How to Cancel Car Tax: A Step-by-Step Guide

Car tax facts? We’ve got your back.

Have you sold your car, and now you’re wondering how to cancel the car tax? You’re in the right place. Here, we explain the hows, whys, whats, and whens of road tax cancellation.  

Car tax goes by many names. It’s also known as “road tax,” “the road fund licence,” or “Vehicle Excise Duty” (VED). 

No matter what you call it, road tax pays the government funds to maintain and improve the UK’s roads and motorways. Drivers must pay car tax every year to legally drive on public roads.

But if you need to sell your car (or it’s been written off or stolen), you can cancel your road tax payments. And the good news is, it’s super easy to cancel your car tax online. Plus, you might even be entitled to a refund! 

Let’s dive in to learn more.

Reasons for cancelling road tax

Already know why you’re cancelling? Skip to the how.  

The DVLA will only accept certain reasons for the cancellation of car tax. You can cancel if: 

  • You sell or transfer your car to a new owner or dealership
  • Your car has been written off by your insurance company (read more about Cat S and Cat N write-offs)
  • Your car has been stolen
  • Your car has been exported out of the country
  • Your car has been scrapped (read more about car scrappage schemes here)
  • You’ve taken the car off the road and applied for a SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification)
  • Your car is now exempt from road tax (for example, it’s a classic car made before 1 January 1982, or it’s now used by a disabled person)

If one of those reasons doesn’t apply, you unfortunately don’t need to worry about how to cancel your car tax. It can’t be done. 

What happens if you’re caught driving without car tax? 

Wondering if finding out how to cancel car tax is worth it? Thinking about taking a risk and driving without car tax? Don’t do it!

If you do, you could be fined £80 by the DVLA. (That amount is halved if you pay within 28 days.) The DVLA run monthly computer checks to find untaxed vehicles, so it’s practically impossible to avoid a fine.

And if the police catch you driving an untaxed motor, you could wind up with a maximum penalty of £1,000. Your car could be clamped too. 

However, you won’t get any points on your licence for driving without road tax. 

How will the police know if my car isn’t taxed?

In the past, the police would manually check the paper tax disc on the windscreen to make sure your car tax was up-to-date. Nowadays, it’s all done electronically. 

Using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, your registration is scanned and checked against the information in the DVLA database. If your car’s untaxed, it’ll be flagged, and you’ll be issued an on-the-spot fine. 

How do I cancel my car tax with the DVLA? 

The quickest and easiest way to cancel your car tax is online. The DVLA’s website has specific instructions for how to stop tax on a car if it’s been sold, transferred, written off, stolen, or exported. 

But before you visit the website, you’ll need your V5C, otherwise known as your vehicle log book. This proves that you’re the registered keeper of the car, and you have the authority to cancel the road tax.  

To use the DVLA’s online service, you’ll need an 11-digit reference number. You’ll find this in the yellow “sell, transfer or part-exchange your vehicle to the motor trade” section of your V5C. 

Simply navigate to the option that matches your situation to get started: 

Can I cancel my car tax without my car log book?

No. You’ll need the V5C reference number before you get started. The DVLA can send you a replacement log book if you’ve lost yours, but this will cost £25.

Who do I ring to cancel my car tax?

If you want to speak to someone about how to cancel your car tax, call the DVLA on 0300 790 6802. The phone line is generally available during the following hours:

  • Monday to Friday, 8 am to 7 pm
  • Saturday, 8 am to 2 pm

Can I just cancel my Direct Debit for road tax?

You could, but you’d still need to let the DVLA know you’re cancelling your car tax. When you do that, they’ll cancel your road tax Direct Debit payments on your behalf.

Does car tax cancel automatically when I sell my car? 

No, it won’t cancel automatically, and it’s non-transferable. You need to tell the DVLA to cancel your car tax when you no longer own the vehicle. 

Can I get a car tax refund?

You can, but it depends on how (and how much) you’ve paid. 

If you’ve been paying by a monthly Direct Debit, the DVLA will simply cancel future payments. You won’t be entitled to a refund. But if you’ve paid for 12 months of car tax upfront, you’ll get a refund for any remaining full months you’ve got left. 

For example, you pay for the year in advance, but then sell your car after six and a half months. You’ll get a refund for five months (not five and a half). 

How will my car tax refund be paid?

The DVLA’s processes are still a bit old-fashioned. Road tax refunds are paid by cheque, which will be sent to the address where your car was registered. 

How long does a car tax refund take?

It usually takes around six weeks to get your refund, but you might find that your cheque will arrive sooner. Fingers crossed!

What happens if I don’t get my car tax refund?

As mentioned above, it can take up to six weeks from the date of cancellation for the DVLA to process your refund and send your cheque. If you haven’t heard anything after this point, you should contact them directly by: 

  • Email: Visit the Email DVLA page on the GOV.UK website. Select “Vehicle Enquiries” and then “Tax including direct debit enquiries, declaring a vehicle off the road (SORN) or refunds of tax.” Follow the options and send your email enquiry. 
  • Phone: You can call the DVLA on 0300 790 6802. Lines are open from Monday to Friday, 8 am to 7 pm, and on Saturdays from 8 am to 2 pm. Note that charges apply — 10p per minute from a landline and up to 40p per minute from a mobile phone.
  • Post: You can also write to the DVLA at:

    Vehicle Customer Services

SA99 1AR

What if my refund cheque is made out in the wrong name?

If you get your refund cheque, but it’s in the wrong name, you’ll need to write to the DVLA’s refund team at: 

Refund Section 



SA99 1AL

What won’t DVLA refund? 

The DVLA will only refund you the car tax you’re entitled to. You won’t get a refund on any additional charges (for example, if you paid using a credit card).

To recap:

Wondering how to cancel tax on a car? The fastest and easiest way is to do it online via the DVLA website. That walks you step by step through how to cancel your car tax. 

Alternatively, you can call the DVLA on 0300 790 6802. Either way, you’ll need your V5C log book and the 11-digit reference number before you can cancel. 

If you want to find out your car tax status, try out our free-to-use Car Tax Checker tool.

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