In Poland road tax is included in petrol, and standard insurance is included in the yearly mandatory car check-up. This insurance and tax does not include anything outside of Poland though.

Can I just buy a car and drive around in United Kingdom with a basic insurance level included or do I need to do something more? If there is a better option can you please explain how to do it.

  • 1
    Just for reference, as any cyclist up to date with The Issues will tell you: in the UK, "Road Tax" is a misnomer. It is a Vehicle Excise Duty. Essentially, an emissions tax. Payment for roads and other such infrastructure comes out of the Treasury's general pot o' gold, not from any specific taxation.
    – Kaz Dragon
    Mar 21, 2014 at 10:10

3 Answers 3


Yes, you need insurance, and to pay road tax. They are not included in the cost of petrol or similar.

You will need to budget for the following items in purchasing a car:

  1. Insurance. It's a legal requirement that you have insurance for your car. https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-insurance/driving-without-insurance has details.
  2. Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for the car (which you refer to as "road tax" above). https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax-rate-tables details costs, which vary with vehicle model, age, and fuel type.
  3. An MOT - effectively this is a roadworthiness inspection. This is normally done annually, but can vary depending on the age of the vehicle. It's done at local garages.
  4. If the MOT finds problems with the car, the issues will have to be fixed before the MOT is granted. This frequently means the MOT process will be significantly more expensive than the actual MOT fee. Since the garage is issuing the MOT, they have a conflict of interest.
  5. Parking costs. If you have to park on the street, you may need to apply for residents parking with your local council. You will also have ad-hoc charges on the street. This varies from council to council.
  6. Extra taxes and fees like the Congestion Charge fee, if you are driving in London.
  7. Costs associated with your personal driver's license - renewal fees, conversion of license fees, and similar.

Insurance costs can vary significantly by insurer. The most expensive quote I received was over £1,200 more (per year) than the cheapest quote I got! Use a site like http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/ to find a reasonable price.

  • There are also other companies like Direct Line that do not advertise on price comparisons sites, sometimes even local brokers can offer better deals too.
    – Piotr Kula
    Mar 20, 2014 at 23:56
  • My cheapest insurance offer (as a South African, 38 years old, male) was with Admiral. Direct Line were about twice as expensive. Aviva were about twice the cost of Direct Line (so, in other words, 4x the cost of Admiral). All quotes were for similar comprehensive cover. Mar 21, 2014 at 2:04
  • Admiral was the cheapest quote for me too, but I had to check on their site explicitly, as they didn't give a quote for my details on the comparison sites.
    – SztupY
    Mar 21, 2014 at 9:15

Yes, you need to have your car both taxed, and you need at least a valid third-party car insurance. Third-party insurance means that in case of an accident that was done by you, the damage you've done will be dealt by the insurance company, but the damage to your car will not. Third party insurance doesn't cover anything if your car is stolen, or damaged by fire.

Note that there are a lot of insurance companies in the UK, and one of the most expensive thing when starting car ownership is the insurance costs. This is especially true for someone who is not of British origin, as the companies deem them a higher risk, so they will ask for a higher premium. Also note that sometimes third-party only insurance might actually cost more than a comprehensive one, keep that in mind when checking the costs.


As already mentioned, yes you do need to have the 'Road Fund Licence' (also known as 'car tax') paid, and you need at least 'third party' insurance, to cover damage you may do to any other vehicles and/or their occupants.

As also mentioned, the insurance can be extremely expensive, in some cases costing more than the car itself (especially true if you buy a cheap second-hand car).

Another answer mentioned the MoT (Ministry of Transport) test. This is required, along with the insurance certificate and the car's registration document, in order to get the 'tax disk' that you get when paying the road fund licence.

Because of these requirements, it is very important that you select a car that will not cost you too much to earn, when you do buy a car. Be careful to buy one that has a long MoT certificate (6 months or more - preferably more!), and that is in a lower insurance group. Get insurance quotes from several companies before you buy the car, to make sure you have a good idea of how much it will cost before you buy something that you can't afford to insure.

For this reason, older cars that were once expensive, luxury or sports cars, tend to have a much lower second-hand value, since they can be expensive to get through the MoT, and can be prohibitively expensive to insure.

Also - when buying from a garage, it can be a good idea get the car inspected by a third party to make sure that it would REALLY pass an MoT test. The 'conflict of interest' works both ways, and an unscrupulous garage might give an MoT certificate to a car that would not have actually passed a 'proper' test, in order to get rid of it.

  • 1
    It technically hasn't been known as "Road Fund Licence" since 1936; "car tax" is actually more accurate. The technical term is Vehicle Excise Duty. Mar 21, 2014 at 10:49

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