A calendar with a post it note saying "road tax" on one of the dates as a reminder
Back to Living and Lifestyle

Can you be exempt from Road Tax?

Running a car is one of our more expensive outgoings these days. So it’s not surprising that many people want to know if they might be exempt from paying road tax – or ‘vehicle excise duty’ (VED) to give it its official name.

The short answer is yes, some vehicles are road tax exempt, but certain criteria need to be met. Exemptions include:

Electric vehicles (EVs)

Gone are the days of electric cars being stereotyped as unconventionally styled and lacking in performance, with cars like the Model S from Tesla changing the image of EVs. That said, more affordable electric cars are available, such as the Renault ZOE and Nissan LEAF.

Fully electric cars registered before April 2017 are exempt from vehicle excise duty, primarily because they emit no CO2 into the atmosphere. But if you’re thinking about buying an electric car, you need to be aware that vehicles registered from April 2017 are subject to the government’s new taxation system. Only zero-emissions vehicles continue to be exempt.  All other cars are taxed on a scale tied to their emissions for the first year, followed by a flat rate of £140 per annum after – though a £10 discount is applied to that for hybrid and electric vehicles. And even then, fully electric, zero-emissions vehicles costing over £40,000 are also subject to an additional charge of £310 per annum.

Find out more about the DVLA’s road tax changes here >>

‘Historic’ cars

Historic vehicles are exempt from road tax, though this term applies to cars over 40 years of age on a rolling basis. To qualify this year, 2017, a car would have to have been registered before 1st January 1977. To negate any ambiguities surrounding the date of a vehicle’s registration, perhaps because of importation or storage, historic qualification is based on the build date. A car reaching its 40th anniversary doesn’t automatically become road tax exempt and the owner must wait until April 1st of the following year before enjoying paying nothing. Plus, a ‘historic’ car is not the same as a ‘classic’ car, the latter of which is not necessarily exempt.

A vehicle registered and solely used by a named disabled person

If a vehicle is used exclusively for the needs of a disabled person, and is only driven by that person or their nominated driver, it will likely be exempt from road tax. The vehicle must be registered in the disabled person’s name and they must be in receipt of the War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the higher rate, or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) under the enhanced rate mobility component. Certificates of entitlement must be provided in order for a disabled person to successfully register for car tax exemption.

Vehicles used for transporting disabled people

Various organisations throughout the UK provide transport for disabled people, and the vehicles they use are also typically qualify for vehicle excise duty exemption.

Other road tax-free vehicles

  • Mowers used solely for cutting grass
  • Mobility scooters
  • Invalid carriages
  • Powered wheelchairs with a top speed of 8mph or less and that are fitted with a device limiting them to 4mph on footways
  • Emergency services vehicles
  • Gritters
  • Snow ploughs
  • Vehicles powered by steam

Vehicles used for agricultural, forestry and horticultural use on off-road terrain, including tractors, are also exempt from VED.

An important note

If a vehicle you’re thinking about buying falls into one of the above road tax-exempt categories, you’ll still need to go through the process of applying for road tax in the normal way. So you’ll need to provide any supporting documentation you’re asked for. Remember you won’t get a paper tax disc for your windscreen, as they were stopped some time ago.