Paper tax discs are now extinct: A guide on the new system

A NEW vehicle duty system has started today but how much do Britain's 30 million motorists know about it?

The tax disc system is changing yet again - but how much do you know about it?[ALAMY]

Why is this being done?

Last year alone 42.2 million tax discs were issued, weighing in at 72 tonnes, which is heavier than a Challenger 2 tank. Abolishing discs will save the taxpayer £10million a year in printing and postage costs according to the DVLA. It is also predicted that it will save businesses millions of pounds in administrative costs every year.

What do I have to do?

AS you are no longer required to display your tax disc you may remove it from your windscreen from October 1 and destroy it, even if it still has some months to run.

To drive or keep a vehicle on the road you will still need to pay vehicle tax and the DVLA will still send you a renewal reminder when your vehicle tax is due to expire.

What happens if my disc is due to expire between now and October 1?

YOU should apply for a new one in the usual way. The DVLA is running down its stock of pre-printed discs to ensure there is no wastage and is printing them in-house until October 1.

It says it has informed the police and other enforcement authorities that it has issued these new-look discs but adds that the paper one is no longer relied upon to check whether a vehicle is taxed.

Without a disc how will the police know if an owner is up to date with payments?

AUTOMATIC Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras will be used to establish whether or not a vehicle is taxed. If the correct tax has not been paid details of the registered owner will be passed to the DVLA, which will issue a fine.

Who stands to lose out from the new system? people most likely to be THE people most likely to be affected are those who are buying and selling second-hand cars privately - which is the case in a total of around seven million transactions a year.

A tax disc expiry date months down the line has traditionally been a consideration for buyers when choosing a vehicle as unexpired tax discs are transferred on the sale of it but this will not be the case as of October 1.

Under the new regime all buyers will have to tax their vehicle immediately after purchase - that is before even taking it home - or they will risk being caught driving an untaxed car.

This can be done online by going to, over the phone by calling 0300 123 4321, or over the counter at a branch of the Post Office.

Will sellers lose unexpired tax disc months?

NO, if a vehicle is sold with unexpired tax the seller will automatically receive a refund for all full calendar months remaining when the change of ownership document has been processed by the DVLA.

What's the best source to consult for information on the new system?

DRIVERS can check whether or not their vehicle is registered at

Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras will pick up untaxed vehicles from October 1 [ALAMY]

With the scrapping of the car tax disc less than six weeks away far too many drivers remain in the dark

Paul Watters, head of AA Roads Policy

What do the experts think?

PAUL WATTERS, head of AA Roads Policy: "With the scrapping of the car tax disc less than six weeks away far too many drivers remain in the dark.

"New data just released from an AA Populus Poll shows that 42 per cent do not know that from October this year drivers

do not have to display a tax disc in the windscreen. Another 51 per cent do not know that when you pass a car on after October you will not be able to pass over any unexpired tax on the disc.

"And 60 per cent do not know that the registered keeper of a vehicle will automatically get a refund of unexpired complete months whenever they pass on a vehicle.

"We know from an earlier poll that abolition of the disc is supported by 46 per cent of members and that half of them strongly support this, however this latest poll worries us.

"Clearly drivers must be better informed about this massive change to the way in which we tax our cars."

NAT BARNES, Daily Express Motoring Editor. "The DVLA is keeping noticeably quiet about [the fact that] those selling their cars at the start of the month will lose 30 days' of tax.

"Refunds are only issued for full calendar months, so the seller will lose that month but the new buyer will have to pay it again, meaning the DVLA is quids in.

"That could be up to £80 extra that the DVLA earns per used car transaction. Multiply that by the seven million-odd UK used-car transactions each year and once again British motorists are being unfairly hit in the wallet.

"Another problem is that, at present, any passing police officer on foot can instantly tell if a car is untaxed or not.

"Under the new system, it will be solely dependent on the automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras and the already over-worked traffic police.

"It also risks criminalising a tranche of law-abiding but non-computer-literate drivers who don't know, or understand, the new system - particularly when buying their next used car."

PHILIP HANKINSON, director of the UK's leading tyre distributor Tyre Giant: "The new ruling has a huge impact on those buying and selling cars, as vehicle tax cannot be transferred to the new owner.

"It is important that all car owners register their details and pay their tax via the new system to avoid being hit with hefty fines."

It became compulsory to display a tax disc to show proof of payment in 1921 [ALAMY]

A journey through the ages

1889 Vehicle Excise Duty is introduced

1921 It becomes compulsory to display a black and white circular tax disc to show proof of payment. Drivers can buy one for one year or three months

1923 Tax discs are produced in colour for the first time 1924 Advertising is introduced on the reverse side of the disc, with companies such as Shell paying for ads. This practice ended in

1926 when ads on the back were replaced by text relating to refunds on unexpired licences

2001 Watermarking and embossing is introduced to make life more difficult for counterfeiters

2003 A bar code is incorporated into the design to help increase efficiency of renewal applications as online renewal is introduced

2006 A book called Trade And Collect Tax Discs by Tony Hill (who went on to write Creating Realistic Landscapes For Model Railways) is published.

Collecting old tax discs is known as velology and rare ones command sums between £200 and £300, according to, which reports that the current world record price is £810.30 for a very rare December 1921 quarterly issue.

Tax disc aficionados have their work cut out tracing discs from 1923 onwards as the rules were changed so that expired tax discs had to be destroyed.

2014 The paper tax disc is to be scrapped on October 1 and replaced by an electronic surveillance system.

More than 1.7 billion discs have been issued since 1921 and if they were all to be put in a line they would go around the world three times.


Category: Taxes

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