Car running costs Buying car tax online

How to pay your car tax online

From October 2014 the car tax system will be changing, with paper tax discs being replaced by a fully electronic system. Motorists will be able to pay for their car tax by direct debit for the first time, for an extra 5% charge. 

However, the premium for buying six months vehicle excise duty (VED) will be reduced from 10% to 5%. Motorists who are not online will still be able to tax their car in person at a Post Office or over the phone.

Before you pay the duty don't forget to look up which tax band your car falls under. With low emission cars paying the lowest rate, now be the time to check out our reviews of new and used cars to get a more efficient model.

Paying your car tax essentials

When it comes to buying and renewing your car tax, there are two main options. You can stand in line at the Post Office with your MOT certificate and insurance documents in hand, or you can take the easy route and buy your car tax online.

The DVLA has set up a special car tax website that lets you to apply for a new tax disc – or declare your car off the road with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

To get started, you’ll need your numberplate and either the 16-digit reference number shown on your car tax renewal reminder (which you should have received in the post) or the 11-digit reference number on your car’s V5c registration document/logbook.

Find out CO2 emissions figures for every car - sign up to Which? for £1 to get full access to car reviews

Visit the DVLA's car tax website

Visit the DVLA's car tax website

Once you’re ready, follow these simple steps to buy car tax online.

Using the DVLA’s car tax website

Firstly, click the link to redirect to the DVLA car tax website.

Here, you'll find information on how to declare your vehicle off the road, plus answers to some common car tax questions.

As soon as you're ready to buy your car tax, click the blue road sign that reads 'Apply for a tax disc NOW!'

Answer the car tax questions

Answer yes to all five car tax questions

Answer yes to all five car tax questions

This page asks you to answer 'yes' or 'no' to a series of car tax-related questions, such as whether you are the registered keeper of the vehicle, whether you have car insurance, and whether your car has a valid MOT test certificate.

You’ll need to answer yes to all five car tax questions before you can buy or renew your car tax online.

When you’ve done so, click 'Next'.

Enter your car tax details

You should have received a reminder from the DVLA around three weeks before your car tax was due to expire.

Enter your car tax details

Enter your car tax details

Type the reference number from the reminder into box near the top of the screen.

If you don't have a reminder, type your car's numberplate and document reference number (which you can find in the logbook) into the boxes below.

Click next to continue.

Add your car’s mileage

Your car’s make and registration number should appear onscreen. Check that they're correct, and then click next.

If the wrong details appear, go back a step and retype your reference number.

Choose a six- or 12-month tax disc

Choose a six- or 12-month tax disc

Should you wish to do so, you can enter you vehicle's mileage on the next screen to help prevent mileage fraud.

Click 'Next' to continue.

Choose a car tax disc

The website now checks the DVLA’s database to confirm that your vehicle's insurance and (if applicable) MOT details are up to date.

Once this is confirmed, click the button beside the type of tax disc you would like to buy (either six months or 12 months).

Click 'Next' to proceed to the payment page.

Enter payment details for your car tax

You’ll now be asked to pay for your new car tax disc. Enter your credit or debit card details and your email address, and then click next. Note that credit card payments are subject to an additional charge of £2.50. However, George Osborne announced in his 2012 budget that: 'the Government aims to develop a direct debit system to allow motorists to spread their VED payments'. 

Check and print details of your new car tax disc

Print details of your car tax payment

Print details of your car tax payment

Check the details of your transaction and click pay now. You can now print a copy of this confirmation – or just note down the reference number – for your records.

Once you have completed the step-by-step process above, you should receive your new car tax disc within five working days.

Letters confirming receipt of SORN declarations can take up to four weeks to arrive.

Tax for newly-bought cars

If you have recently bought a used car and you have not received your full registration certificate (logbook) from the DVLA, you should not use the online car tax service. If you do, your new tax disc may be sent to the previous owner of the vehicle.

Our guide to selling a car has more information on dealing with car registration documents.

More on this...

Other sections in this guide

  1. Overview
  2. Car tax bands from April 2014
  3. Showroom tax rates for new cars
  4. Company car tax bands
  5. Buying car tax online

Trial Which? today

Latest Which? Car magazine cover

Try Which? magazine for just £1 and gain instant access to which.co.uk

About Which? magazine

Which? Car podcast

Listen to our latest FREE 10-minute digest of all the most important car news and reviews.

Listen to a podcast now

Which? car news

Sign up for the latest car news and reviews, and money-saving hot car deals, in your newsletter every Friday.

Sign up to Which? Car news