Coronavirus (Covid 19) and motoring

This page provides information on the Driver & Vehicle Agency's (DVA) services that are affected during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The information on the page is reviewed regularly so please continue to check this page frequently for new updates.

All vehicle testing suspended 

On 24 March 2020, in the interest of public safety and to tackle the spread of COVID-19, the DVA suspended all vehicle testing at DVA test centres for three months, until 22 June 2020. 

Priority Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) tests have now resumed.

More information is available on the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) page.

Temporary Exemption Certificates (TECs)

Since vehicle testing was suspended, vehicles with a test appointment have been issued with a Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC), to ensure that they may continue to be driven legally on the road.  Indeed, TECs have been issued to some vehicles from late January 2020, due to the disruption to vehicle testing caused by lift faults.

Issuing TECs has been an effective way of keeping vehicles on the road and ensuring they can be taxed and insured.  TECs will continue to be issued to all eligible vehicles until vehicle testing services resume again.

Eligible Vehicles

Eligible vehicles include all cars and motorcycles that are four years old or more, goods vehicles and trailers.  Vehicles which need to be treated differently include taxis, buses, vehicles not registered in Northern Ireland and vehicles with MOTs expired by more than 12 months. More advice on these is set out below in the relevant section.

All TECs will be automatically updated on DVA’s system and on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) system so that the vehicle can be taxed.

Before the TEC period ends DVA will issue a reminder notice to the registered keeper to book and present their vehicle for test.

It is important to note that DVA will not be issuing a hard copy of the TEC to customers. 

Automation of TECs

From 11 May, TECs will be automatically generated from DVA’s system for all eligible vehicles without any action needed to be taken by the vehicle owner.

Vehicles whose existing MOT certificate expired from 26 March or will expire before testing resumes again will be automatically exempt from testing for a full 12 months.

For vehicles which have previously been issued a TEC, their TEC will be automatically extended to the maximum timeframes set out in legislation, up to a maximum period of 12 months from their last MOT expiry date. 

This means all eligible vehicles will be provided with one year’s cover from their MOT expiry date in 2020, meaning their new MOT expiry date will be pushed forward into 2021, when there will be capacity to test them.

Due to legislative requirements TECs are applied by DVA on a phased basis, for different durations based on vehicle type. However, where relevant, the DVA will automatically apply further exemptions to ensure the full 12 months are covered.  The exceptions are 4 year old cars and motorbikes, which for legislative reasons will only receive a 6 month TEC from the date their first test was due.

All TECs will be automatically updated on DVA’s system and on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) system so that the vehicle can be taxed.

Before the TEC period ends DVA will issue a reminder notice to the registered keeper to book and present their vehicle for test.

Checking a vehicle’s MOT status

Customers may check the status of their MOT and details of the new expiry date online at:

Check vehicle tax

Please note that due to legislative requirements TECs are applied by DVA on a phased basis, for different durations based on vehicle type.   So when you check online, it will show the date your MOT expires based on the initial TEC period that has been applied.  However, where applicable, the DVA will automatically apply further exemptions to ensure the full 12 months are covered.

Should the online check show your MOT has expired then please contact DVA Customer Services at dva.customerservices@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk for assistance.

Owners of trailers will be unable to check online and should also contact the DVA Customer Services with any queries.

Vehicles not covered by the TEC process

Vehicles not registered in Northern Ireland

Vehicles which are not registered to a Northern Ireland address, are not in the DVA system and cannot, therefore, be granted an automatic TEC.

If you have a vehicle in Northern Ireland which is not currently registered to a Northern Ireland address, but is due a vehicle test soon, please contact the DVA Customer Services at dva.customerservices@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk to provide your vehicle details.

Vehicles with MOT expired by more than 12 months

Vehicles whose MOT certificate had expired by more than 12 months at the time of application for a new test are not eligible for a TEC and their booking fee will be refunded. These vehicles should not be driven on public roads.

Owners should apply for a test appointment once vehicle testing services resume.

Taxis

New regulations have been put in place to allow taxi vehicle licences to be issued for vehicles that have been previously licensed as a taxi.

A six month licence will be issued automatically and free of charge for vehicles whose licence is due to expire between 10 March 2020 and 9 October 2020.

The licence authorises taxi drivers to continue to use their taxi vehicle, for the period of the licence, without the need for a vehicle test to be conducted.

Taxi drivers and medicals

If you are applying to renew your taxi driver’s licence and you do not have a medical to declare, your taxi driver’s licence will be renewed without a medical report. You may be asked to submit a medical report at some future date.

If you do have a medical condition, you will need to submit a medical report. It is important to let your GP know that you are a key worker and require a medical report to renew your taxi driver’s licence.

    Buses

    The Department for Infrastructure has made a Determination to renew bus PSV licences, effectively exempting them from the roadworthiness test. A 12 month licence will be issued automatically and free of charge for vehicles whose licence is due to expire during the COVID-19 crisis.

