which we were paying our tax by monthly direct debit.
    A new month has passed and we have been charged this month for the old car. What should i do??
    Thanks in advance

  71. Stuart Masson

    Hi Jason. You should get a refund from the DVLA eventually. In the meantime, cancel your direct debit.

  72. Hi Stuart,
    I am hoping you would be able to shed some light on my situation. On 30/05/2015 I traded my car at a garage. Sold the old, drove off with the new. Garage took care of sorting out all the paperwork and car tax, straight away, there and then on their computer. I was immediately registered for new car tax on new car. Direct Debit for car tax on old vehicle however still came out at the beginning of June and also July. I expected them to cancel it once they acknowledge the sale, and didn't want to cancel it too early myself to avoid some sort of a possible penalty or whatever you do (you are often warned by banks at Direct Debit cancellation that other party must be informed etc).
    After July Direct Debit still came out and I saw a notice of August DD payment still lining up in my account, I decided to put an end to it, and cancelled the DD. Hoping nothing bad would happen. Then I waited and waited and waited. Nothing happened. No refund. Nothing. Two days ago I therefore emailed DVLA through their website asking about 'still no tax refund after 6 weeks'. They instantly replied claiming that 'we are unable to refund the payments taken in June and July as an automatic refund would only be issued if the notification had been received before the payments had been taken, or within 5 working days of the sale.' However, they claim that 'Upon checking the record, I can confirm that the notification of your disposal of the vehicle was only received at DVLA on 06/07/2015.' Hence no tax refund for me. Isn't this wrong? Or illegal? Aren't they conning ordinary people out of money? Isn't it irrelevant 'when' they 'receive' or probably more likely 'process' the notification, but rather the date of disposal marked on the notification of disposal? Surely the garage would have filled the date on the form? The DVLA officer ended the email saying sorry to disappoint me and that there was nothing they could advise me but there was simply not going to be a automatic refund to me. So I asked for a manual one. I get a very bad feeling I am one of thousands if not millions of UK citizens this is happening to. Doesn't the garage pay some sort of car tax for vehicles they purchase? Which would that mean that DVLA is just playing a trick and cashing in money from two parties for same vehicles, conning great many people out of cash that rightfully belong to them? Shouldn't this practice be featured and exposed on Watchdog? Can you give me any advice? I would very much appreciate your opinion on this. Thanks, Dan

  73. Stuart Masson

    Hi Dan. Never underestimate the laziness and incompetence of the DVLA to do anything properly, so good luck trying to get them to acknowledge that their systems are rubbish. They don't listen to everyone else that tells them that, so they are unlikely to pay attention to your valid points. You are unlikely to ever see a refund for June or July.

    It is, however, your responsibility to notify the DVLA when you dispose of the vehicle. The garage might offer to take care of it for you, but it is quite possible they never got around to sending the form back to the DVLA until July. If you had done it yourself, you would have known exactly when you sent it. The registration is officially cancelled once the DVLA receives the cancellation, regardless of what the date on the form says.

    Finally, no the garage does not pay road tax on the car while it is in their possession. If they need to drive the car anywhere, they use trade plates.

  74. Hi,

    If I purchased a used car from a main dealer on 31st January, call me thick but if it was taxed on 31st January would it then expire end of December the following year or would it be a full 12 months until the end of January the following year?

  75. Stuart Masson

    Hi Louise. Because the DVLA is stuck in the 1970s (and/or corrupt, take your pick), you tax a car for an entire month, regardless of which day of the month you register the car in your name. So if you tax the car on 31 January, you have to pay tax for all of January. This means that your tax will expire at the end of December.

    It’s fundamentally wrong, but the DVLA seems to be able to get away with this bulls***.

