Coronavirus (Covid 19) and motoring

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

MOT/Vehicle testing 

Temporary Exemption Certificates (TECs)

MOT temporary exemption certificates (TECs) for some vehicle groups will be extended by a further four months.

Existing TECs for qualifying vehicles will be extended by a further four months from the date the existing exemption ends. This applies to private cars, light goods vehicles and motorcycles aged 4-9 years, which will expire between 26 March 2021 and 25 March 2022.

Four year old cars and motorcycles and three year old light goods vehicles due a first time test between the above dates will have a four month TEC applied. The TEC will be applied from the date your first MOT or Goods Vehicle test is due.

Vehicles, including all private cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles that are aged 10 to 39 years and taxis and omnibuses old must be tested before their existing TECs expire. A reminder notification will issue to you. Further TEC extensions will not be applied to these vehicle categories.

New TECs or extensions to existing TECs will be applied automatically to allow vehicles to be taxed and kept on the road. You do not need to do anything until you receive a reminder notification from the DVA to book a vehicle test.

Some owners who have booked tests for vehicles that are entitled to the four month extension, have been contacted by DVA and their test appointment cancelled. Their test fee will be refunded as quickly as possible.

If you are one of those owners, you don't need to do anything until you receive a reminder notification from DVA to present your vehicle for test.

You can check that a TEC has been applied and/ or extended by visiting Check the MOT status of a vehicle

Should the online check show your TEC has expired, contact the DVA at dva.customerservices@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk for help.

The exemption will be applied four months before the old expiry date.

TECs will continue to be applied to all qualifying vehicles until vehicle testing services return to full testing capacity.

Whilst a TEC may be in place, you should continue to service your vehicle and carry out basic checks. Look out for  brake wear, make sure that all lights are working and regularly check tyre pressure and tread depth. 

You should also not delay making an MOT appointment when you receive a reminder from the DVA to book a vehicle test.

For all vehicles with TECs applied, the DVA will issue a reminder notice to the registered keeper of the vehicle before the TEC period ends, with instructions on how to book a test.

Vehicle testing for other categories

Vehicle testing is currently available for a number of vehicles.

The following categories are able to book a vehicle test and should receive reminders but you are encouraged to check your vehicle expiry date through Check the MOT status of a vehicle 

  • private cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles  aged 10-39 years old that have already availed of a Temporary Exemption Certificate for a 12 month period, which is due to expire
  • all heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
  • all trailers due a test

Owners of trailers will be unable to check online and should contact the DVA at dva.customerservices@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk with any queries.

Buses (being used for hire or reward) or taxis are able to book a vehicle licence test by applying 

The following categories can also book a test but will not receive an automatic reminder as these vehicles are not currently in the DVA system.

  • vehicles not registered or not tested in Northern Ireland and due a test
  • vehicles with MOT expired by more than 12 months
  • vehicles currently declared SORN (only if the previous MOT has expired by more than 12 months or if the vehicle is now due its first test)
  • buses due a first time test (not for ‘hire and reward’ use)
  • first time taxis

Details on how to book your appointment

Practical driving tests 

The NI Executive has agreed to extend the current series of Covid-19 restrictions introduced on 26 December 2020 and as a result, practical driving tests booked for the period 8 February to 16 April 2021 inclusive will not now take place. Affected customers still have access to the online booking system and can reschedule their appointment at:

Book, view, change or cancel your practical driving test

These restrictions will be reviewed by the Executive on 15 April 2021.

Those practical driving tests which are not rescheduled by the week before the scheduled test date will be cancelled and the fee refunded automatically by the DVA.

The DVA will contact all affected customers . 

Motorcycle tests are not affected by these restrictions and will continue to take place as normal.

When driving tests are able to begin again the booking service will open for new bookings in three phases. The first two phases will give early access to those customers, for a limited period, whose theory tests will expire by 31 October 2021 and 31 March 2022 respectively. The booking service will then re-open for all customers in the final phase. 

The DVA will contact customers  in the first two phases directly to tell them when they can access the booking system. The DVA will release more slots in May, June and July to provide the capacity needed.

The online booking system is still available for those customers who have previously had a test cancelled by the DVA.

The DVA apologises for the inconvenience that this will cause to customers and will try to introduce solutions to accommodate all remaining customers as quickly and as fairly as possible.

Taxis and buses

Taxis and buses (for ‘hire and reward’ use)  can also be booked in for a vehicle test. These vehicles require a separate approval and follow a different process outlined in the links below.

Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA)

Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) tests have now resumed after being suspended due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Further details can be found on the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) page.

Carriage of Dangerous Goods (CDG/ ADR)

Testing carried out on vehicles which carry dangerous goods, has now resumed.

Further information is available at Carriage of Dangerous Goods (CDG/ADR).

Checking a vehicle’s MOT status

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

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 make sure the full 12 months are covered.

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

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

Vehicle Roadworthiness

It's 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 meet their legal obligation to keep their vehicle in a roadworthy condition if they are using it on the road. 

