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car tax disc

Don’t let car tax disc mistakes get you clamped

Car tax has gone digital and the disc in the window has been consigned to history. But misunderstandings and mistakes over when and how to pay have caught thousands of drivers out - leaving their cars untaxed. In March alone 8,630 cars were clamped.

Before the changes in 2014, the DVLA clamped around 5,500 cars a month. Since 2015 began that number has shot up to more than 8,500 a month, according to figures in The Guardian.

With automatic number plate recognition being used to see who is taxed and who isn’t, it’s not just the cost of removing a clamp that could come your way, but even paying for recovery from towing or fines of up to £1,000. There’s also the increased risk of scammers take advantage of uncertainty around the new rules.

To help you avoid any unexpected fines or charges, make sure you don’t make any of the following mistakes.

Thinking a used car is already taxed

If you buy a used car, you’ll no longer benefit from the remaining time left on the tax. As soon as the car changes hands, the previous owner will be refunded the remaining full months and the existing tax becomes invalid, even if there is a tax disc with an unexpired date.

You’ll have to register as the new owner and pay straight away before you can drive the vehicle.


Not checking your payment has gone through

Having a paper tax disc acted as proof your car was insured, so getting one in the post was a confirmation that you’d paid. Now that doesn’t happen you might miss a failed online payment or admin error. Either could make your car illegal to drive and you wouldn’t know.

Making sure you properly read any letters you receive from the DVLA should mop up most errors as you should receive a warning letter if your vehicle isn’t taxed. The best way to check is to enter your car registration and model on the Vehicle Enquiry site.

Forgetting when you need to renew

One benefit of the old system was that you could see if a vehicle was taxed and when you needed to renew.  You should receive a letter in the post telling you to pay again, but the best way to be sure is to put a note in your diary a month before it expires.

Giving your car and bank details over email

Since the changes, the DVLA have warned drivers to watch out for online scams. If you get an email asking you to verify your driving license and tax details to receive a refund, don’t respond. If you complete any transactions on the GOV.UK website you’ll be sure you are dealing with the DVLA.

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  • Mark / 13 February 2017

    I forgot to renew our £30 tax for the car, no letters in the post, but got clamped. Paid the £110 on the understanding it was £30 for the tax and the rest the fees for missing tax. Now we have received a bill from the DVLA for £85 late tax, and £42 for being 'caught' outside our house untaxed. Something tells me I am not the only one who will be paying more in fines than I have ever paid cumulatively for road tax in the cars entire lifetime! I'd have been fined less for GBH!

  • Tracy Rushworth / 24 October 2016

    Totally fed up to be polite as I have just had to pay £40 Fine, £46.67 back tax and still got £1200 to find for next 12 months road tax (HGV) all because I never got tax reminder in the post!!!!! Think it is totally despicable and very wrong and unfair on people who have genuinely forgotten to tax their vehicles just because the Government want to save money by not print paper tax discs. I am fuming to say the least.....

  • andyskol / 14 September 2016

    i would like to know how the dvla catch untaxed cars.there is one around the corner from is parked on the pavement facing the wrong way down a one way street and the tax expired last December.i even reported it to them two months is still there.

  • Nicola / 12 September 2016

    If my tax is up on the 30th of September, can I drive it that day and renew my tax that night? Or do I need to tax it before the 30th?

  • Reggie kray / 21 June 2016

    Be nice..tell that to the guy behind the counter at mitcham compound wno's gonna be taking £321 pounds off me in the morning all because the dvla didnt send a reminder that my tax was up for renewal.i asked him why i didnt recieve a reminder and he said some do some dont.well done dvla..what a crap system.

  • Denise close / 29 April 2016

    I didn't get a v11 reminder just a letter saying important action needed a day before due. Have you stopped sending reminder letters and just leave till the day before. Panic panic!!!

  • Brian Lewis / 29 April 2016

    I am trying to sorn my car as I have 5 months left. However the 16 digit number put in doesn't allow me to do it. Help I don't want to be fined

  • Anne Smith / 19 March 2016

    My car tax is due 31st March 2016. I have my mot booked for 22nd March My car is 4 years old. Today I received a note from DVLA. 'Important Action Needed You are at risk of your vehicle becoming untaxed.' I pay by DD. Why did I get this letter, and not the normal reminder?
    Thank you

  • Char / 17 March 2016

    I only realised today that my tax ran out April 2015. I am so stressed as u did not receive a reminder.
    I cannot renew online or over the phone. I will have to go to the post office. I am so worried. What can u expect from staff, fines etc

  • Modern Slave / 9 March 2016

    This is for my comment below. When we took out the car from the garage we DID TAX IT only to put it back thinking nothing more. We decided to SORN it at a date when we thought the tax would run out but as this was 7 days over they decided to charge us £80. Just clarifying. All our cars were taxed when they were on the road.

