vehicle tax

What documents do I need to tax my car?

25th May, 2021

Like it or not, being on top of paperwork is a pretty important part of owning a vehicle. We know how tedious it can be here at Scrap Car Network, which is exactly why we try and make it all as straightforward as possible when you decide – I need to scrap my car.

Before you get to that stage though, it’s still particularly important to make sure you keep up with the essential bits of admin, like tax and insurance, especially since it’s illegal to take the car on the roads without them. The good news is that sorting out tax is a pretty simple process, particularly if you’ve got all the right paperwork. Here, we’ve explained how to get the job done, whether you’re the current owner of the car, or you’ve just bought one. Let’s start with an obvious question…

Do I need to tax my car?

Yes. All cars need to be taxed in order for them to be road-legal. The confusion around this question seems to have arisen from the fact that certain cars are exempt from actually paying tax, such as electric vehicles, and those used by people with disabilities. However, even if your car fits the definition of a tax-exempt vehicle, you’ll still need to apply for tax anyway, so that its tax-exempt status can be verified through official means. (Otherwise, there wouldn’t be much stopping pretty much anyone from unilaterally deciding that their car is tax-exempt, and you can see why the government wouldn’t be too keen on that!)

It’s worth noting that the law surrounding vehicle tax, and the way in which it’s calculated, changed in April 2017. The RAC has helpfully published an extensive guide to car tax bands if you need a little more detail.

You can choose to pay your vehicle tax either as a single lump sum for the year, or two six-monthly payments, or 12 monthly instalments. If you choose either of the latter two options, you’ll be charged an additional 5%. You can pay the DVLA in cash, cheque, debit or credit card, or if you’re paying at the Post Office, you can also make use of your Post Office Budget Card, Postal Order or Sterling travellers cheque.

How to tax your own car as the current keeper

There are three ways that you can tax your car: online, over the phone, or in person at a Post Office. Depending on what method you choose, you’ll need one of the following documents:

  • Your V5C, vehicle registration document, or vehicle logbook (three different names for the same bit of paper.) The V5C must be in your name.
  • A V62 application – this is the official document used to request a new or replacement V5C from the DVLA.
  • A green ‘new keeper’ slip if you’ve just bought the car, and haven’t yet received your V5C.
  • A V11 ‘last reminder’ letter from the DVLA, reminding you to pay your car tax.

If you’re the current keeper, you should have your V5C filed away somewhere. If you’ve misplaced it however – and don’t worry, countless people do – then it’s reasonably easy to get a new one. (Another post of ours explains what to do if you’ve lost your V5C.)

It’s a good idea to try and dig it out at least two months before you’re next due to tax your car, as this will give you plenty of time to apply for and receive a new one if you need to.

If you’re concerned you won’t get your V5C in time to tax your car, then it’s worth looking out for a V11 reminder, which is very likely to arrive in the meantime. If you already pay your car tax on an annual basis, the government will generally send you a V11 about a month or so before your next car tax is due.

How to tax your car online

If you want to tax your car online, you’ll need either your V5C, your new keeper slips or your V11 reminder if you’ve got one.

Specifically, if you’re current keeper then you’ll need the 11 digit reference number from your V5C. If you haven’t yet received a V5C in your name on the other hand, you’ll need the 12 digit reference number from the new keeper slip.

Your V11 on the other hand will contain an important 16-digit reference number that you can use in place of the 11-digit number on your V5C, or the 12-digit number on your new keeper slip.

How to tax your car by phone

Just give the DVLA a call on 0300 123 4321. You’ll need to have either your V5C or your new keeper slip on hand.

Bear in mind that while it’s simple to do, it might not be very quick, as the phone lines get very busy. Make sure you clear an hour or so just in case, and maybe put the kettle on.

How to pay at a Post Office

First off, check in advance that the Post Office you’re planning on visiting actually deals with car tax. If so, make sure to visit with one of the following:

  • A V5C registration certificate in your name
  • A V62 application for a registration certificate
  • A new keeper slip if you’ve just bought the car, and don’t yet have a V5C

You might also need:

  • A payment for your vehicle tax
  • A valid MOT test certificate (it’ll need to be active when the vehicle tax starts)

If you’re planning on setting up a direct debit to pay for your car tax, make sure to bring a proof of address, your photographic ID and the details of your bank or building society.

Where is the 16 digit reference number on a V11?

You’ll generally be able to find the 16 digit reference number right at the top of your V11 reminder letter. You’ll generally get a V11 form at any stage after the 5th day of the month – i.e. the month before your car tax is due. So for example if your car tax is due on the 7th of August, you can expect to receive a letter at any stage from the 5th of July onwards.

Crucially though, try not to rely on getting this 16 digit number through a V11 reminder if you can help it. By definition, it’s giving you a very limited window in which to respond. It’s far safer to do it well ahead of time, ideally using the reference number on your V5C, or a V62 if you have one.

What if I don’t have a V11 reminder?

If you’ve not had your V11 reminder yet but you think your tax may be about to expire, the government has a handy online enquiry service you can use to find out when the tax is next due.

Happily, you can still tax your car without a V11, as long as you’ve still got your vehicle logbook, also known as your vehicle registration document or V5C. If you’ve lost your V5C, you can use the V62 application for a registration certificate.

If you’ve not got that either, the solution is simple but may or may not be terribly quick – you’ll just have to apply for a new logbook, and tax your vehicle at a Post Office. A new V5C costs £25, which can be a bit of a pain to pay – but not quite as much of a pain as the fine you’d get if you were caught driving an untaxed car!

How to tax a used car you’ve just bought

If you’ve just bought a new or pre-owned car, getting the tax sorted should be one of the first things on your list of stuff to do. These days, car tax doesn’t transfer between owners, so if the previous owner had any car tax remaining on the vehicle, that’s sadly not something you’ll benefit from. Instead, when the car’s ownership is transferred to you, the DVLA will cancel the car tax and refund it to the previous owner. From the date of the sale onward, they’ll expect that car tax from you instead, so make sure to get it all ironed out before you take the car out on the roads.

If you need any more details on that side of things, feel free to check out our more detailed post on car tax refunds.

If you’ve just bought a pre-owned car, you can use the V5C/2 green New Keeper Supplement from the previous owner’s V5C, which is a section they should have removed and given to you. (It’s otherwise known as a Section 10, recognisable by its green shade, and can generally be found on the right hand page on the inside of the logbook.)

That green New Keeper Supplement, or Section 10, will have a 12-digit reference number that you’ll need to provide the DVLA when taxing your car, if you don’t have a V5C in your name just yet.

So what if that Section 10 has gone missing, or the previous owner hasn’t given it to you? Sorry, bad news there – you can’t tax your vehicle without it.

That means you’ll need to complete a V62 application for a new registration certificate, at which point the DVLA will provide you with a new V5C at a cost of £25. You can do this online, or get the form at your local Post Office.

And that’s all there is to it! All pretty simple and straightforward – which is incidentally just the way we do things here at Scrap Car Network. Once your car’s driving days are done, you can always rely on us to get you the very best price when you scrap your car.

All you need to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and we’ll get you an instant online quote before you can say cash for cars. It only takes a few seconds. Curious to find out how much your car is worth?

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