History - UK Road Fund Licence (commonly known as the 'tax disc')


With thanks to Mike Drake and The Revenue Society of Great Britain, this page is nearing completion. The Society's authors of Mssrs. RH Champion, EJ Hitchings and M Brice published an outstanding and comprehensive 22-page A4 monograph entitled 'Great Britain Road Tax Discs 1921-2000' which is now out of print but worth looking for. It contained a wonderful array of the rarest images and variants along with a wealth of history and little-known facts on the subject. The Hon. Secretary of The Revenue Society of GB, Mr. Tony Hall, kindly granted VG permission to reproduce some of the images in a smaller format for this page.

now out of print :(

1910 - Road fund introduced - tax is based on vehicular power - £2.10s for less than 6.5 hp

1921 - Petrol tax scrapped and a £1-per hp visible road tax disc is introduced, similar in size of today's with a vertical 'expiry' cross in the background, shadowed by either of four differing lines to note the year at a distance. Available as an annual (dual colour) or three-monthly (differing single colours) tax disc, which expired on 24th March (Spring Equinox), 30th June (Summer Solstice), 30th September (Autumn Equinox) and 31st December (Winter Solstice-or a few days later!). [Thanks to Mike Drake]

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1939 - The 'Farmers Annual' introduced for agricultural farm vehicles, signified by a large 'F' preceding the vehicle details and fee of five shillings. This format remained unchanged for 40 years.

1948 - A flat rate road tax of £10 per car introduced.

1951 - Slight revision of design

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1957 - Total redesign

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1960 - Only three quarterlies issued! The last 'quarterly' was actually 4 months and expired on January 1st 1961. "The reason that the system changed in 1961 was to spread the issue workload more evenly throughout the year. Councils were having to employ large amounts of temporary staff to deal with the huge annual disc applications as well as the usual amount of quarterly ones. I can remember the chaotic times in the office, often caused by the temporary staff not being experienced and not really caring much about the accuracy of their work. This meant we had to double-check their work increasing our workload even further!" - Mike Drake [Devon County Council Motor Taxation Office, 1960-3]

1961 - Yet another new, more coloured and simple design of 'DEC 61' format is introduced which would run until May 1978. Emergency hand-stamped yellow or pink discs were issued for such reasons as postal strikes between 1971-5.

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1977 - September sees the arrival of a new 'digital' full date style disc with two small holes and an emboss to thwart easy copying

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1981 - 4-monthly disc withdrawn by the DVLC due to administration costs and introduction of a 6-month option

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1983 - Welsh issued discs featured bi-lingual texts while the final Northern Ireand-specific discs maintained the old lower arc printing from the 60's and 70's design to denote 'Northern Ireland' (no colour image is available)

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1987 - September brings the new wavy background to the existing disc to further combat counterfeiting

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1989 - 'Environmentally Friendly HGV' discs launched with different design. DVLC is replaced by EXPIRES in the background, HGV is embossed around the top perimeter and two 'eye' shapes make up the rest

1993 - March sees yet another disc change - back to the older and larger 'month-year' format (but retaining the actual day of expiry in the background) with a large month font and a more complex colouring system with new emboss

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Jap has HGV swaps and trades...email him

1999 - Gov't low emissions vehicles levy introduced - under 1100cc charged less of a fee. On 27th January, the disc inadvertently becomes one of the first public official demonstrations of how the new century will affect the now common short-date format. September and October discs were especially prone to fading in daylight.

{may99}sep99cheers Mark!feb00 mar00sep00

2001 - Government's Chancellor of the Exchequer brings LEV rebate up to 1300cc. Even more elaborate design - water marks now, embossing of 'DVLA' across the top quarter and banknote-like fine line background amongst some of them.

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2003 - More anti-copying measures in the form of cut-out stars, gold paint and a barcode resulting in the ugliest tax disc ever. Why the UK Government insist on this archaic piece of paper in the window (Post Office queues are long enough as it is), and why the DVLA continue to waste money and resource on such elaborate anti-counterfeiting measures remains a mystery - especially when the 'road fund' tax could be applied to the MOT, household rates, income tax or fuel tax. [Of course, if this, VAT, the equally ludicrous 'BBC TV licence' and petrol tax etc. were all added together, the tax rate for Britain would probably be something like 61p in the £ ....so it's not such a mystery!]

new disc Sep04click

Oh dear, another blunder perhaps? Can you even make out the date Mr Plod? How long before this one is revised?

Jan 05click 'duplicate issue'

Virtualgaz is endebted to the following people for their assistance and support:

Mark Fulwell, Tony Liqueur, Mike Drake, Sarah Lynch, Jap, Ian Hodkinson, DK, Tony Hall, RH Champion, EJ Hitchings, M Brice & The Revenue Society of GB.

Australian 'Rego' Stickers

Issued six monthly or annually and includes 'CTP' (Compulsory Third Party Insurance). Each state issues different stickers which have to be displayed on the windscreen or fixed LH side window. Actual sizes.

NSW RTA, May 2004

QLD QT, Sep 2003

QLD QT, Mar 2002

QLD QT, Dec 2001

QLD QT, Jan 1996

VIC VicRoads, Oct 1995



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