The DVLA allows the tax class of vehicles over 40 years old to be changed to 'Historic', making them eligible for zero rate road tax. This is commonly referred to as 'tax exempt', but that's not strictly true; the car is still subject to the usual tax or SORN rules, but the tax has zero cost. As the LEBs are now over 40 years old, this is obviously of great interest to us. We're still finding our way with the rules and processes, so if you can add anything to our knowledge, please get in touch.
From 2018, cars over 40 years old will also be exempt from MOT testing, unless they have been 'substantially changed'. LEB owners tend to keep their cars close to the original specification, so most of us can benefit from this. The idea behind the exemption is that classic cars are typically well looked after, and have lower MOT failure and accident rates than more recent cars. You'll still be able to submit your car voluntarily for testing, and that's probably a good idea if you have any doubts about your vehicle's condition.
As long as your car was registered soon after it was built, you can take your LEB’s V5C (log book) to the Post Office and ask for the taxation class to be changed from 'PLG' to 'Historic'. You may need additional documentation to support your application, so check the requirements on the UK Government website. They'll send the V5C off to the DVLA, who'll provide you with a new one within 4 weeks, and refund any road tax you've overpaid.
A few Last Edition Beetles were not registered immediately after production. Typically, these were cars kept in pristine condition
by dealers or collectors. If your vehicle is a member of this elite cohort, you may need to find another means of proving its age.
One way (possibly the only way) of doing this is to obtain a copy of the production record for your car from the
VW Museum in Wolfsburg. For a fee, the museum can provide either a 'birth certificate' or data sheet for any VW from its
chassis number. Two things that may put you off are:
1) It's not cheap
2) It may not be quick.
We can't promise that the DVLA will accept documentation from the museum as proof of manufacture date, and have heard conflicting stories about this. However, it worked for us - eventually. See 'An early success story' for an account of our experiences. It wasn't plain sailing, but we got there in the end. If you fancy giving it a try, here's the link to the appropriate page on the website. You'll then have to send a copy of the certificate to the DVLA for them to pass judgement. We strongly advise against sending the original.
In the olden days, Volkswagen (UK) would provide production data free-of-charge to anyone who asked about their car. However, this became very common knowledge, and VW were swamped with enquiries. We can't really blame them for calling a halt to the free service, and introducing paid-for certificates from the museum. If you are fortunate enough to have an old letter from Volkswagen (UK) confirming your car's date of manufacture, this should suffice as proof of age for tax and MOT exemption. At least one member of the Last Edition Beetle Register has had success using one of these, but it was dated 2002. Don't bother asking now, though - they'll say no.
It took two attempts, but number 250 was officially approved as a 'Historic' vehicle in 2018. At that time it could be more of a faff, as some LEBs were clearly registered on the right side of the January 1st cutoff date for eligibility, but others were not. As described in 'The difficult, expensive way' elsewhere on this page, Julie took a printed scan of her Beetle's VW Museum 'birth certificate' along with its V5C vehicle registration certificate to the local Post Office. They said they'd forward the documents to the DVLA. Weeks passed with no news. Eventually Julie chased up the DVLA, who denied ever having received the paperwork. They advised her to send another copy of the proof of age and an application for a new V5C (as the old one was lost), along with a covering letter explaining the story. This time, it worked, and she's now has a replacement V5C confirming the change of tax class. Hurray !