Driver licensing

You should not attend the offices in Coleraine as you will not be allowed into the building. Refer to the relevant licensing page for other ways to contact DVA for licensing issues

All driving licences with an expiry date from 1 January 2021 must be renewed.

In line with EU Regulations, all driving licences with an expiry date between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2020 will be treated as valid for a further 11 months. 

This extension will be automatically applied, the driver record will not be updated and renewal licences may not be issued during this period. 

Drivers whose licence expiry falls within these dates are not required to take any action on the expiry of their licence.

For some drivers this will remove the requirement to have a medical assessment conducted at this difficult time.

Note the extension does not apply to provisional driving licences that expire in this period. A provisional driving licence can be renewed online

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

You should not come to the offices in Coleraine as you will not get access to the building. To contact the DVA for licensing issues go to:

Taxis

New regulations implemented have provided for the automatic renewal of taxi vehicle licences up to a maximum of one year.

These licences will be issued automatically, without a test before and free of charge.

Vehicles which had already received an automatic six month licence, will have received a further six month licence.

In addition, vehicles with a taxi licence that expires between 10 October 2020 and 31 May 2021, which have not already received a six month licence, will receive a twelve month licence.

Vehicle owners will have received their automatic licence in the post before their current licence expires.

Only taxis that have been previously tested and issued with a taxi licence will be eligible under the temporary arrangements.

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.    

The licence is issued subject to licence conditions, which includes ensuring that the licensed taxi has not undergone any change or alteration which has reduced its roadworthiness.

It is a legal requirement for the owner of any licensed taxi to tell the Taxi Licensing Team of any change or alteration.

Vehicles that have already received a free licence extension will receive a reminder before the licence expiry date to allow time for applicants to apply online and book their PSV test date.

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 send a medical report at some future date.

If you do have a medical condition, you will need to send 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 with a licence expiry between 10 March 2020 and  31 May 2021.

Vehicle owners will receive their automatic licence in the post before their current licence expires. Only buses that have been previously tested and issued with a licence will be eligible under the temporary arrangements. Only one automatic licence will be issued for each vehicle.

The licence authorises the continued use of the vehicle, for the period of the licence, without the need for a vehicle test to be conducted.    

The licence is issued subject to licence conditions.

Vehicles that have already received a free licence extension will receive a reminder before the licence expiry date to allow time for applicants to apply online and book their PSV test date.

Driver theory tests

Given the NI Executive’s decision to extend lockdown restrictions, driving theory tests from 26 December 2020 to 15 April 2021 inclusive will now be suspended. 

Instead of cancelling your test, DVA have rescheduled it for 60 days later, into a temporary placeholder appointment.

Once a date for the resumption of driving theory tests is agreed by the Executive, more appointments will be released so you can reschedule this temporary placeholder appointment at the link below:

The DVA apologises for the inconvenience that this will cause to customers.

The validity of theory test pass certificates for learner drivers which expired between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2020 has been extended by eight months. These have now had their validity extended by a further four months.

In addition, theory test pass certificates which expire between 1 November 2020 and 30 June 2021, and which have not already benefited from an extension, have also had their validity period extended by eight months.

 The aim of these measures is to allow learner drivers additional time to book and take their practical driving tests.

Candidates whose theory test certificate expires outside of these dates will need to book and sit another theory test.

The extension has been applied automatically to affected certificates, so you do not need to contact DVA to request an extension.

You must wear a face covering at your theory test. The rules on face coverings have been updated. For further info visit Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings

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

DVA understands the significant challenges that Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) and Approved Motorcycle Instructors (AMIs) have faced in these difficult times.

This information pack for stakeholders, outlines how the DVA plan to manage the phased return of driving tests, with key dates, and links to other useful information.

The DVA will continue to review how they are progressing with this challenging task, and would like to sincerely thank you for your continued support.

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. 

This has recently been reviewed in line with existing guidance and a decision has been made to extend the suspension until further notice.

Tests for fully qualified ADIs and AMIs are also suspended.

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, email DVA.AMI@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or ADIOnlineCorrespondence@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. 

These email 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.

Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

Amended procedures are now in place for the provision of CBT certificates and logbooks to authorised CBT Trainers while counter services at DVA test centres are still closed.

Requests from authorised CBT trainers should be emailed to DVA.AMI@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

Driver Certificate of Professional Competence

The validity of the Driver CPC cards that expire from 1 February 2020 to 31 August 2020 has been extended for seven months.

If the expiry date on your card is outside this period, you must not drive until it is renewed.  You could face a £1000 fine if you drive without a valid CPC.

More information is available at CPC for existing lorry, bus and coach drivers.

Counter services

All counter services across the DVA are suspended.

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.

Contacting the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA)

The DVA has reinstated its telephone service, which was suspended due to Covid-19 related restrictions.

Customers who wish to contact the DVA with queries may use the contact details below. 

  • For Driver Licensing queries phone: 0300 200 7861
  • For Driver and Vehicle Testing queries phone 0300 200 7862

E-mail address for all queries: dva.customerservices@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk.

The email 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.

 

 

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