Officially known as Vehicle Excise Duty, road tax has to be paid every year in the UK for a car to be legal. Below is a quick guide to road tax in the UK and how much it will cost a driver.
What is VED?
VED stands for Vehicle Excise Duty but it is often called road tax in the UK. Road tax is compulsory in the UK and a car is being driven illegally if it does not have a tax disc.
An owner can be prosecuted if the car is even on the road parked up if it does not have a valid tax disc and if a car is not being used it should be registered as SORN to avoid any fines.
SORN stands for Statutory Off-Road Notification and can be applied for on the government website.
What road tax band am I in?
VED, or road tax, is calculated by using the amount of CO2 emissions from the car in question. The level of CO2 emissions is measured in g/km (grams of CO2 per kilometre driven) and it varies between manufacturers, models and even individual engine choices.
For example, a small car with an efficient engine is likely to deliver CO2 emissions towards Band A of road tax and therefore pay less than a larger, more polluting vehicle in the highest Band, M.
In total there are 13 bands with steadily increasing costs to pay each year.
However, for cars registered before 1 March 2001, there are just two levels of VED, based on the engine size of the car. Any pre-March 2001 registered car with an engine size over 1549cc will pay £205 and any cars with an engine size under 1549cc will pay £125 as of April 2010.
How are CO2 emissions calculated?
You will not have to work out CO2 emissions for your car yourself. Instead, every derivation of every car is given an official CO2 emissions figure before they go on sale.
Therefore you will already know what you will potentially be paying before buying a car. You can do this by simply finding out the make, model, engine and trim level of the car and entering it into our clever road tax calculator.
What are first year emissions rates?
From April 2010, all newly registered cars had to pay ‘first year’ emissions rates. This means for one year buyers will pay a different set of rates before they revert to the standard rates in the second year.
This, says the Government, will emphasise the environmental implications of buying a vehicle with high CO2 emissions and give drivers an incentive to choose a lower emissions car in the short term.
First year tax rates are as follows:
|Band||Emissions||First year VED rate|
|A||Up to 100g/km||£0|
VED tax for cars registered before April 2010.
All cars registered after March 2001 and before April 2010 will pay the standard rate of VED tax, depending on the CO2 emissions of the vehicle.
Cars registered after April 2010 will pay standard VED after a year of paying the first year rates.
The standard emissions rates are as follows:
|Band||Emissions||Standard VED rate|
|A||Up to 100g/km||£0|
Are there any road tax free cars?
Yes, there are several cars which qualify for free road tax in the UK. However, it is important all cars are registered if they do fall in to Band A of road tax and a small admin fee (around £10) is likely to be charged for the tax disc.
But, all cars with CO2 emissions under 100g/km will be eligible for free road tax. All cars with CO2 emissions between 100g/km and 120g/km will be eligible for free road tax in the first year but this will go up to £35 in subsequent years (see Band B).
Some notable cars which fall under the 100g/km mark include the Ford Fiesta Econetic – a diesel version of the UK’s most popular car.
The Vauxhall Corsa ecoFLEX in three-door variation also qualifies for free road tax, as do certain Citroen C3, Citroen DS3, Seat Ibiza and Seat Leon models.
These tend to be diesel engines but the Fiat 500 is available in free road tax guise with its clever two-cylinder petrol TwinAir engine.
Elsewhere electric cars such as the Citroen C-Zero, Peugeot iOn and the Vauxhall Ampera extended-range electric vehicle are all eligible for free road tax.
Cars that are eligible for free road tax come with the added bonus of being exempt from the London congestion charge.
What cars can I expect in each band?
The CO2 emissions depend on the engine and model of each individual car. Below is a brief guide on some of the cars available in the three lowest bands.
Band A – Band A cars have emissions under 100g/km and therefore do not pay VED. More cars are being released all the time with sub 100g/km emissions, including the Citroen DS3, Fiat 500 TwinAir and the Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CTDI Ecoflex.
Band B – Models available in sub-110g/km Band B include city cars such as the Citroen C1 (1.0i VT), Peugeot 107 and Fiat Punto (1.3 16V MultiJet).
Band C – Band C models generally consist of larger city cars or the smaller supermini models. Cars in band C include the Renault Megane Coupe (1.5 dCi), Peugeot 207 (1.4 and 1.6 HDi) and Ford Focus (1.6 TDCi).
Although a few Multi Purpose Vehicles (MPVs) fall into band C, most fall into higher VED bands. The lowest CO2 MPVs include the Citroen Nemo Multispace 1.4 HDi (119g/km) and the Fiat Qubo 1.3 Multijet (119g/km).
Sports Utility Vehicles fall into a wide range of tax bands, although the cleanest models are capable of sub-160g/km. These include the Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi two-wheel drive (159g/km) and the Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI two-wheel drive (155g/km).
Currently, Band E (131-140g/km) is the most popular band, down from Band H in 1997. This outlines the trend towards more environmentally friendly vehicles as part of EU regulations which state each manufacturer must have average emissions across their range below 130g/km by 2015.