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How to check a car’s tax and insurance status

November 29, 2021 by

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.

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. 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.’

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.

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

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.

When is my car tax due?

You can see when your car tax is due through the government check tool

When is my car insurance due?

Check your car insurance policy documents for your end date.

What is the penalty for driving a car which isn’t taxed or insured?

Driving a car on public roads without tax can land you a fine of up to £1,000.

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.