  • Modern Slave / 9 March 2016

    Absolute diabolical and disgusting disgrace. We have had a vehicle which has been in the garage since 2012 on account of getting a new car. Last year I went into the garage and noticed the car had sprung a leak so had to be repaired. Taxed it and took it out, to get the repair fixed and used it to get the machinery going then put it in to use our normal car. We informed DVLA and did a SORN on the vehicle in the garage. Started getting calls after calls for payment of Tax which became increasingly frequent bordering on harassment. Turns out there was a ONE WEEK delay in us putting the car on SORN between the tax expiry. (Since there are no physical discs anymore, surely they can understand but since this is Britain and the consumer is always the enemy they wouldn't have it). Finally decided to pay the £80 quid and thought this headache was behind us. Recently over the past few months calls have gotten worse and increasingly abusive, bordering on harassment. We are being told to be ashamed of ourselves (true story) for not paying and if we do not pay we shall be reported to the fraud department and taken to court. When they ring they want us to confirm our details and why should you when it could be anyone ringing? Anyways have spoken to DVLA who have advised theres apparently a tax periosd from two years ago outstanding and we would need to appeal it. We were also bluntly told even if we appeal it would not mean anything. How very shameless. So if they sent us a bill for a week in between taxation in 2015 why not send us the bill for 2014 also however I think it's because we relented and paid in 2015 out of technicality they are trying it on again. This is an absplute crying shame and one of the most disgusting things I have ever been subjected to in my entire life. Shame on the DVLA and if the higher ups are reading this, you all should spit on the floor and drown yourselves in it out of utter shame.

  • Barry Ward / 23 February 2016

    I never received a v11 but my car tax has renewed automatically because I opted for the direct debit option last year. I was surprised that the car was taxed this year as I always thought that there was a legal obligation on the drawer to inform the payee that the direct debit was continuing. I complained to the DVLA and am awaiting a response.

  • Robin Finn / 25 January 2016

    Just come off the phone after speaking to DVLA/payment centre and car clampers.
    My 80 year old mother had her car clamped at 09:25 this morning outside her house- no previous correspondence and they did not even have the decency to knock and inform her.
    Big sticker placed on window stating for non payment of tax for all neighbours to view.
    Took over 2 hours of phone calls to various people and was able to prove that car was taxed-we have receipt that car tax was paid £145 on 03 July 2015 and DVLA said it was due on 25 July 2015.
    Car clampers home for tea and no- one else can release car tonight. They will attend around 10:00 tomorrow morning.
    DISGUSTING way to treat an old lady!!
    Get your facts right before you clamp !!!!
    Police were sympathetic but unable to help,as I wanted clamp removed immediately as this is not her problem but said it was a civil matter.
    Will be taking DVLA to task over this.
    This should not be able to get to this point.
    The law needs changed back to paper tax discs ASAP to stop this happening.
    Very disappointed that DVLA did not try ANY form of contact before clamping.
    Hang your heads in shame for the this treatment of an elderly lady who has been severely distressed by this incident.
    DVLA must tighten up their procedures and CHECK their facts before they are allowed to clamp.
    When I managed to speak to someone who decided to check if I was telling the truth about payment it (miraculously) appeared on the system!
    Still it could not arrange unclamping immediately as it should have done!
    No apologies either.
    Disgusting situation from a government body.
    Hope this does not happen to one of your elderly relatives!!

  • Douglas Pollock / 14 January 2016

    I have just been fined £80 + back tax of £24 for a car that has been in my garage unused since September - NO reminder was received and of course no visible Tax Disc for a personal reminder. I appealed having not received the reminder that others have got and with no TD to look at as a personal reminder,- they replied saying that they are not obligated to send reminders - so it's my fault for not checking, pay up !!!
    I would love to take them to task, and go to court, dispute it and fight my corner hoping that it won't cost me more than the £64 fine if i lose my appeal. There is nothing in print telling you what could happen if you dispute your fine.
    Any comments appreciated before I decide to write a cheque for £64.

