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Car tax explained

We show how much car tax you'll need to pay on petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric cars as of April 2022, whether you still need to pay during the coronavirus pandemic, and which cars are exempt from vehicle tax.
Adrian Porter
Car tax

Car tax rates rose again in April 2022, with owners of hybrids, diesels and petrol cars all paying more. 

Electric cars remain exempt from car tax and are not subject to the £40,000 rule, which sees owners of expensive cars pay an extra £355 a year.

Below we lay out everything you need to know about the different vehicle tax rates and rules, and what you'll be paying.

Looking to buy a car? Head straight to our new and used car reviews.

How do the current car tax rules work?

These rules apply to all cars that were first registered after 1 April 2017. 

  • The first-year rate is based on CO2 emissions, broken down into a number of bands.
  • For all cars registered from 1 April 2020, the first-year rate is likely to be higher than previous years, as official CO2 measurements have risen due to changes in official tests.
  • The standard rate kicks in after the first year. From April 2022, you'll pay £165 for petrol and diesel cars, and £155 for hybrids and alternative fuel cars.
  • Zero-emission cars (such as electric vehicles) are exempt from car tax.
  • If your car cost more than £40,000 when bought new, you have to pay an extra £355 (April 2022 rate, see below) per year for five years, on top of the standard rate.
  • Zero-emission cars are now also exempt from the £40,000 rule as of 1 April 2020. This includes existing owners.
  • New rules are not being backdated to older cars; they will continue along the previous tax system.

Below we explain the post-2017 rules in more detail, or you can skip straight to the table of car tax rates.

Wondering if you should buy an electric car? The worst we've seen are impractical and unreliable, but the best have a decent range and are enjoyable to drive. Find out which electric cars we recommend by checking our round-up of the best electric cars.

How do I check my car's first registration date?

The rate of car tax you'll pay is based on the date the car was first registered, which is why this is important.

The first registration date does not alter with subsequent owners. For instance, a car bought new and registered on 1 July 2016, and then sold to someone else on 1 August 2017, will always have a first registration date of 1 July 2016.

You can find the first registration date in your car's V5C document (your proof of ownership document). But to save you digging that out, the easiest way to check is to go to the DVLA's 'get vehicle information' service and enter your registration.

This free service will reveal the car's first registration date along with other useful information, such as when the MOT is due to expire and the car's European emission status (eg Euro 6).

Car tax rates for cars first registered after 1 April 2017

There are three main rates for cars that were registered as new after 1 April 2017:

  1. The first-year rate is based on the amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) your car produces.
  2. After that, a standard rate applies. Petrol and diesel car owners will pay, from April 2022, £165 a year; it's £155 for alternative-fuel cars such as hybrids. This assumes you pay as a single, 12-month payment; rates are a little higher if you pay in instalments.
  3. Owners of cars that cost more than £40,000 have to pay an extra £355 a year in addition to the standard rate, for five years.

What are the current car tax rates?

The table below shows the current car tax rates. These rates apply to cars first registered on or after 1 April 2017.

Vehicle tax rates for petrol and diesel cars from April 2022

CO2 emissionsFirst-year rateStandard rate* from second year onwards
0 g/km£0£0
1-50 g/km£10£165
51-75 g/km£25£165
76-90 g/km£120£165
91-100 g/km£150£165
101-110 g/km£170£165
111-130 g/km£190£165

* Assumes single 12-month payment

Vehicle tax rates for alternative-fuel cars (hybrids, LPG, CNG, biofuel) from April 2021

CO2 emissionsFirst-year rateStandard rate* from second year onwards
0 g/km£0£0
1-50 g/km£0£155
51-75 g/km£15£155
76-90 g/km£110£155
91-100 g/km£140£155
101-110 g/km£160£155
111-130 g/km£180£155

*Assumes single 12-month payment.

What is the £40,000 car tax rule?

After the first year, owners of cars that cost more than £40,000 have to pay an additional annual supplement of £355 for five years – adding up to £1,775 in total. 

Vehicle tax rates for cars that cost more than £40,000

Here's what you'll pay for a car costing more than £40,000 during years two to six.

Fuel typeStandard annual rateAdditional rateTotal annual payment
Electric/hydrogen (zero emission)£0£0£0

Do you pay car tax on electric cars?

No. Electric cars (and hydrogen fuel-cell cars such as the Hyundai Nexo) are zero-emission vehicles, which are currently exempt from paying any form of car tax.

Electric cars registered before April 2017 are also exempt from car tax.

The £40,000 expensive-car rule, explained above, initially applied to electric cars. So if you bought a new Tesla Model X (an electric car that costs from £75,000), for instance, you used to have to pay this supplement from the second to sixth year of ownership. 