    Vehicle Roadworthiness

    It is important for owners to understand that it remains their responsibility to make sure their car is in a roadworthy condition to be used on a public road.

    The PSNI and Insurers expect motorists to comply with their legal obligation to keep their vehicle in a roadworthy condition if they are using it on the road. 

    Owners should continue to service their vehicle and carry out basic checks such as regularly checking tyre pressures and tread depths, looking out for brake wear and ensuring that all lights are working.

    Refunds

    If you have paid for a vehicle test, which was cancelled by the DVA, your test fee will be refunded.

    Given the high volume of test cancellations resulting from vehicle tests being suspended due to Covid-19 and previous lift issues, this has placed an inevitable pressure on staff and resources and DVA is currently working hard to process the backlog of refunds. If your original payment was made by card, your refund is likely to be processed more quickly and directly into your bank account. Refunds for cash and cheque payments will take longer to process.

    The DVA apologises to customers for any inconvenience caused and would like to assure them that every effort is being made to ensure that all refunds due will be issued in the shortest possible timeframe.

    Counter services

    Further to the government’s decision to introduce measures to delay the spread of coronavirus (COVID- 19), the decision has been taken to suspend all counter services across the DVA.

    These are necessary precautionary measures to protect staff and customers, and adhere to government guidelines on social distancing.

    Until further notice, counter services are no longer available at County Hall, Coleraine or at any MOT test centre.

    Driver licensing

    There are plans to extend expiring driving licences for an additional seven months from the expiry date.

    The new arrangements will be put in place when a new EU Regulation becomes law on 4 June 2020.  This means that all driving licences with an expiry date between 1 February and 31 August 2020 will be treated as valid for a further seven months. For some drivers this will remove the requirement to have a medical assessment conducted at this difficult time.

    Please note if you do not hold a driving licence because an application has been refused or your licence has been revoked by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA), or if you have been disqualified from driving by a court, your licence will not be extended.

    Key Workers and medicals

    If you are a key worker and you need to submit a medical report with your driving licence application or have been asked to get your GP to complete a form as a result of a driving licence application, let your GP and the DVA know that you are a key worker.  The DVA will do everything possible to prioritise your application.

    To tell the DVA that you are a key worker, email using the following link DVADriverLicensing.KeyWorkers@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk.  You will need to include the following information in your email:

    • that you are a key worker
    • your full name
    • your address
    • your date of birth
    • your driver number (if you have it), you will find this on your driving licence, it is an eight digit number
    • details of your employer

    The DVA apologises for any inconvenience but protecting the health of staff and customers is the priority at this very difficult time.

    Driver testing services

    Following the Government’s decision to introduce measures to delay the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the DVA has suspended all practical driving tests until 22 June 2020.

    Driver theory tests

    Due to the unfolding coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, driver theory tests have been suspended from Friday 20 March 2020 until further notice.

    Approved Driving Instructors (ADI) and Approved Motorcycle Instructors (AMI)

    Following the Government’s decision to introduce measures to delay the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) the DVA has suspended delivery of the ADI and AMI qualifying tests – this includes the ADI and AMI theory test, practical test of driving ability and practical test of instructional ability.  Tests are currently suspended until 22 June 2020.

    Check tests for fully qualified ADIs and AMIs are also suspended for the same period.

    Due to the impact of Covid-19, the Business Support Unit (BSU) has limited capacity to answer customer queries and there is currently no phone service available. 

    Should you need to contact BSU, please e-mail DVA.AMI@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or ADIOnlineCorrespondence@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. 

    These e-mail addresses will be monitored but due to ongoing pressure on services and staff, it may take longer than usual for a response to be provided.

    Carriage of Dangerous Goods (CDG/ADR)

    The Carriage of Dangerous Goods (CDG/ADR) test is carried out on vehicles which carry dangerous goods. These annual inspections have been suspended because of coronavirus. From 1 June, the DVA will introduce a statutory authorisation process that will permit the continued use of ADR vehicles on the road, provided strict conditions and control measures are in place for these heavy vehicles.

     

    Driver Certificate of Professional Competence

    Due to the current challenges posed by COVID-19, no enforcement action will be taken against drivers whose certificate of professional competence (CPC) has expired between 1 March and 30 September 2020. 

    This should allow drivers to continue to operate during this period of disruption and reflects the difficulties the freight industry is facing, in the absence of driver training being provided by third parties, for drivers to complete the necessary training to retain their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) renewal.

    Contacting the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA)

    Due to the impact of Covid-19, the DVA has limited capacity to answer customer queries and there is currently no counter or phone service available.

    Should you need to get in touch with the DVA on an urgent matter, please e-mail dva.customerservices@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk.

    This e-mail address will be monitored but due to ongoing pressures on services and staff, it may take longer than usual for a response to be provided.  

    More information on Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC)

    More information on Driver CPC is available via the following link.


     

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