Last updated April 5th, 2023
Most vehicles cannot be taxed without a valid MOT certificate.
The gov.uk website will check whether your vehicle has a valid MOT before allowing you to pay for your car tax online. If you choose to tax your car at your local Post Office, the clerk will also check its MOT status before allowing you to proceed.
The annual MOT test is a legal requirement for most cars over three years old. The MOT test is in place to help ensure that all vehicles on the road are safe, roadworthy and produce acceptable exhaust emissions.
Therefore, in the interest of road safety (and the environment), the DVLA has set the requirement that most drivers must hold a valid MOT certificate for their vehicle before purchasing or renewing road tax.
There are certain circumstances in which you do not need an MOT to tax your car:
If your car is over 40 years old and has classic car tax exemption, you will still need to tax your car, but it will not cost you anything – and you will not require an MOT certificate to do so.
If your MOT has expired, you can request a car tax refund from the DVLA for any full months’ tax you have remaining on your vehicle.
Remember, you cannot drive your vehicle (or leave it parked on a public road) until you have obtained a valid MOT certificate – and renewed your car tax. If you intend to take your vehicle off the road (or scrap your car), you must first make a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification).
If your MOT has expired, you will not be able to renew your car tax until you obtain a valid MOT certificate. To renew car tax for an MOT-less vehicle, you must:
Make a SORN, informing the DVLA that you are taking the vehicle off the road.
Book an MOT test at a local approved MOT test centre.
Once your vehicle (hopefully) passes its MOT test, you should then be able to tax your car.
Unsure whether your car is MOT ready? Use our comprehensive MOT checklist to bring your car up to scratch ahead of its test!
You may be wondering; can you insure your car without an MOT? Technically, the answer is yes.
However, you cannot drive the vehicle (or even park it on a public road) until you have arranged valid insurance. If you do not intend to use your vehicle on the road, you still need to make a SORN to remain compliant.
If you are caught driving without car tax, an automated letter and a fine will be sent to the address of the vehicle’s registered keeper. This will usually be an £80 fine, reduced to £40 if you pay within 28 days.
If you are caught driving without an MOT, you may be given a police caution.
However, if the police discover that one or more ‘dangerous’ faults highlighted during a previous MOT test have not been rectified, you could also receive a fine up of up to £2,500, in addition to points on your licence – or even a driving disqualification.
To tax your car, you will need an MOT certificate that is valid on the start date of your vehicle tax (or the date when it is issued).
If your current MOT expires before either of these dates, you will not be able to tax your vehicle until you have obtained a new MOT certificate. Therefore, in this case, you should arrange an MOT test as soon as possible so that you can tax your car before it runs out of MOT cover.