It is common knowledge amongst British drivers that in order to legally be on the road you need to have the holy trinity of insurance, tax and MOT, and by not having any one of these three you could be looking at an expensive letter landing on the doormat.
Can You Tax a Car Without MOT?
When the time comes for you to be able to renew your annual road tax, you will only be able to do so if your car has a valid MOT certificate. While it may be called road tax, it is not a tax specifically for maintaining roads (even if it does indirectly help pay for them). Vehicle Excise Duty, to give it its official title, is a tax on goods and services that damage consumer health or the environment, effectively encompassing anything that uses the public road, even if just parked, and damages the environment, such as petrol and diesel engines. Without a valid MOT certificate, you cannot legally drive on public roads, and as such cannot pay the tax.
Why Do You Need MOT to Tax Your Car?
An MOT is required in order to tax your car as it proves that the vehicle is actually in a roadworthy condition and safe to be driven in public and around other road users. Without proving the condition of the car, the DVLA will not allow you to tax the vehicle and, although that sounds like it might be quite nice, it does render it illegal should you take it out on a public road.
There are, however, some exceptions to this rule which we will cover below.
Are There Exceptions for Taxing Cars Without MOT?
There are a number of exceptions that do allow you to tax your car without having an MOT ‘pass’ certificate on your vehicle’s record. For starters, new cars don’t need to be MOT’d at all until three years after their production. Of course, there’s no need to prove the MOT status of these cars in order to pay your tax.
Then, at the other end of the spectrum, classic cars – classified as vehicles over the age of 40 – may not need to be MOT’d or taxed, saving their owners a considerable amount of money each year.
How to Check Your Car Tax and MOT?
Luckily, checking if your car is taxed or has a valid MOT is an incredibly simple task, providing you know the registration number for your vehicle and have access to the internet. All you have to do is visit gov.uk’s tax checker, where simply inputting your car’s registration details will bring up a second screen asking to confirm your car details – it will offer you the make and colour of your car, and if that is correct then you can move on to the next page, which will let you know if your car has MOT or is taxed, and when both are due.
If you need to check how much the current tax rate for your car is then you’ll need to take the 11-digit reference number from your vehicle’s V5C, commonly known as the logbook.
Is your insurance valid if you have no MOT?
While an MOT is required before taxing your car, it is not required in order to have the car insured. However, while you can get insurance, you may find that your insurer will not cover you in the event of an accident. It’s also worth noting that driving without a valid MOT certificate is illegal, and doing so may invalidate your insurance policy.
Can I Drive Without Car Tax?
Generally speaking, the answer would be no. However, there are a few more exceptions to talk about here, too. We can reiterate that you most likely won’t need car tax if you’re the owner of a ‘classic’ vehicle, but disabled drivers should also be exempt from this yearly charge – but you should always check that you are eligible and that you apply for this exemption if necessary.
The other exemption feels a bit like a dodgy loophole, but actually it’s a perfectly legitimate excuse for driving without tax – you just need to be able to prove it if you’re pulled over. You can’t renew your car tax if you MOT expires, but this workaround will allow you to legally fix this problem. Since you can’t tax a car without an MOT, but you can’t drive without tax, you are allowed to drive your car without tax as long as you are only travelling to a pre-booked MOT test. This is how you do it:
- Book an MOT test
- Retain an email or printed booking confirmation
- Present this to a police officer if you are pulled over
- Proceed, in your car, directly to the MOT test centre and nowhere else.
- MOT your car
- Tax it immediately afterwards
What happens if I drive without tax and MOT?
Driving without a valid MOT is not only dangerous but also illegal, and doing so is likely to invalidate your insurance, which is another crime in itself. IF you are caught driving without a valid MOT you could find yourself slapped with a fine of up to £1,000, although this could rise to £2,500 if your car is deemed unroadworthy – even if your MOT is still valid.
The fine for your car not being taxed is another £1,000, but isn’t just confined to cars being driven on the road. If your car is parked on the road but not moving, it is still defined by law as being on the public road, so it must be taxed and insured. If your car is not planning to be moved anytime soon, then your best option is to move it either onto a driveway or into a garage and declare it as SORN.
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