Car tax refunds: what you need to know

Last updated April 30, 2021

Ensuring your car is properly taxed is a vital part of car ownership, adding to the funds available to the government to maintain and improve our vast network of roads and motorways, as well as paying contributions based on the number of carbon emissions your vehicle produces. However, as car tax is usually paid in blocks of 6 or 12 months, it’s not uncommon for car owners to pay for months in advance, only to require just a couple of month’s coverage. If this is a situation you’re currently in, you’ll be pleased to know that you can get a refund when you cancel your car tax, getting money back for any unused months. In this guide, you’ll find out more about the DVLA car tax refund, as well as uncovering how you can follow the simple steps required to process your refund.

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What is a car tax refund?

A car tax refund is a way of reclaiming some of the money you have spent on a 6 or 12 month period of car tax coverage.

Refunds are commonly claimed when the taxed car has been sold or transferred to another owner, taken off the road and registered with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), written off, scrapped or in rarer cases, stolen, exported or even registered as exempt from vehicle tax.

Refunds can only be given for full months of remaining tax coverage; for example, if you had paid for 6 month’s car tax coverage and are 2.5 months into that period, you may only claim a refund for the 3 whole months of remaining coverage.

How to cancel road tax and get a refund

Claiming a car tax refund is a simple process, however there are only certain situations in which you are eligible to claim one. These are:

  • If you sell your car or transfer it to a new owner
  • The vehicle has been exported from the UK
  • Your insurance company has ‘written off’ the vehicle
  • The vehicle has been scrapped at a scrapyard
  • The vehicle has been stolen
  • The vehicle has been registered as exempt from vehicle tax
  • Your vehicle has been registered with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN)

As stated on the website, there are no other circumstances in which you can cancel your vehicle tax and claim a refund on the remaining period.

If your situation matches those listed above, then you can begin the car tax refund process by informing the DVLA of your circumstances. Then, the DVLA will cancel your car tax coverage, as well as any outstanding Direct Debits you have set up to pay the tax.

You can contact the DVLA using the contact details listed at the bottom of this guide. The DVLA list the processing time for a car tax refund as 6 weeks, so don’t worry if your refund doesn’t arrive straight away and allow 6 weeks before you contact them again to chase-up the refund.

After informing the DVLA of your change in status and requesting a car tax refund, you’ll receive a cheque, which is sent to the name and address registered on the vehicle’s logbook. The refund is calculated by the DVLA based on the amount you paid for the current tax period and how many whole months there are remaining of the period.

It’s also worthwhile to know that you won’t receive a refund on the 5% surcharge on some direct debit payments, the 10% surcharge on single 6 month payments, or any additional fees encountered by those paying with credit cards.

How to contact the DVLA

To cancel your road tax and claim a refund, you’ll need to contact the DVLA and inform them of your car’s change of status (providing it falls in-line with the eligible criteria listed above, under ‘how to refund car tax’). You can contact the DVLA by phone, email service or post, all of which are listed below. DVLA car tax refunds take up to 6 weeks to process, so be sure to allow adequate time before contacting them again regarding the application.

  • Phone

    You can call the DVLA regarding vehicle tax enquiries on 0300 790 6802.

    Phone line opening hours are listed as:

    Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm

    Saturday, 8am to 2pm

    There are various call charges listed on their website, so be sure to take a look before making a call.

  • Email

    The DVLA email enquiry service isn’t as straight-forward as a simple email address, however their website’s enquiry process is thankfully still fairly simple.

    Click here to access their enquiries page, and then simply select the options related to your car tax refund; that will take you to the relevant contact page, where you can send your email enquiry.

  • Post

    You can mail your enquiry to the DVLA at the following postal address; be sure to include details of your car’s change of status, and your request for a car tax refund.

    • Vehicle Customer Services
    • DVLA
    • Swansea
    • SA99 1AR