However, it was announced in the 2020 Budget that owners of zero-emission cars bought before 31 March 2025 would no longer have to pay that supplementary rate.

Unusually, this exemption from the supplement also applies to existing owners.

Are hybrid cars cheaper to tax?

The rates are slightly different for owners of alternative-fuel cars. These are vehicles that don't run purely on diesel or petrol, and include:

  • hybrids
  • plug-in hybrids
  • liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cars
  • compressed natural gas (CNG) cars
  • biofuel cars (bioethanol or biodiesel).

Drivers of alternative-fuel cars pay £10 less than petrol and diesel owners in the first year. They then pay £155 every year after.

Car tax rates for cars first registered before 1 April 2017

Any cars first registered as new after 1 March 2001, but before 1 April 2017, continue to be taxed at their previous, respective rates. These are based on official CO2 emissions.

The amount of CO2 your car produces puts it into one of 13 bands, which are assigned letters A to M. Cars in band A emit the least amount of CO2, and are currently exempt from paying any car tax throughout the life of the car.

The rates below show the current rates, assuming you choose to make a single payment for the year.

Current vehicle tax rates for cars registered pre-April 2017

Low-emission cars (producing up to 100g/km CO2) registered before 1 April 2017 were not liable for car tax. For cars registered from 1 April 2017, this exemption no longer applies.

These rates apply to cars first registered before April 2017. The rates also tend to increase year on year in line with RPI (the retail price index), and have been updated to show the latest April 2022-23 tax-year rates. 

Car tax bandCO2 emissionsAnnual rate
AUp to 100g/km£0

*Band K includes cars that have a CO2 figure of more than 225g/km but were registered before 23 March 2006. Annual rate after first year assumes single 12-month payment. You can choose to set up a direct debit to pay monthly, or pay a single payment every six months. But if you choose either of these options, you will end up paying more compared with a single payment for 12 months.

Previous tax rates for alternative-fuel cars

Alternative-fuel cars are those that don't run purely on diesel or petrol, such as hybrids.

The car tax rates for alternative-fuel cars registered before 1 April 2017 are £10 less than for regular petrol or diesel combustion cars; to get the rate for your car, deduct £10 from the rate in the table.

Cars registered before 1 March 2001

These car tax rates apply to cars registered from 1 March 2001. Cars registered before this date are charged based on their engine size; as of April 2022, those with engines smaller or equal to 1549cc now pay £180 a year, and those with larger engines pay £295 a year.

A rolling 40-year car tax exemption for classic vehicles applies from 1 April 2015. It means any vehicle built 40 or more years ago will be exempt from car tax on an automatic rolling basis on 1 April each year.

If you're deciding between a petrol or a diesel car, our petrol or diesel calculator will tell you which will cost you less.

How can I pay for my car tax?

Arguably the easiest way is to set up a direct debit. You can make annual, six-monthly or monthly payments; there is 5% surcharge for those paying every six months or monthly.

You can also pay by cash, debit or credit card, cheque or postal order in some post offices. If so, you will need to bring one of the following:

  • V5C log book (or V5C/2 if it's a new car)
  • V11 form.

In addition to one of the documents above, you also need to bring:

  • a valid MOT certificate
  • a valid Exemption Certificate (if you claim disabled vehicle tax).

If you live in Northern Ireland, you’ll also need valid paper copy of either your current certificate of insurance or a cover note.

Alternatively, you can phone the DVLA to pay your car tax. The phone number is 0300 790 6802.

What if I don't pay my car tax?

If you don't pay your car tax, initially you'll get a letter in the post accompanied by an £80 fine (although this is halved if you pay within 33 days).

If you continue not to pay, the fine could rise to a hefty £1,000 – plus court fees should it go to court. It's illegal to drive without car tax, and the police can issue you a Fixed Penalty Notice of £1,000 if they stop you and find you haven't paid it.

Do I need a tax disc?

Since 1 October 2014, you are no longer required to display a tax disc in the windscreen of your car.

This did not, sadly, mean the end of annual car tax, but it does have implications for buying and selling cars.

  • If you buy a used car, you can no longer transfer any remaining car tax, so you need to tax the car before you can use it.  
  • If you sell a car, you will get an automatic refund for any remaining car tax – as long as you have notified the DVLA of the sale.

However, you will only be refunded for any full calendar months remaining. That means if you sell your car one week into the month, both you and the new owner will effectively have to tax it for the remainder of that month.

Is car tax the same as road tax?

Road tax per se doesn't exist, as car tax goes towards more than just the upkeep of roads. However, understandably, a lot of people search for it when they're looking for car/vehicle tax or, to use its official name, Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).

The UK government website commonly refers to vehicle tax.

Now you're up-to-date with the new car tax rules, go to our car reviews for our independent test results and expert research.