View Idea

Road Tax - Allow a 7 day grace period after contacting DVLA

Reference ID:

Department Responsible:
Department for Transport

Problem Description:
I bought a car 2 days ago. I rang my insurer, got insured and made my way to the dealer to pick up my vehicle. I tried to get him to tax the car on my behalf but he told me that DVLA no longer allow this. I ring the DVLA on the spot but they tell me I cant tax it because I'm not the registered keeper and they can only update my details by post. So I risk it for a biscuit and make my way home with no car tax.

The next morning my cover note hasn't arrived. I got a lift in to work from my partner and all was good.

The next day I'm getting quite worried because I need to drive my car to Manchester at the weekend and my cover note still hasn't turned up. Another lift to work.

The day after that still no cover note. Ring insurer, they say it may take up to 5 working days. Ask if they'll fax it to me, they say yes. Ring post office, they won't accept a fax. Ring DVLA. A very rude woman who obviously takes hundreds of these calls a day keeps repeating to me that 'its the law, until it changes its the law... if you drive your car you can get a fine... if you leave it on the road the council can take it away... there's nothing else you can do' etc etc.

The frustrating thing is that I feel like I'm trying to throw money at the DVLA and they don't want to know. Why do they make honest people jump through hoops and even commit minor crimes to get round their badly written rules and regulations?

This problem is caused by conflicting regulations or guidance.

Proposed solution:
I think you should be able to contact DVLA and ask for a 7 day grace period when buying a new car. There's an online insurance database now so there's really no excuse.

Could you just imagine the hassle if I really needed the car for work, or I needed it to take my kids to school, or I didn't have a private driveway to put it in?

The penalties for 'car tax evasion' are high and widely publicised, but why do these penalties apply to honest people who are doing everything but 'evading' car tax?

Cost or time incurred:
This would save millions of British motorists a large amount of grief and potential unfair prosecution every year.

Department for Transport

Private Sector

Transport and infrastructure , Multiple

Official response

Thank you for your Better Regulation Proposal about licensing newly purchased vehicles. Your proposal has been passed to the Policy and External Communications Directorate within the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport, for consideration. In making this assessment we have considered the proposal and taken advice from policy officials.

You have suggested that, when purchasing a new vehicle, keepers be given a seven day period of grace in which to obtain a tax disc, thereby allowing them sufficient time to get their paperwork in order.

We have determined that your proposal should not be taken forward. DVLA advises customers buying a vehicle to make arrangements to tax the vehicle before taking collection. The tax disc can then be displayed on the vehicle when collection takes place.

The Motor Vehicles (Third Party Risks) Regulations 1972 require the production of a certificate indicating that valid insurance is in force when applying for a tax disc. For applications made at a DVLA Local Office or Post Office® this must be in the form of an insurance certificate or cover note. Faxed copies of insurance certificates are not acceptable for the purposes of taxing a vehicle as these would undermine the effectiveness of the current checks, and increase the possibility of false documents being presented.

DVLA does allow motor traders to tax a vehicle on a customers’ behalf, but only when they are able to produce the relevant MoT for the vehicle and an appropriate insurance certificate for the new keeper. It is not acceptable for motor traders to use their traders insurance to tax vehicles for customers.

You mention the existence of the on-line insurance database maintained by the Motor Insurers Bureau, which is used to underpin the Electronic Vehicle Licensing arrangements. However, this database is not updated in real time, so it would not facilitate a check of the insurance status of a newly acquired vehicle.

Also, allowing new keepers a period of grace in which to use an unlicensed vehicle would be unacceptable. The exemption would be difficult to enforce and could also be seen to be encouraging unlicensed driving. It could result in a considerable increase in time consuming checks for the Police, the additional costs of which would have to be passed to the taxpayer.

All, this said, DVLA does appreciate the frustration of motorists waiting for a certificate of insurance to be sent in the post, knowing that the necessary cover is in place. In light of this you will be interested to know that a change in the law is being considered to allow certificates that have been delivered electronically and downloaded by customers to be accepted when taxing a vehicle. Regulations are currently being drafted and this facility should be available in 2009.

I hope this explains the position, and we would like to extend our thanks for the time and effort you taken to participate in this process.