  • Luke Kiekopf / 16 December 2015

    Just got stung the same way everyone else in these comments seems to have... No reminder letter, no last chance warning and have been fined a large fine (equates to half a days wages for me or a quarter of the cost of my vehicle tax for the year) for the privilege... How can a system change so drastically that we no longer get reminders? yet as many have pointed out the fines seem to make it through just fine. I like many of the people commenting have never been without vehicle tax before and now find myself a victim of a crooked system. Does anyone know if there is a petition in place to oppose the system as everything is pointing towards the DVLA being money grabbing scammers... NOT what you expect from a Government institution... or is it!

  • Geoff / 16 December 2015

    My daughter was fined and then fined again within two days for not having her road tax. Both the V11 and the so called last chance letter were never received and I suspect never printed and posted by DVLA. However the fines did arrive!. With the removal of the visual tax disc reminder there is no other way for anyone to be sure that their vehicle is compliant expect the expectation that DVLA will produce, and you will receive two reminders. There is no other tax collection method used by the government, with variable dates, that exists like this!
    Protests to DVLA have only elicited standard responses saying that both the V11 and last chance letters are a courtesy and should not be relied upon. Is there any wonder that this system is now so broken that more and more people are getting clamped and the collection of this duty has reduced considerably. DVLA appear to believe that we have all turned into tax avoiding criminals overnight! The blame is squarely with DVLA for these errors and omissions and not the innocent people of the UK.

  • Gareth Lowe / 5 December 2015

    so frustrating to become one of the victims of the new system. When TDs were present I've never had an issue - 15+ years and 3 cars in my household always Taxed/SORN accordingly. Now I've received a fine yet I didn't receive the V11 reminder or the 'last chance' warning letter they supposedly issued!!! Can't prove either way so I'm stuffed with a fine.

  • T. Banks (again!) / 23 November 2015

    PS By the way - if you're frustrated by the DVLA number only being manned 9am-5pm (being 0300 790 6813), try the one that I found open until 7pm on 0300 123 1279. They answered quickly and were able to assist with regard to an online payment but also told us that the sending of future V11 reminders was probably cancelled when the Direct Debit was set up, yet not reinstated after a card payment was made (and as said in my last posting, the DD didn't resume either). Grrrr!....although perhaps they'll be reasonable?!?! - and save your breath telling me not to hold mine!

  • T. Banks / 23 November 2015

    Worried for a relative who received an untaxed vehicle warning letter today. Following a failed DD earlier in the year, it has apparently resulted in the cancellation of a V11 reminder although there have been no further DD deduction attempts since. So it was only today that we realised there had been no payment in October and I am very worried about what fine/s might come as a result. Car tax was renewed today but it will only accept from the beginning of November. Either the system is unreasonably inefficient or deliberately designed to trip people up. I guess future correspondence from DVLA will reveal which to us. I hope they will acknowldge that the reminder wasn't sent (nor any last chance correspondence) but should have been and waive any further action other than the opportunity to pay the tax for the missed month. At least an acknowledgement of payment has been emailed, proving they could be emailing reminders! - also I presume this means the car won't be unexpectedly towed. Any fines will be appealed - assuming (if applicable) this is possible.

  • Danni Neill / 2 November 2015

    Fiona /24 September: Yes Fiona, I've just become an unwitting victim in the same way. V11 came through showing NIL, and there's nothing that stands out boldly enough to make it clear you still have to go through the process. Having always paid tax on previous cars I had never had a NIL version before. I've had no last chance letter and don't even know what this actually is really despite looking online. Now I have a fine to pay and can't use the 16 digit ref number from the v11 to try and "pay" the zero balance as it has expired. Tel lines only open 9-5. The whole thing is a joke and I'm really angry. I always pay my bills.

  • fiona / 24 September 2015

    I have a zero rated vehicle ie. I do not pay for a tax disc due to eco friendly emmissions . I got the licence reminder form through a few weeks ago, it stated there was nil to pay. As there is no paper disc anymore I assumed all was ok. I have now found out that my vehicle was "untaxed" and am to be fined!! Has anyone else encountered this problem? I was not avoiding paying tax as there was nothing to pay

  • Tom / 1 August 2015

    I know tax is a virtual product,that dosent really exist but..
    At least when the tax "disc" was around I got something physical for my money that I could use to check when I needed to renew it. Now I have no reminder when I have to renew and my vehicle isn't recognised by the .Gov tax check I now have to pay to call them and check on my behalf? It's a joke, how does any of this benefit me in anyway at all?
    "If it ain't broke don't fix it"

  • Linda Robson / 12 May 2015

    I was aware of the change to the tax discs and then on reading more saw that 2nd hand cars when bought and sold did not retain their tax so can someone tell me if I buy a car from Mr Bloggs how do I get it home some people think that it's okay to drive home as the paperwork will not have gone through what do other people think.

