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Forgetting to renew car insurance, tax and MOT

What if I forget to renew my car insurance, tax and MOT?

Mehdi Punjwani
Written by  Mehdi Punjwani
Donna McConnell
Reviewed by  Donna McConnell
4 min read
Updated: 16 Jan 2024

If you forget to renew your car insurance, tax, or MOT certificate, you’ll need to arrange it as soon as possible or face potential fines and convictions if you drive your car without. Here’s what you need to know about renewing your car insurance, tax, and MOT.

What happens if I forgot to renew my car insurance? 

If you drive without valid insurance you’ll be committing an offence, so if you forget to renew your insurance you won’t be able to use your car until it’s been restored. 

Is there a fine for driving without insurance? 

Yes, you risk a fine of £300 as well as six points on your licence and an IN10 conviction. If your case goes to court it could lead to a further unlimited fine or even disqualification from driving. 

Keep in mind that an IN10 conviction also makes it difficult to get car insurance in the future due to your elevated claim risk - and even if you do, it’ll likely be more expensive than average. It’s easy to check your car’s insurance status if you’re unsure of when it’s time to renew. 

Does car insurance automatically renew? 

Most providers offer auto-renewals on your car insurance policy, so you don’t need to worry about sorting it out yourself. However, you may be able to get a better deal on your policy if you compare instead of renewing - just be sure your new policy is active when your existing cover expires. 

When can I drive without insurance? 

You can only drive a car without valid insurance if you’ve completed and declared it SORN-  SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification - and you’re taking it to or from a pre-booked MOT exam. If you're not sure whether your vehicle is covered, you can check to see if your car is insured online.

What happens if I forget to tax my car? 

A late licensing penalty (LLP) letter is issued automatically. You will have to pay £80 reduced to £40 if paid within 33 days. Driving without paying car tax is illegal unless you’re exempt, so for example if you drive an older car or an electric car, or you’re a disabled driver. If you aren’t going to pay your car tax, you’ll need to declare your car as off-road with a SORN - so you won’t be able to drive or park it on public roads. 

Is there a fine for driving without tax? 

Driving without paying road tax can lead to an out of court settlement (OCS) of £30 plus one and a half times the outstanding vehicle tax. However, if the OCS is not paid, a criminal case may be pursued through the magistrates’ court. The penalty is either £1,000 or five times the amount of tax chargeable, whichever is greater. If you don’t pay this your car may be clamped or crushed. You should get a reminder from the DVLA when you’re due to pay road tax, so be sure to take action as early as possible. 

Is there a grace period for taxing your car? 

There is no longer a grace period for taxing your car, as the whole process is kept and managed online rather than through the mail with paper tax discs. The grace period that was previously in place was to allow time for postage. 

Can you get caught on road cameras without valid tax? 

Most speed cameras only have the technology to detect motorists going over the speed limit. However, some are equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology (ANPR) which can check number plates against road tax and insurance records with the DVLA. These cameras can indeed catch drivers on the road without valid insurance, tax or MOT on their car. 

Does car tax automatically renew? 

You can set your car tax payments up to be paid by direct debit so it goes through automatically every year. Instead of a reminder to pay your tax you’ll get an email or post to let you know the payment has been taken. 

If you don’t have a direct debit set up you’ll need to renew it online - you’ll need your car tax reference number, which you can find on your car’s V5C logbook or any communication from the DVLA. 

What happens if my direct debit doesn’t go through? 

If your direct debit doesn’t go through, you’ll receive an email from the DVLA to inform you - they’ll try to take the payment again within the next four days, and if it fails again it’ll be cancelled. If this happens, your car will no longer be taxed and you’ll either need to renew it online or declare it SORN. 

Can I tax my car without a V5 logbook? 

No, you’ll need your V5C logbook to renew your car tax. If you don’t have it, you can replace it online or at the Post Office.  

woman doing paperwork

What happens if I forget to renew my MOT? 

If you forget to renew your MOT and you aren’t exempt (if your car is under three years old or first built over 40 years ago), you’ll only be able to drive it to and from a garage for repairs, or to a pre-booked MOT exam. Otherwise, your car cannot be driven or parked on UK roads. 

Is there a fine for driving without a valid MOT? 

Yes, you could be fined up to £1,000 for driving without an MOT - you may even be prosecuted. Your insurance will be invalid if you drive without an MOT, so if you have an accident you won’t be able to claim. 

Is there a grace period for renewing your MOT? 

There is no grace period for renewing your MOT, so you’ll need to book a test before it expires. You should do this up to 29 days before it expires to avoid losing any remaining days on the current MOT certificate.  

Can I get car tax without a valid MOT? 

No, you cannot tax your car unless it has a valid MOT certificate.  

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