Driving a UK registered car in Mainland Europe - what evidence of current road tax do you need to carry?

This item is based on a report in the latest newsletter released by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC).

Reminder for Historic vehicle keepers
You will also need to carry evidence that the vehicle has a current road tax even though the car is VED exempt. You will see alongside that the first line in the tabulated report says "12 month rate - £0.00" because it is a VED exempt car. Further down the report it says "Vehicle status - tax not due". When you printout the page your computer will put a current date at the foot of the sheet.

For members going through the VED exemption process - a tax class change from PLG to Historic and then an application for a NIL value VED - you will see that this car secured Historic tax class status earlier and the year of manufacture is shown as 1973.

Tip when using the Vehicle Enquiry Service on the GOV.UK website
DVLA say you need to enter the "registration number in a valid format" - if you do not a red warning pops up saying just that blocking a search. So for registration plates in the 1970s the correct format is MGG 88M - a space between the letters and number but no space between the numbers and the "year letter", in this case "M".

Updated: 151129
Contributor: FBHVC
Posted: 150216

What evidence of current road tax does a UK vehicle owner have when driving in Mainland Europe?
With the end of the paper tax disc in the UK in October 2014, the primary route for checking the current road tax status of a UK registered vehicle is the Vehicle Enquiry System on the GOV.UK website. That website is being improved and has been running as a Beta site. In the latest newsletter from the Federation of Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) highlights concerns over "longstanding known errors in the data held by DVLA, especially for historic vehicles". They then raise an important concern for UK vehicle owners taking their cars abroad - will law enforcement officers in Mainland Europe recognise the new position where UK vehicle keepers have no documentary proof of the existence of valid road tax?

The FBHVC say "the position of DVLA is clear. They have notified our EU partners of the change and they think that exhausts their legal obligations. They are probably right. So our advice to members is that it would be prudent to carry the best available evidence". But what is that?

Documentary proof on an online VED renewal
On completing an online VED renewal using the GOV.UK website that evidence is probably the confirmation page which appears at the conclusion of the online taxation process. It can be printed off and does carry the required information in a pretty clear format.

Checking the current VED and MOT status using the GOV.UK Vehicle Enquiry System website
You can run an online enquiry for your current VED status and expiry date using the GOV.UK Vehicle Enquiry System which shows whether car is currently taxed (on the date of the online enquiry) but probably more useful when driving abroad it also shows the expiry date when the next tax is
due - in the example above the next tax is on 1st April 2015. The enquiry also shows whether the car has a current MOT and the expiry date. This page has the official GOV.UK header so it would be worth printing off so you could carry the copy of the Vehicle Enquiry report in your car.

But that is fine for members willing to renew their VED online or make a vehicle enquiry online but there are many UK vehicle keepers who prefer to renew at their Post Office or even consider that we ought to use the Post Office service to keep our local Post Office branch going for all the other useful services they provide!

Documentary evidence of a VED renewal at a Post Office
The FBHVC says "despite the suggestion we had received from a few members just after the changeover, the Post Office always prints out a till receipt. That is the case even if the vehicle is exempt from VED when the till receipt should show a "Nil Value". The counter clerk should always hand the till receipt (even if it is a Nil Value) to the applicant". So the clear recommendation is the till receipt should be accepted from the Post Office counter clerk as they complete the VED renewal process and carefully retained. Be ready to ask for a Post Office till receipt before you leave the counter and preferably have it stapled to the VED renewal notice too.

There is however still some doubt whether a law enforcement officer in Mainland Europe will find a printout of a GOV.UK webpage or a Post Office till receipt sufficient evidence that a UK registered car has a current road tax. The FBHVC news item concludes with - "UK keepers of a a UK registered vehicle who might be taking their vehicles abroad should really give consideration to whether using the GOV.UK online system, with its clear A4 size final confirmation page, is preferable to the Post Office till receipt".