Tax and MOT Exemption

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. The cutoff date for this is set once a year, on January 1st, though the new status only applies from April 1st. This means that in 2018, a car will qualify if it was built before January 1st 1978, and can benefit from the zero rate from April 1st 2018. 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 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.

Proving the age of your Last Edition Beetle

The free, easy way

Eventually, you should be able to just take your LEB’s V5C (log book) to the Post Office and ask for the taxation class to be changed from 'PLG' to 'Historic', based on the date of first registration, which is assumed to be very soon after the date of manufacture. However, the rolling 40 year cutoff is only updated once a year, on January 1st. From our records, the majority of Last Edition Beetles were first registered very early in 1978, which means they fall just the wrong side of the cutoff date for exemption in 2018. If yours is one of the few registered in 1977, you're in luck. Just to complicate things a little further, the DVLA apparently concedes that a car registered in the first week of 1978 will have been manufactured in 1977. If your LEB was registered between January 1st and January 7th 1978 (and a very small number were), you should also be able to obtain Historic status for it in 2018.

If you have an LEB registered early enough to qualify for exemption, wait till April 1st 2018, then change the Tax Class on your V5C to 'Historic'. Sign and date the form, and take it, along with a valid MOT certificate, to a Post Office. They'll send it off to the DVLA, who'll provide you with a new V5C within 4 weeks, and refund any road tax you've overpaid.

The difficult, expensive way

As explained above, most Last Edition Beetles were registered slightly too late for the 2018 tax exemption cutoff. However, eligibility is based on date of manufacture, not date of registration. That's significant for the LEBs, as we believe they all rolled off the production line in late 1977 but be warned, we're not 100% sure of that ! It should therefore be possible to obtain tax exemption for any LEB in 2018 if you can prove when it was manufactured. 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 'A 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.

Another free way (for a fortunate few)

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.

A success story

Well, it took two attempts, but number 250 is now officially approved as a 'Historic' vehicle. 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 received confirmation of the new tax class, with a replacement V5C to follow soon. Amazingly, they're going to refund the tax already paid for 2018 automatically. We were expecting that to take a further fight.

If you're going to try for Historic status for your LEB in 2018, our advice is to avoid the Post Office, and deal directly with the DVLA. Send your V5C and proof of manufacture date to them with a letter requesting the tax class change.