In the UK, road tax is intricately tied to the vehicle itself, rather than its owner. This often leads to the common question: “Can you transfer road tax?” The answer is straightforward: No, road tax cannot be transferred from one owner to another. When a vehicle changes ownership, the new owner is responsible for taxing it in their name.

How does road tax work when buying or selling a car?

In the UK, it’s essential to comprehend the intricacies of road tax transfer when buying a used vehicle. Contrary to a common misconception, road tax does not automatically transfer between owners. It is linked to the vehicle itself, not the person who previously owned it. Therefore, when ownership changes hands, it’s the responsibility of the new owner to ensure the vehicle is taxed in their name.

The Non-Automatic Transfer

It’s crucial to emphasize that road tax doesn’t switch over automatically upon purchase. The previous owner’s tax does not cover the new owner. The new owner must tax the vehicle in their name, or it is considered untaxed, potentially leading to legal consequences.

Taxing the Vehicle in Your Name

To tax the car as the new owner, you’ll need the V5C logbook, which signifies your legal ownership of the vehicle. Visit the official DVLA website or local Post Office to tax the vehicle. You can choose annual, semi-annual, or monthly payment options depending on your preference.

Penalties for Driving an Untaxed Vehicle

Driving an untaxed vehicle in the UK is illegal and carries penalties. These can include fines and the possibility of having your vehicle clamped or impounded. It’s essential to ensure that the vehicle is taxed promptly after purchase to avoid such consequences. Always check the tax status of a vehicle before taking ownership to stay on the right side of the law.

transfer road tax vc5 certificate

How to protect yourself when buying a used vehicle

Unfortunately there is bad actors out there when you buy a used vehicle. Therefore it is necessary to be sure everything is above board before you purchase the vehicle. This is what you do in regards to tax when it comes to buying a used car.

Scenario 1: Missing or Delayed V5C Logbook

In the event of a missing or delayed V5C logbook when buying a car, take precautionary steps. Avoid completing the sale without this crucial document, as it signifies legal ownership. Request a duplicate V5C from the DVLA if necessary, ensuring your name is correctly registered before proceeding.Additionally, use online vehicle check services to verify the car’s tax status and history, reducing the risk of purchasing an untaxed vehicle.

Scenario 2: No V5C Transfer After Purchase

If you’ve bought a car but haven’t received the V5C transfer confirmation in your name, don’t delay. Immediately contact the DVLA to follow up on the transfer status. While waiting for the document, retain proof of purchase, insurance, and any records of communication with the previous owner to ensure you can drive legally in the interim.It’s crucial to avoid driving an untaxed vehicle during this period to prevent potential fines or penalties.

What to do if you are a victim of a car tax scam

Car tax scams can be distressing, but knowing how to respond is crucial. If you suspect you’ve been defrauded, report the incident to local authorities and the DVLA immediately. Provide all relevant information and details of the scam. In the meantime, cease any further communication or transactions with the scammer.To avoid such scams, always verify the legitimacy of the seller, double-check the V5C document, and be cautious of offers that seem too good to be true. Staying vigilant and conducting due diligence is your best defense against car tax scams in the UK.


In summary, understanding road tax transfer is paramount when buying or selling a car in the UK. Remember, road tax is tied to the vehicle, not the owner, and it doesn’t transfer automatically. New owners must tax the vehicle in their name to avoid legal complications. Ensure a smooth transition of ownership by following proper procedures, which include timely updates to the DVLA.

We strongly encourage readers to adhere to these guidelines diligently. Failure to do so may result in fines or legal issues. Additionally, staying informed about any changes in road tax regulations is crucial to navigate the process successfully and keep your automotive transactions legally sound. Your compliance ensures a hassle-free experience when transferring road tax in the UK.

If you are buying a vehicle and want to know its tax status you can use License Whisperers free tax check tool

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