Since October 1st this year DVLA has ceased to issue paper tax discs. In place of the old disc, DVLA will maintain an electronic database of who has paid for road tax – if you haven’t, you face a £1000 fine. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras will pick up the vehicles that are not taxed, although The Independent newspaper has quoted a Home Office presentation that apparently reveals that ANPR cameras misread about 4% of plates (approximately 1.2 million per day)!
The change in the system will be felt the most by those buying or selling a vehicle. Road tax will no longer be permitted to be transferred with the vehicle. So if John sells his car with 3 months of road tax left, Michael (who buys the car) cannot negotiation the remaining 3 months with the price of the car. John will have to apply to DVLA for a refund of the remaining period and Michael will have to take out new road tax in his own name. John will also have to notify DVLA of the same immediately, or risk a fine if he fails to do so. It will almost certainly complicate things for people who want to assign or transfer a personalised registration and buy a new car at the same time – time will tell just how trying this will prove to be.
DVLA claims that the change was brought about in order to streamline the service and to “save British businesses millions of pounds a year in administrative bills”. The fact that the cost of road tax can now be spread out and paid by direct debit will be a help to many people. On the downside, the Sunday Times says that the new system will help car thieves because there will no longer be a tax disc that needs to match the number plates and so it will be easier for them to disguise a stolen vehicle.
The DVLA site struggled to cope and faced a number of problems when the new system came into effect; the BBC reported that “thousands of customers were unable to renew their car tax online” and reported that some people spent as long as 13 hours attempting to do so. DVLA confirm that it is now operating normally.