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Great Britain Road Tax Discs 1921-1978


The road tax disc was introduced in 1921 as a receipt to indicate that excise duty had been paid for the vehicle on which it is displayed.  When new, they had a margin or selvedge attached giving information enabling the counter clerk to fill in the disc correctly.  The selvedge was then torn along perforations and discarded. The perforations were absent on some pre 1930 and some 1940s discs).  The diameter varies slightly, but is usually 75mm.


Following this text you will find photographs of all the main patterns of disc to enable you to complete your blank.  The particulars to be entered are


Mark                               the vehicle registration number

Class                               eg Bicycle, Private (ie car),  Private and Light Goods (ie vans etc), Agricultural Machine, Goods

Make                              eg Norton, Ford etc

Unladen Weight (uw)       in tons and cwt

Capacity or HP                On early discs there is a box labelled “Seat Capacity”.   For cars etc, enter number of seats, for motorcycles, cross out “seat” and enter the engine capacity in cc.

Rate                                the amount of duty paid.  This varied for type of vehicle, year and whether disc was for a whole or part year.  It is often difficult to know the correct figure to enter.


The basic Disc Design


Since their introduction, there have been nine different designs of tax disc.


                                      Annual                                      Quarterly

Type 1                                      1921-21                         1921-50

Type 2                                      1923-38                         -

Type 3                                      1939-50                         -

Type 4                                      1951-56                         1951-56

Type 5                                      1957-60                         1957-60



                   Annual, 4-monthly or six monthly share same design

Type 6                                      1961-78

Type 7                                      1977-87

Type 8                                      1987-93

Type 9                                      1993-2001


Type 1 Annual 1921-22


Plain background, no colour bands.  Rare (had to be handed in when obtaining a replacement disc)


Type 2 Annual 1923-38

Security background repeating “ROAD FUND LICENCE” in tiny letters.  This letterinq has usually faded out on early discs.

The annual licences, but not the quarterly ones have bands of colour

         Vertical in 1923-31, 1941-43, 1953-56

         Horizontal in 1932-34 and 1944-46

         Cross-shaped in 1935-37 and 1947-49

         Diagonal (SW to NE) in 1938-40 and 1950-52


Between 1932 and 1949 the colours of the bands rotated regularly through red, green and  orange plus light blue in 1925, violet in 1927 and dark blue in 1931 and 1954.



Type 3 Annual 1939-50

Almost identical to type 2, except background lettering now reads “MECHANICALLY PROPELLED VEHICLE LICENCE”



Type 1-3 Quarterly 1921-50

No background or coloured bands, but printed on coloured paper, changing every three months – light green, light blue, dark blue, buff, pink, yellow, orange and grey.



Type 4 Annual 1951-56

“VEHICLES (EXCISE) ACT 1949” around top margin, year vertical in centre replaces national emblems.



Type 4 Quarterly 1951-56

Same as the annual design, but without the background lettering or coloured bands.  Printed on coloured paper, colour changing quarterly.



Type 5 Annual and Quarterly 1957-60

Complete re-design for both.



Type 6 1961-78

Another re-design to make copying more difficult.  Licences now issued every four months instead of quarterly.  Same design used for annual discs.


Quarterly discs were put on thinner paper and have not survived as well as the annual versions.  All new blank discs supplied by me are printed on thin card for durability.

Disc Designs (images not true size)




Type 1 Quarterly and Annual 1921-22 – the first disc issued






Types 2 and 3 Annual 1923-50



Types 1-3 Quarterly 1921-50






Type 4 Annual and Quarterly 1951-56





Type 5 Annual and Quarterly 1957-60



 Later discs sometimes had printed details


Type 6 annual and 4-monthly 1961-78





 Acknowledgements to

“Great Britain Road Tax Discs 1921-2000”

by Champion, Hitchings and Brice

Published by the Revenue Society of Great Britain