How to check a car’s insurance and tax status

May 12, 2023 by

Wondering how to check if a car is taxed and insured? Wonder no more

Though it will set you back a bit of money, it’s a legal requirement to have your car both taxed and insured if you’re driving it on public roads.

If you’re caught driving without either of those, you could be facing points on your licence, big fines and even the potential for your car to be crushed.

If you’re unsure on either, the good news is that it’s really easy to check your car’s tax and insurance status. Read on to find out how to do both.

How to check if a car is taxed

Checking your car’s tax status is free and easy to do through the Government’s website.

Avoid third party companies that ask for payment for this service — it’s not any easier for you and there’s no need to pay to do it.

How to use the Government’s car tax checker

  1. Head to the Government’s tax checker
  2. Enter the registration of the car
  3. Confirm the car details are correct

Once you hit continue, you should see two boxes — one confirming the tax status and the other the MOT.

If it’s a green box, that means the car is taxed — you’ll also see when the car’s next renewal is due. If the car isn’t taxed, this will be red.

The DVLA has a service that allows you to report an untaxed car, should this be a course of action you wish to take.

How to check if a car is insured

The best way to check if a car is insured is to use the Motor Insurance Database (MID). This is a publicly-available database that insurers also have access to, and you can use to confirm the status of a car.

This does not reveal any personal information or anything about the insurance policy. Just a simple confirmation of the car model and a yes or no to confirm if it’s insured.

Again, this is a free service to use — so ignore any third party companies that try and charge you for the same thing.

You should only use it to check the insurance status of your own car. The MID has a separate tool for checking another car in the event of an accident.

How to use the Motor Insurance Database check tool

  1. Head to the Motor Insurance Database tool page
  2. Enter your car’s registration

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be presented with a page that confirms the car model and insurance status.

What to do if your car isn’t taxed or insured

It is a legal requirement for your car to be both taxed (unless exemptions apply) and insured if you’re using it on public roads.

Driving a car on public roads without tax can land you a fine of up to £1,000. A handful of exemptions apply, including:

Vehicles used by a disabled person

You can claim a disability exemption when you apply for vehicle tax. Until this is confirmed though, you should continue to tax your car as normal.

Disabled passenger vehicles

Vehicles used by organisations specifically to provide transport for disabled people are exempt.

Historic vehicles

Vehicles produced before 1 January 1981 are exempt from paying tax.

Electric cars

Electric cars do not need to have tax paid for at the moment. The exact definition from the Government is “The electricity must come from an external source or an electric storage battery not connected to any source of power when the vehicle is moving to be exempt.’ Do note, though, that from 1 April 2025 electric cars will be liable for road tax, and under the current pricing structure (which may in time increase with inflation) this will stand at £10 for the first year, and £165 for each subsequent year; EVs costing over £40,000 from new will also be subject to the annual £355 ‘luxury’ car supplement, which runs from years two to six of a vehicle’s life.

Steam vehicles

Steam-powered vehicles are tax-exempt. That’s a bit of pub trivia for you.

Vehicles used for agriculture, horticulture and forestry

This includes tractors and light agricultural vehicles typically used off-road. ‘Limited used’ vehicles which are used for no more than 1.5 kilometres (0.93 miles) between land occupied by the same person.

Unless those exemptions apply, you must pay for your car tax. It’s easy to do — just head to the dedicated government page and follow the steps. You’ll need your V5C logbook and a V11 reminder if you have one.

Only one exemption applies to car insurance and that’s for SORN vehicles. Declaring a car SORN means you must have it parked on private property — it cannot be left on a public road.

Driving a car on a public road without insurance puts you at risk of a fixed £300 penalty and 6 points on your licence. If the case goes to court, there’s the potential for an unlimited fine and disqualification from driving.

The police also have the power to seize and, in some extreme cases, even destroy your car.

If you need car insurance, your best bet is to use price comparison websites. These can compare offers from various insurers to help you find the best deal for you.

Why is it important to check if a car is insured and taxed?

It is a legal requirement for all cars to be taxed unless you have made a SORN declaration and your car is kept off the road (it can’t be street-parked), and you face a penalty of £1,000 or five times the amount of outstanding tax (whichever is greater). Your car could also be clamped by DVLA agents, with release fees adding to the bill.

Similarly, it is illegal to use a car on a public road without at least having third-party insurance cover. Penalties for uninsured driving include six penalty points and a £300 fine, or you could receive a driving ban and unlimited fine if your case goes to court.

FAQs: how to check a car’s tax and insurance status

When is my car tax due?

Road tax can be paid on a monthly basis, every six months, or annually. When it is due will obviously depend on these factors, as well as the date you started paying tax. If you choose the annual option and pay, for example, on 21 March, it will be due again 21 March the following year. Do note that paying for the full year saves you a little money: a car with the standard £165 annual rate will cost a total £173.25 if you pay monthly or every six months.

You can use the Government’s online tool to check if a vehicle is taxed, and also see when its tax runs out, and will therefore need renewing.

When is my car insurance due?

As with road tax, car insurance companies typically offer annual and monthly payment options and, again, paying for a full year will typically save you money. Even if you pay monthly your renewal date will typically be annual, meaning the monthly payments will remain fixed for a year. Speak to your insurer to find out when your policy is due for renewal if you are unsure.

Can I tax a car without insurance?

It’s illegal to have a car that’s taxed without insurance. If this is the case, you’ll likely get a warning letter from the Motor Insurance Database warning you before a potential fine from the DVLA.

Is my car insured if it is not taxed?

If you have a policy in place and your car is not taxed, it will technically still be insured — but your insurance company has the right to refuse a payout and potentially cancel your policy.

Can I insure and tax a car on the same day?

There are no set days for you to tax or insure your car. You’re free to do both at once if you wish.

What vehicles are exempt from paying tax?

Some cars are zero-rated for road tax, but you still need to ‘tax’ them, even though this is a purely administrative task that requires no money changing hands.

Electric cars are exempt from road tax until 2025, as are cars emitting under 100g/km of carbon dioxide that were first registered from 1 March 2001 to 31 March 2017. Cars that are over 40 years old are also exempt, as are cars belonging to people in receipt of certain benefits. Our guide to cars that are exempt from road tax has more information.

What do I need to tax my car?

You will need the car’s registration and the 11-digit reference number from either its V5C logbook or the green ‘new keeper’ slip from this if you’ve just bought the car; or you can use the 16-digit reference number from the V11 reminder letter that you should receive as your tax comes up for renewal.

What do I need to insure my car?

The insurance company will need your name, date of birth, address, occupation and the vehicle registration, plus you’ll need to answer a number of other questions about your life, and driving history.

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