Could You Get Caught Out & Clamped By Recent Changes to DVLA Vehicle Tax Rules?

On 1st October 2014 there were some changes to vehicle tax rules:

  • The paper tax disc was phased out and no longer needs to be displayed.
  • Records of vehicle taxation are now held electronically.
  • Direct Debit was introduced an additional payment method, with auto-renewal incorporated into the system.

One change that was poorly advertised is that when you buy a second-hand car, any tax that has already been paid is no longer transferred with the vehicle.  Even if you see a tax disc on display dated for later this year or the seller assures you that the tax has been paid until a certain date, that tax is cancelled by the DVLA when the car transfers to you, leaving the car untaxed.   Any excess tax the seller paid is refunded to them.

When you buy a car, it is therefore in a untaxed state and vehicle tax has to be paid to the DVLA before you can use it on the roads.

Consumer programmes have been reporting cases where people got caught out by the new rules and had a nasty shock when they found their car had been clamped.  An article in The Guardian suggests that there may have been up to a 60% rise in car clamping by the DVLA and cites one instance where the fees exceeded £800.

This is disappointing given that the apparent lack of advertising by the DVLA of this specific change & its implications for those buying & selling cars.  Certainly the first I heard of this was not, as one might expect, a letter or email from the DVLA advising me of the fact that tax would no longer be transferred during vehicle sales, but rather the unfortunate tale on one of the consumer programmes of someone who had been caught out by the change in the rules.

At the very least, this gives the impression that the DVLA has been somewhat negligent in terms of keeping road users informed.  Of course, the combination of failing to adequately advertise the change followed by an apparent clamping spree, might make a mind more cynical than my own wonder if someone at the DVLA saw an opportunity to top up the coffers.