  • Patricia Grey / 6 May 2015


  • R.Hopkins / 5 May 2015

    It makes me wonder who are the biggest "scammers", at present the change in the car tax system is almost D.V.L.A .Robbery Incorporated. No trial,no jury, just pay. Because we will soon be increasing the cost to cover our greed, incompetence, and give the rich more chance to evade tax.

  • Brian.Chester / 5 May 2015

    I found this very informative .I will certainly record an entry in my diary when V.E.D is due

  • David / 4 May 2015

    When someone sells a car on the first of the month and ask for the road tax back they will not get the money for that month only complete months, so they lose a month. The person buying the car will have to pay for the full month, even if they buy it on the last day of any month. So the government get paid road tax twice for the same car. The government are crooks and fraudsters. We the tax payers have paid for the number plate cameras to persecute the drivers, bus lane cameras, speed cameras, congestion cameras, and cameras used to enforce parking fines are all government ways to extort money from the motorist.

  • dawn stacey / 4 May 2015

    I didn't know any of this thanks this was a great help

  • Delphi / 3 May 2015

    Just another one of this governments mess ups. Meddling in things they no nothing about before thinking things through properly. Why on earth scrap the simple paper tax disc, it cost very little to print & was simple in that it was a visible reminder to us all, that you needed to buy a new one. Now who knows if a vehicles taxed or not & I'm so appalled to hear that used vehicles no longer carry over their road tax. That ones shocking.

  • jeremy ross / 3 May 2015

    this is bureaucracy out of control - no doubt there is fiscal corruption added in as well - do not ask us to be 'nice' while the bureaucrats are anything but - how long do we have to put up with these people ?

  • Lynn Ferguson / 3 May 2015

    Bring back the tax disc it will be hard for the older people to take it in

  • J. Davis / 3 May 2015

    Why oh why have they changed the car taxing system? - to get more money in by clamping!

  • Louise xx / 3 May 2015

    I need to change my bank details for my tax ive tried tinging and cant get through now worried as tax will be cancelled what can i do?

  • Brummagem Flash / 3 May 2015

    Since renewing our car tax; we no longer have a visual tax expiry reminder; unless we make our own "tax-reminder" disc!
    Our eleven-year-old car was STUPIDLY given a "VIC" marker by our insurers: because their assessor had "written it off". This was AFTER it had sailed through a post-accident MoT test; whilst awaiting the insurers' contracted assessor!
    Despite us telling them that the car had a fresh MoT certificate; and it was being used daily for commuting; the assessor's garage insisted on collecting the car by transporter!
    The car was EVENTUALLY judged "beyond economical repair", due to cosmetic damage all down one side; but it was patently NOT unroadworthy.
    There was actually NO NEED to take the car away from us: the damage was all visible, and repair to previous condition would obviously cost more than the vehicle's book value. The insurers seem to throw away money for unnecessary work: who knows how much the transporter, garage storage, and assessor's report must have cost: maybe £600-£800? We were also supplied with a hired replacement Vauxhall Insignia for four weeks.
    ( We adjudge the Insignia a DANGEROUS car: because of its VERY limited visibility to both front and rear. There is almost ZERO VISIBILITY behind; and you cannot reach past all the door padding to lean out of the window; so I often had to open the driver's door: to check that the road was clear! We also hated the pointless 6"-wide padded windscreen post: it blocks enough front-side view to "hide" TWO pedestrians stepping onto a crossing! What is the reason for extra-thick padding, in an area which can NEVER come into contact with any part of a passenger?
    We were very glad to get our SAFER old Hyundai back: a softer ride, and easy visibility all around! )
    What a crazy insurance scam! It must have cost the insurers over £1000, with the car-hire costs, to ascertain that our car was "beyond economical repair"! It should have been under £100 for a ten minute assessor visit.
    There has NEVER been any question over our old car's identity; the MoT station certainly recognised the vehicle from previous years' MoTs; so it should not have been subject to an £80 DVLA "vehicle identity check".
    We continued to insure and use the car almost daily; indeed, it can even now be taxed online, using the "reference number" from our OLD-STYLE log-book (reg'n doc.)
    However, unless we paid £80 for a VIC, DVLA won't issue a new-style (RED) V5 document; nor will they send out a tax expiry reminder.
    Well, we have just kept the old V5: we'll not throw £80 away for sweet fork oil!
    But we do have to remember the tax renewal date....