Is my motorbike taxed?

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 26 October 2022  | 4 mins read

Just like cars, motorbikes used or kept on public roads need to be taxed.

It’s illegal to ride a motorcycle without vehicle tax. If you’re caught, you could face a fine, court action and have your bike impounded.

It’s easy to find out online if your motorbike tax is up to date and how to renew it, should you need to.

Key points

  • Any motorbike used or kept on a public road needs to be taxed
  • You may be exempt from paying VED (Vehicle Excise Duty), for instance if you have a disability or ride an electric motorbike - but you still need to apply to the DVLA to tax your vehicle every year
  • The amount of tax you pay depends on the size of your bike’s engine

How can I check if my motorbike is taxed?

The government levies vehicle tax, also called Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), on every vehicle on the road.

The money raised is used by the government to fund things like the building and repair of the UK’s road system.

You need to renew your motorbike vehicle tax every year or face a fine.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) sends out a reminder letter (V11) a few weeks before your vehicle tax is up for renewal.

You can check if your vehicle tax is up to date, and when it’s due for renewal, on the government website’s vehicle enquiry service.

Simply key in your motorbike number plate (vehicle registration number) and confirm the make and model. Results will show if your motorbike tax is up to date, plus when it’s due for renewal.

It will also let you know when your next MOT is due (you need a valid MOT in order to tax your bike if it’s over three years old).

What’s a SORN?

If you’re taking your bike off the road and out of use, you can stop taxing it. But you need to register your vehicle as off the road with the DVLA.

This is called making a ‘Statutory Off Road Notification’ (SORN).

Once you’ve made a SORN, you can’t use your motorbike on any public roads, not even for a short trip or an emergency. The only exception is if you’re riding your bike to or from a pre-booked MOT appointment. Remember that you will need to have insurance in place in order to be covered in the eventuality of an accident.

Otherwise, you could face prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500.

Plus, with a SORN in place, you’re not allowed to leave your bike parked on a public road. Instead, you must store it somewhere off-road, like a garage, or your private driveway.

You can make a SORN online, using the 16-digit number on your vehicle tax reminder letter (V11) or the 11-digit number in your vehicle log book (V5C).

You’ll need to tax your motorcycle again before it can go back on the road.

When would a motorbike be tax-exempt?

There are some circumstances when you may be exempt from paying vehicle tax on your bike. For example if:

  • You have a disability
  • You own a classic bike built more than 40 years ago
  • You have an electric bike

Importantly, though, even if you’re exempt from paying VED, you still need to apply to the DVLA to tax your vehicle every year. The difference is that you won’t have to pay for it.

How do I pay my motorbike tax?

You can tax your motorbike online via the government website, at a Post Office or by phone.

  • Online: Pay online on the government website by debit or credit card or set up a Direct Debit
  • Phone: Contact the DVLA Vehicle Tax Service on 0300 123 4321. You can’t set up a Direct Debit over the phone, but you can pay with a credit or debit card
  • Post Office: Take your documents with you to a Post Office that deals with vehicle tax and pay over the counter or set up a Direct Debit

What documents will I need?

You’ll need your V11 reminder letter from the DVLA with your unique 16-digit reference number.

Can’t find the reminder letter? Then you need your V5C Vehicle Registration Certificate (log book).

If you’ve just bought the bike and don’t yet have the V5C log book in your name, you’ll need to quote the 12-digit reference on the green new keeper slip (V5C/2).

If you don’t have any of these documents, you’ll need to apply for a new log book before you can tax your motorbike. The service usually costs £25.

To tax your bike, you’ll also need valid motorbike insurance in place, plus a valid MOT if your bike is over three years old.

The insurance and MOT information on your bike will show up on the DVLA’s database if you tax your bike online.

If you’re going to the Post Office to do it, you’ll need to take along the MOT certificate plus a valid exemption certificate if you claim disabled vehicle tax.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you must also bring a current motorbike insurance certificate.

How much is road tax on a bike?

Motorbikes are taxed differently to cars.

Cars are taxed according to a few things, like how much CO2 they produce, their fuel type, engine size and when they were produced.

But the cost of motorcycle tax depends only on the size of your bike’s engine (cc). The larger the engine size, the more you pay.

You can check your bike’s engine size on its vehicle registration certificate (V5C).

The cheapest way to pay motorbike vehicle tax is as a single yearly payment.

If you pay by Direct Debit in monthly instalments, or every six months, there’s a 5% surcharge.

Current rates are below:

Engine size (cc) Single 12-month payment Single 12-month payment by Direct Debit Total of 12 monthly instalments by Direct Debit Single six-month payment Six months by Direct Debit
Under 150 £22 £22 £23.10 N/A N/A
151-400 £47 £47 £49.35 N/A N/A
401-600 £73 £73 £76.65 £40.15 £38.33
Over 600 £101 £101 £106.05 £55.55 £53.03

How much is vehicle tax for a moped or scooter?

It depends on the exact size of the engine.

Mopeds have small engines, usually no bigger than 50cc. So they fall into the lowest, and cheapest, tax bracket - currently £22 a year.

Scooters have different engine sizes, usually from 50cc to 250cc, though some may have engines up to 600cc or more. The road tax payable depends on the size of your particular scooter’s engine.

Can I drive without paying my motorbike tax?

The law clearly states that if you’re using your motorcycle, or keeping it on a public road, you must tax it.

Vehicle tax evasion is against the law. It can result in a fine, court action and the risk of having your motorbike clamped or impounded.

Do I have to pay tax on electric motorbike?

Electric motorbikes and scooters are exempt from paying road tax just as electric cars are, you’ll still need to apply for tax though.

If you ride a hybrid bike, you’re charged based on engine size.

What if I’m disabled?

You may not have to pay car tax if you’re disabled. The vehicle must be registered in the disabled person’s or their nominated driver’s name.

You can apply for exemption for your vehicle if you receive any of the following benefits:

  • higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA)
  • enhanced rate mobility component of personal independence payment (PIP)
  • enhanced rate mobility component of adult disability payment (ADP)
  • higher rate mobility component of child disability payment
  • War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

There’s more information on the government’s website.

What happens to the tax if I sell my motorbike?

Any remaining tax on your bike won’t transfer to the new owner when you sell it. Instead, you can get a partial refund.

Let the DVLA know you’ve sold the bike and they’ll send out a cheque for any full months remaining on your vehicle tax. If you pay by Direct Debit it’ll be cancelled automatically once the DVLA knows.

The new owner will need to tax the bike before they ride it.

What if my bike is written off?

You need to let the DVLA know if your vehicle has been written off by your insurance company. You can do this online.

Again, you’ll get a refund for any full months left on your vehicle tax.