Vehicle identity check (VIC)
Vehicle crime is a serious problem. It costs the economy an estimated £3bn a year and affects motorists directly by raising insurance premiums. One aspect of vehicle crime is car ‘ringing’ which involves passing off stolen cars as repaired, accident-damaged cars.
A Vehicle Identity Check (VIC) marker
The VIC scheme has been introduced to help reduce vehicle crime. It is intended to discourage criminals from disguising stolen cars with the identity of written off or scrapped vehicles.
When an insurance company writes off a car within salvage categories A, B or C, the registration document (V5C(NI) logbook) is surrendered to them at the time of a claim being made and destroyed by them.
The insurance company will then notify the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) that the vehicle has been written off and this will set a marker on the vehicle record. If a vehicle is subsequently repaired with the intention of returning the vehicle to the road, DVA will not issue a new registration document or vehicle excise duty license until the car passes a VIC.
The VIC is designed to help confirm that the vehicle being returned to the road is what it purports to be and not a stolen or substitute vehicle.
Confirming if a VIC marker is set on a record
When an application for licensing and registration is made to DVA, they will confirm whether a VIC is required or not. If it is, a VIC application can then be submitted. The current cost of a VIC test is £41. The vehicle registration mark must be known in order for an application to be accepted.
Checking a vehicle's identity
DVA carry out VIC tests at their test centres in Lisburn and Londonderry. As part of the identification process there are a number of sources of information that can be used to enable the individual carrying out the check to obtain an understanding of the history of the vehicle.
Comparing the vehicle presented against information held by DVA Licensing (NI), such as the vehicle identification number, make, model, colour, and engine number as well as any records of previous accident damage through evidence of damage repair and checking other components to confirm the age and identity of the vehicle allows for a more positive identification.
After examining the vehicle the inspector will make a decision to either pass or fail it based on the apparent authenticity of the stamped-in vehicle identification mark and other corroborating evidence.
Once a car has passed a VIC, the V5C(NI) issued will be annotated to show 'substantially repaired' or 'accident damaged’; and ‘identity checked on dd/mm/yyyy'.
Taking the car for a VIC
If you are bringing the vehicle to the test centre on a transporter you are advised to make arrangements with the appropriate test centre manager, especially if you want the vehicle dropped off at a test centre and collected later in the day, as this will depend on the availability of suitable car parking space.
If you intend to drive the vehicle to the test then you must ensure that it has current MOT [if applicable], registration plates, and that the person driving has sufficient insurance to cover them on the road. A vehicle excise duty license is not needed to drive to and from an appointment.
On arrival at the Test Centre the vehicle presenter will need to report to reception with their appointment letter. They must bring along any evidence in support of their application such as vehicle repair receipts and MOT certificate. After handing over the vehicle keys they need to remain in the reception area whilst a trained inspector carries out the VIC.
They will not be allowed to view the VIC. Following the examination which will take approximately 30 minutes, they will be informed of the result and any necessary documents will be issued along with the vehicle's keys.
The VIC will not confirm if a vehicle is roadworthy, but it will highlight any defects that would make the vehicle unsafe to drive. If this is the case the vehicle will be prohibited from being driven away. The VIC also does not endorse the quality of any repair work that has been carried out.
Can DVA refuse to carry out the VIC?
DVA reserves this right. DVA will refuse to carry out the VIC and the fee will be forfeited if:
- the vehicle does not arrive at the appointed time or place.
- the relevant fee has not been paid subject to the payment conditions stated on the application form.
- the vehicle emits substantial quantities of avoidable smoke.
- the vehicle or any part of it is so dirty that carrying out the check is unreasonably difficult.
- the vehicle or its contents is in such a condition that a meaningful check would involve danger to a person, or damage to the vehicle or any other property, or that current health and safety legislation cannot be followed.
- sufficient repairs have not been carried out to support the intention of returning the vehicle to a roadworthy condition.
- a door, tailgate, boot lid, engine cover, fuel cap, floor covering, or other device, capable of being opened or accessed is locked or fixed so that a thorough check cannot be carried out.
- the check cannot be completed due to a lack of fuel or oil, component failure, or for any other reason that will make completion unreasonably difficult or unsafe.
- the conduct of the presenter is considered to be unreasonable.
- the presenter refuses to or is unable to comply with the instructions given.
How to Book
You must apply to DVA with a completed application form and fee before the check can take place. Application forms are available from any of the DVA Test Centres or DVA licensing local offices.
You can change your appointment with no loss of fee, or cancel and get a full refund, provided you give three clear working day's notice.
Following a VIC
If DVA Testing is satisfied with the identity of your car, you’ll be given a VIC pass certificate. If your vehicle fails you’ll be given a notification of refusal. DVA will be electronically notified of the result within 48 hours and must wait for this notification before they can issue a V5C(NI).
When successful, you can apply to DVA for a V5C(NI) using the V34(NI) Application for a vehicle registration certificate V5C(NI). If your car was a category C 'write off' you should declare this when completing the V34(NI) form, as you are exempt from paying the application fee.
If you submitted a V34(NI) form to DVA before taking your car for a VIC, you’ll have received a notification letter from DVA. This letter should now be returned to DVA, with the declaration completed.
The VIC does not guarantee that the vehicle is genuine. When issuing a pass certificate, DVA Testing are confirming that as far as can be determined, taking into account the evidence provided and within the scope of the check, that the vehicle is believed to be genuine.
If a vehicle is purchased with a VIC pass certificate it should not be relied upon as evidence that a vehicle has passed a VIC. DVA Licensing should be contacted on 0845 402 4000 where they can advise on the status of the vehicle.
If the vehicle fails a VIC test you can appeal against the decision. A further test fee is applicable. The vehicle will be re-examined and you will be asked about repairs since the test. You must produce the inspection record sheet/notification of refusal.
If the examiner allows the appeal, a pass certificate will be issued. If there are good reasons for the appeal, a refund of all or part of the fee may be given.