Motorbike tax guide

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) applies to motorcycles as well as cars. Find out how to pay and how much it’ll cost for your bike.

gocompare author
Updated 14 June 2021  | 3 min read

What is motorbike tax?

Vehicle tax, or Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), is a tax levied by the government on every vehicle on the road, including motorbikes.

It needs to be renewed every year and the money raised goes towards the building and repair of the UK’s road system.

Key points

  • You need to tax your motorbike before you can use it on the road
  • The tax you pay depends on the size of your bike’s engine - larger-engined bikes are more expensive
  • You may be exempt if you have a disability or your bike might be exempt if it’s electric

Motorcycle tax – often called road tax – is calculated depending on the engine size of your bike.

You’ll be fined if you’re caught riding without tax.

Do I need motorbike road tax?

Yes. As well as being insured and registered with the DVLA, all motorcycles used, or kept, on public roads must be taxed. It’s illegal to ride an untaxed motorbike.

Even if you’re exempt from paying VED, for instance if you have a disability, you still need to apply to the DVLA to tax your motorbike every year.

If you’re taking your bike off the road and out of use, you can stop taxing it. But you need to make a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) to the DVLA. You’ll need to tax your motorcycle again before it can go back on the road.

How much does motorcycle tax cost?

Cars are taxed according to how much CO2 they produce, when they were registered and the engine size. Motorcycle tax is a bit simpler and only depends 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) and you’ll find the latest motorbike tax rates here.

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

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

If you don’t pay annually, or by Direct Debit, that surcharge is 10%:

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
Not over 150 £21 £21 £22.05 N/A N/A
151-400 £45 £45 £47.25 N/A N/A
401-600 £69 £69 £72.45 £37.95 £36.23
Over 600 £96 £96 £100.80 £52.80 £50.40

What documents do you need to tax a bike?

When your bike tax is due, DVLA will send you a reminder letter (V11) with a 16 digit reference number from the DVLA). If you can’t find your reminder, you’ll need your V5C Vehicle Registration Certificate (logbook).

If you’ve just bought the bike and don’t yet have the V5C logbook 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 logbook before you tax your motorbike

As well as having these documents to buy your tax, you’ll only be able to tax a motorbike that has:

Motorbike tax exemptions

Some people are exempt from paying vehicle tax. You’ll still need to apply for vehicle tax every year when you get your reminder from the DVLA. But you will not have to pay for it.

You can apply to be exempt from vehicle tax if you have a disability. Check here to see if you qualify.

Even if you’re not personally exempt, your motorbike might be if:

  • It’s a classic bike – built 40 years or more ago (unless it’s used commercially for trade or business purposes)
  • It’s an electric vehicle. For it to be exempt, the government says that the vehicle’s electricity ‘must come from an external source or an electric storage battery not connected to any source of power when the vehicle is moving'. Hybrid motorbikes are not exempt.

How to pay or apply for motorcycle tax

  1. Gov website: Pay online by debit or credit card or set up a Direct Debit.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Is my bike already taxed?

You can check your bike’s tax – as well as its MOT and SORN – status via the website.

All you need is the vehicle’s registration number (its number plate).

If it’s taxed, the website page will show you when your tax is next due.

If you need to renew your bike’s tax, key in the 11-digit reference number from your V5C log book to view the tax rates for the vehicle.

If you have just bought a bike, the tax paid on it is not transferred to you. You’ll need to tax it yourself before riding it.

Can I get a refund on motorbike tax?

Yes. In some circumstances you’ll be able to cancel your motorbike tax and get a refund. These include:

  • Selling your bike or transferring ownership to someone else.
  • Taking your bike off the road with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).
  • If your bike has been written off or scrapped by your insurance company.
  • You export your bike out of the UK

You should inform the DVLA of any of these changes and they will send you a cheque for any full months that are left on your tax.