Car tax, also known as road tax or Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), is a tax that drivers pay each year. It is one of the essential yearly expenses of owning and driving a vehicle, along with car insurance and an MOT. This vehicle tax is paid into the government consolidated fund (general tax pot). A portion of the consolidated fund is given to the Department for Transport to distribute to local councils for road maintenance.

The current vehicle tax system is set up to penalise heavy polluting vehicles. Conversely, vehicles with low CO2 emissions benefit from reduced rates. Also, the vehicle tax detection system has changed in recent years. Gone are the days of displaying a tax disc on your windscreen. Instead, the Automatic number-plate recognition system used by the police, and road cameras, scan your car's registration number for tax information.

The technology that allowed the ANPRS to emerge ran in line with new payment methods. Automation means that you can pay your vehicle tax online with minimal effort. This article will explain how you can pay vehicle tax online along with other payment methods.

There is an online government service set up to allow you to pay road tax online. Before using the service, you will need a reference number related to your car. This can be found on a V11 reminder letter from the DVLA. Or, it could be from a vehicle log book (V5C) that is in your name. Lastly, if you have just bought the vehicle, you could find it on the green ‘new keeper’ slip from a logbook. If cannot find documents with a reference number, you will have to apply for a new V5C.

To pay your vehicle tax this way, you can use a credit card, a debit card, or set up a Direct Debit.

How else can I pay vehicle tax?

You can also use the Post Office to pay your road tax. Specifically, you should use a branch that has vehicle tax services. You can use the online Post Office branch finder service to find relevant branches.

You can use your bank details or building society account details to set up a Direct Debit at the Post Office. Or you can pay your car tax off there and then at your local Post Office branch. You will also need to take either your V5C in your name or a green ‘new keeper’ slip if the vehicle is a recent purchase. You may also need to bring an MOT test certificate.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you will need paper copies of your insurance certificate or cover note. Also, it must be noted that you cannot set up a Direct Debit over the phone.

How much tax do I pay for my vehicle?

How much road tax you pay is decided by engine size, fuel type, and C02 emissions. It is also decided by what registration date category your vehicle falls into.

Car tax rates for vehicles registered before 1 March 2001 (Cars and light goods vehicles)

Engine size (cc)Single 12-month payment12 monthly instalmentsSingle 6-month paymentSingle 6-month payment by DD
Not over 1549£180£189£99£94.50
Over 1549£295£309.75£162.25£154.88

Car tax rates for cars registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017

Petrol car (TC48) and diesel car (TC49)

Band and CO2 emissionSingle 12-month paymentTotal of 12 monthly instalmentsSingle 6-month payment
A: Up to 100g/km£0N/AN/A
B: 101 to 110g/km£20£21N/A
C: 111 to 120g/km£30£31.50N/A
D: 121 to 130g/km£135£141.75£74.25
E: 131 to 140g/km£165£173.25£90.75
F: 141 to 150g/km£180£189£99
G: 151 to 165g/km£220£231£121
H: 166 to 175g/km£265£278.25£145.75
I: 176 to 185g/km£290£304.50£159.50
J: 186 to 200g/km£330£346.50£181.50
K*: 201 to 225g/km£360£378£198
L: 226 to 255g/km£615£645.75£338.25
M: Over 255g/km£630£661.50£346.50

Alternative fuel car (TC59)

Band and CO2 emissionSingle 12-month paymentSingle 12-month payment by DDTotal of 12 monthly instalments by DDSingle 6-month paymentSingle 6-month payment by DD
A: Up to 100g/km£0N/AN/AN/AN/A
B: 101 to 110g/km£10£10£10.50N/AN/A
C: 111 to 120g/km£20£20£21N/AN/A
D: 121 to 130g/km£125£125£131.25£68.75£65.63
E: 131 to 140g/km£155£155£162.75£85.25£81.38
F: 141 to 150g/km£170£170£178.50£93.50£89.25
G: 151 to 165g/km£210£210£220.50£115.50£110.25
H: 166 to 175g/km£255£255£267.75£140.25£133.88
I: 176 to 185g/km£280£280£294£154£147
J: 186 to 200g/km£320£320£336£176£168
K*: 201 to 225g/km£350£350£367.50£192.50£183.75
L: 226 to 255g/km£605£605£635.25£332.75£317.63
M: Over 255g/km£620£620£651£341£325.50

Car tax rates for cars registered on or after 1 April 2017

CO2 emissionsDiesel cars (TC49) that meet the RDE2 standard and petrol cars (TC48)All other diesel cars (TC49)Alternative fuel cars (TC59)
1 to 50g/km£10£25£0
51 to 75g/km£25£120£15
76 to 90g/km£120£150£110
91 to 100g/km£150£170£140
101 to 110g/km£170£190£160
111 to 130g/km£190£230£180
131 to 150g/km£230£585£220
151 to 170g/km£585£945£575
171 to 190g/km£945£1,420£935
191 to 225g/km£1,420£2,015£1,410
226 to 255g/km£2,015£2,365£2,005
Over 255g/km£2,365£2,365£2,355

This payment covers your vehicle for 12 months.

Second car tax payment rates

Fuel typeSingle 12-month paymentSingle 12-month payment by DDTotal of 12 monthly payments by DDSingle 6-month paymentSingle 6-month payment by DD
Petrol or diesel£165£165£173.25£90.75£86.63

It should also be noted that vehicles and motorhomes with a list price of over £40,000 pay a car tax surcharge. This is an extra £355 annually. This vehicle tax starts from the point of the second time the vehicle is taxed and continues for five years. Vehicles with zero emissions, such as electric cars, are tax exempt from this surcharge. There are also different tax charges for certain types of vehicles, such as company cars.

Unfortunately for some, unless you have vehicle exempt status, you will need to pay tax to drive in the UK legally. However, you no longer need to buy paper tax discs to tax your car. Instead, there are more modern ways to both tax a car and discover car tax avoidance.

You can pay car tax online using the DVLA website. You will need a reference number before you can pay tax on your vehicle. It can be found on certain documents. Such as:

  • V11 reminder
  • V5C
  • Green slip

You can set up a Direct Debit or use a debit or a credit card to tax your vehicle this way. However, you can still use the post office to tax your vehicle. You can visit your local branch and set up a Direct Debit or pay to tax your car in person. It is a legal requirement to tax a car before driving it on a public road. An untaxed vehicle is extremely unlikely to avoid detection as the Automatic number-plate recognition system will scan vehicle registration numbers across various locations in the UK. This includes road cameras and police vehicles.

How much tax you pay depends on your vehicle's tax class. This is decided by a number of factors, including:

  • How much C02 the car produces
  • Date vehicle registered
  • Vehicle fuel type
  • Engine size
  • Vehicle type