  76. Hi Stuart.

    I am selling my car and it will be driven by my partner to the buyers new address tomorrow. I think that it will be kept off road until everything sorted? I am paying the road tax by direct debit. When should I stop this; I notice this can be done on line. I also need to cancel the insurance. The new owner will be registered through return of the V5C to DVLA. Do I send this off after they have signed. I believe they have to keep section VC5/2. If I cancel my tax and insurance after tomorrow, can they tax and insure the car straight way before receiving official notification of ownership from the DVLA? Confused….just need a little clarification please.

  77. Stuart Masson

    Hi Linda. There is a yellow section of the logbook that you need to tear out and send back to the DVLA when you hand the logbook over to the new owner. This is your declaration that you have sold the car.

    The new owner has to call the DVLA or go to a post office to tax the car immediately, and they will tear out and keep a green section of the logbook as a temporary record until their new logbook arrives. As soon as they have done this, the car is taxed again and they can drive it legally, with their new logbook arriving in a couple of weeks.

    You can cancel your direct debit and insurance once you have handed the car over.

  78. Please can you clarify a point on all this… At what specific point in time does a car change ownership, as far as the DVLA are concerned?

    If I buy a car from a dealer, and drive it home, then surely as far as the DVLA are concerned it still belongs to the dealer until they receive the V5C. They have nothing to tell them otherwise. So if by any chance the car was checked by a number plate camera, or stopped by police, it would show as taxed anyway… or am I missing something?

  79. Stuart Masson

    Hi Aidan. The car has to be taxed in your name before you can drive it anywhere, either over the phone or by going to a post office. The V5C has a temporary new owner’s section which you keep while the rest of the logbook is sent off to the DVLA.

    The DVLA will process the information once the logbook arrives in Swansea and backdate it to the point where they were notified of the change of ownership.

  80. This is what I don’t understand – a car doesn’t have to be taxed in your name for you to drive it under normal circumstances. Given that the V5C won’t even be in the post by the time you set off, in what sense does the car not belong to the previous tax payer, as far as the DVLA are concerned?

  81. Hi Stuart,
    I bought a car privately on the weekend. It’s still showing as taxed on the dvla website. But I understand now that I drove it home without tax because the tax isn’t in my name.
    The car is off the road and unlikely to be used this week. I was going to wait until Monday 1st to tax it to avoid paying for January. But trying to declare it as SORN is failing because they’ve not received the V5 yet.
    Surely there’s a grace period?
    Do I need to keep chasing for a SORN or give up?

  82. hi, my daughter bought a car on monday the 25th, i drove the car home on my insurance as the previous owner was still taxed and insured, i left my daughter and went home, she said she was going to insure it that day so i said i would tax it, i taxed it and it went through so i pressumed my daughter had insured it. i saw her the next day and she told me she hadnt yet insured it, so my question is when the other driver cancels his tax will mine be cancelled as well and will he get my refund

  83. Stuart Masson

    Hi Si. Your best bet is to simply register it. When you work out how much you’re saving for that one month, it’s just not worth it. Also, your insurance is not valid if the car is not taxed or SORNed, so you are probably currently uninsured.

  84. Stuart Masson

    Hi Raymond. As soon as the car changes hands, the tax is cancelled. So the car was driven home with no road tax.

    Road tax and insurance are no longer linked on the DVLA system. In the past, you had to have proof of insurance to get road tax, now it is your responsibility to make sure the car is insured and the DVLA will not ask for proof when you tax the car.

    The previous owner will get a refund for any unpaid months of road tax (ie – if he paid for a year’s tax rather than a monthly direct debit). As I understand it, the car is now taxed in your name, not your daughter’s, but is uninsured.

  85. Hi Stuart ,
    Apologies if this has already been answered ,
    I have just sold my car , so when I send the log book off will the car tax be instantly cancelled of have I to contact the dvla? Thankyou Kevin

  86. Stuart Masson

    Hi Kevin. As soon as you sign over the car to its buyer, the road tax is officially cancelled and the buyer has to arrange their own tax. Once the DVLA receives your logbook, you should receive a refund for any unused months of road tax.

