Car tax bands explained

Car tax (officially known as VED but sometimes referred to as road tax) is a big running cost with cars. It can be anything from zero to £1,000 or more a year, depending on how environmentally-friendly the car is. Find out below how car tax rates are calculated, who’s exempt from it and how to work out the tax price on any car using online tools.

Taxing a car – the basics

Car tax must be paid on all vehicles registered in the UK that are driven on or kept on a public road. Choosing the right car can make a big difference to your tax costs. Plus, choosing a low-tax car could mean the car holds its value better as more people will want to buy it.

A vehicle kept off-road must also be taxed or have a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification).

Find out the tax on any new or used car

Car owners exempt from car tax

The following types of car owners pay no car tax:

  • Owners of band A cars
  • Owners of a brand new car (in their first year of registration) in band B to D – but once the car goes past its first birthday you’ll need to start paying tax

If you have a disability, you may be entitled to free car tax if you:

  • Receive the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Receive War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement
  • Have an invalid carriage

You don’t have to pay car tax on vehicles made before 1 January 1974 (known as ‘historic vehicles’). Find out what other vehicles are exempt from tax on the GOV.UK website.

How much is car tax?

Cars registered on or after 1 March 2001

Top tip

For help working out all your car’s running costs, try our Car costs calculator tool.

The rate of tax you pay depends on the car’s official CO2 emissions and the type of fuel it uses. Costs can vary from nothing for a non-polluting electric car like the Nissan Leaf, through to £1,100 for the first year of a 6-litre Bentley Flying Spur (£505 for year 2 onwards).

The rates are split into bands based on how many grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) a car emits per kilometre driven, as follows:

Petrol car and diesel car

Band CO2 emission (g/km) Total cost for 12 months
A Up to 100 £0.00
B 101-110 £20.00
C 111-120 £30.00
D 121-130 £110.00
E 131-140 £130.00
F 141-150 £145.00
G 151-165 £185.00
H 166-175 £210.00
I 176-185 £230.00
J 186-200 £270.00
K* 201-225 £295.00
L 226-255 £500.00
M Over 255 £515.00

*Includes cars with a CO2 figure over 225g/km but were registered before 23 March 2006.

For alternative fuel cars, car tax works out £10 cheaper for each band. So, for example, an alternative fuel car that fits in band B will cost £10 instead of £20, for band C it will cost £20 instead of £30, and so on.

However, if your car is in its first year after it was registered the rates are higher in the first year for bands H to M (see below). For bands E to G the rates are the same in the first year as in following years.

Band CO2 emission (g/km) Total cost for 12 months
H 166-175 £300.00
I 176-185 £355.00
J 186-200 £500.00
K 201-225 £650.00
L 226-255 £885.00
M Over 255 £1,120.00

You can break these payments up to help manage the costs but you have to pay a little extra to do this. You can pay monthly, or a 6 month rate.

Find out more about vehicle tax rates on the GOV.UK website.

Cars registered before 1 March 2001

The tax rate is based on engine size only. There is one rate for engines up to 1549cc and one for over 1549cc.

Engine size (cc) 12 months rate
Not over 1549 £145.00
Over 1549 £235.00

Calculate the tax on your car using the simple calculator on the GOV.UK website.

Find new cars by tax band on the GOV.UK website.

After April 2017

Car tax will change for new cars bought as of April 2017. First year rates will change based on the carbon dioxide emissions of the vehicle. There will be a flat standard rate of £140 for all cars except those emitting 0 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, for which the standard rate will be £0. Cars with a list price above £40,000 will attract a supplement of £310 per year for the first five years in which the standard rate is paid.

The end of the tax disc

Did you know?

Almost all UK motorists pay their tax on time – 99% according to DVLA figures for 2013.

Since 1 October 2014 you are no longer required to display a tax disc. The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) and police now use an electronic register to check that people have paid their car tax.

Now when you buy a vehicle, the car tax will no longer be transferred with the vehicle. So you must tax it before you can use it.

Your next step

Read about the different ways you can pay for a car

How to find the right car for your budget

Find out more about car insurance