The guide to bike tax

Last updated by on July 7th, 2020

Like motorbike insurance, motorbike tax is a legal requirement and another one of those pesky things that you simply have to have if you want to enjoy riding or parking your bike on public roads.

To make sure you understand the law on bike tax we answered some of the most commonly asked questions, so you don’t get caught out when it comes to renewing your road tax or buying or selling a bike.

Do all motorcycles need to be taxed?

The vast majority of bikes do need to be taxed, however there are some exceptions.

If you have an electric motorcycle or scooter you don’t need to pay road tax, as long as the electricity comes from an external source or an electric storage battery that isn’t connected to a power source while moving.

You also don’t need to pay tax on ‘historic vehicles’ made before 1 January 1977.

If you have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) for your bike, you are also exempt from paying road tax as well as vehicle insurance, but remember that a SORN is only valid for 12 months and must be applied for again when it expires.

What documents do I need?

If your motorbike is under three years old then you’ll need the registration document (also known as a V5C) and proof of your insurance.

If your motorbike is over three years old then you will also need a valid MOT certificate to prove the bike is roadworthy.

You’ll also need to provide your tax reference number which can be found either on your most recent reminder letter (V11) from the DVLA, in your bike’s log book (V5C), or from the green ‘new keeper’s details’ slip (V5C/2) if you bought the bike second hand.

If you don’t have any of these documents you will need to apply for a new log book via the GOV.UK website. You can also apply for a new log book (V5C) form from the Post Office for a fee of £25. This will take between four and six weeks to arrive.

 How do I get my bike taxed?

There are three ways you can pay:

  • At a post office that deals with vehicle tax. You’ll need your V5 registration document or your V11 reminder letter from the DVLA.
  • Via the DVLA’s 24/7 automated phone line. You’ll need your logbook or your V5C/2 new keeper supplement during the call.
  • On the GOV.UK website. If you’re the current owner of the bike you’ll need the 11 digit reference number from your V5C. If you’re the new owner of the bike and don’t have a V5C in your name you’ll need the 12 digit reference number from the V5C/2. The DVLA will already have your insurance and current MOT certificate on record so all you need to do is fill in a few boxes and pay online.

A motorbike engine

How much does bike tax cost?

Motorcycles are taxed according to their engine size but if you chose to pay via a payment plan, the cost will be slightly more.

Annual cost:

  • Under 150cc – £18
  • 151-400cc – £41
  • 401-600cc – £62
  • Over 600cc – £85.

Can I pay in instalments?


You can now pay for your road tax via direct debit. There are three payment options:

  • Every 12 months
  • Every six months
  • Every month.

Do I still need to display a tax disc?

Since October 2014, displaying a tax disc on your bike is no longer a legal requirement.

What’s the law on taxing a previously owned bike that still has tax left on it?

Vehicle tax can no longer be carried over, so if you buy a bike that still has tax on it from the previous owner they will be responsible for cancelling the current road tax and will be entitled to a refund for any full months remaining on it.

Once you become the new registered owner of the bike it is your responsibility to ensure it’s taxed.

What happens if I don’t tax my bike?

The DVLA carries out road tax checks on a monthly basis and any vehicles found to be untaxed and not declared SORN are issued with an automatic fine of £80, although this can usually be halved if paid within 28 days. If the registered keeper fails to pay then the fine can rise to a maximum of £1,000 plus any court costs incurred.

The DVLA can also clamp your bike which means you will need to pay a £100 release fee, or purchase road tax within 24 hours. Failure to do so can result in your bike being seized and impounded.

Following these simple steps will help you avoid any fines, clamps or impoundments, meaning your only worry will be which road to take next.

You might also be interested in

How to SORN your car, van or motorbike
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