  87. Hi Stuart, We live in the Republic of Ireland and are looking to buy a car on 31st March 2016 from the UK that has no road tax since February. We will be driving on UK roads for approximately 4 hours before getting on a ferry. What would you advise that we do? Obviously we are not able to go to the nearest post office as we are not UK residents. Many thanks for your help.

  88. Stuart Masson

    Hi James. I’m not sure how the DVLA handles this now, and the information on their site is not very clear. You’ll need to give them a call – 0300 123 0883 – although they are closed today as it’s Easter Monday.

  89. Hi, i sold my car privatly 30/jan sat night, went dvla online to fill ownership transfer form, but they open mon – sat till 6pm!!! Ok, so monday morning filled all details that car was sold on 30/jan, had acknowledgment letter printed 1/2/2016. comes in post. But Dvla still take payment for february
    ( been paying DD) i thought short notice and will be refund as they state with in 4-6 weeks but cancelled DD just in case.
    No, i was naive – no refund. So i called them and been told that refund will not be issued only cose i told that vehicle sold on 1/2/2016. i pointed that dvla online shop :) closes down at 6pm and dont work on sundays, so i was not able to do that. but adviser told me nothing he can do there.

    So new owner bought tax from 1/1/2016 to drive home taxed, and i still paid for january/february even car was gone in january? why i paying tax when i have no car?please advise wich date should be taken to account ? Before change, when v5 has to be sended in post, they used go by sold date, not letter received date?

  90. Stuart Masson

    Hi Mario. Welcome to the dodgy world of the DVLA. There is no way a private organisation would be allowed to get away with their behaviour.

  91. I bought a used car from a dealer on saturday and paid in full. They will mot/service it and said i can pick it up on friday. I pay my tax via monthly direct debt, the dealer wanted the full amount upfront, but i said i would prefer mothly, so they said i had to sort it myself. They have told me to pick the car up on friday but bring proof i have taxed it otherwise i can not drive it away. They have not given me any documentation,apart from a 5 days insurance cover form, so how to i go about doing it?

  92. Stuart Masson

    Hi Andy. You will need the V5 from the dealer when you go to collect the car on Friday. You can call the DVLA and set it up over the phone on the spot before you drive away.

  93. If i contact the dealer before friday and get the details of the V5 could i do it before hand. They were adamant that i do it before hand and bring proof with me, although as you say i don’t know how they expect me to do that.

  94. Stuart Masson

    That’s basically for their own admin purposes, and is not really your problem. As long as the car is taxed before you drive away from the dealership, you’re legal. And I’m not sure why they should care anyway, given that you are paying for the road tax yourself.

  95. so i bought a car from a dealer and taxed it but the car broke down twice in a week and the dealer refunded my money. the tax payment of 30 odd pounds came out of my bank but cant find a way of untaxing it obviously i do no have the logbook they had that back i have now got a new car that i have taxed i have canceled the direct debit but still feel greaved that i paid money for that car i feel robbed

  96. Stuart Masson

    Hi Steve. You won’t be able to get money back from the road tax from the dealership. Once you have the car back to the dealer and the yellow section of the form is sent off to the DVLA (you are supposed to do that, not the dealer), then the DVLA should refund you for any unused months. This can take a while, so don’t hold your breath.

  97. Can my husband pay for car tax if I am a register keeper?

  98. Stuart Masson

    Hi Kate. If you are asking if he can pay your road tax on your behalf, that should be fine. The DVLA is unlikely to be worried as long as the bill is paid.

  99. Hi I sold my car Wednesday to a dealer, road tax was due today(friday) posted yellow slip yesterday so likely to arrive at DVLA after tax due. Will I be fined as paperwork unlikely to have landed with them yet?

  100. Stuart Masson

    Hi Patrick. If you signed the car over to the dealer on Wednesday, you should be fine.

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