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 continue to check this page frequently for new updates.

Practical driving tests cancelled

Given the NI Executive’s decision to introduce a two-week circuit breaker, practical driving tests which were booked from 27 November to 10 December inclusive will now be cancelled.

The DVA will refund payments for tests booked during this period, as quickly as possible, and will contact those customers directly in due course. 

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

Practical driving tests booked between 21 and 26 November will take place as scheduled.

This is a NI Executive decision and has been taken to protect the health and safety of customers and staff, in line with medical and scientific advice. 

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

If you’re a critical worker - if you applied on this basis before 5 October and had your assessment as a critical worker confirmed by the DVA -  and have had your test cancelled, or you have had a test cancelled more than once, you can book a driving test online. 

This applies, effective immediately, to those customers who had tests booked for the period 27 November to 10 December, now cancelled, and who had been given priority access to the online booking system from 9 November.

From 8am on Monday 23 November, the online booking system will open to phase 2 customers – those who had their tests cancelled from 17 October to 20 November. If you’re in one of the two categories above, the DVA will contact you directly with further information. 

Additional slots are now available for the coming months but, depending on demand, it may take a while before you can have your test appointment. You may also need to look at availability at other test centres, as slots may not be available at the test centre of your choice.

Vehicle tests (MOTs) are not affected by these new restrictions and will continue to take place as normal.

Other practical driving tests

Practical tests can also be booked by contacting the DVA directly for:

  • lorry driving
  • bus driving
  • tractor
  • Module 4 DCPC test for bus or lorry

For information on how to book click here

MOT/Vehicle testing 

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 customers are encouraged to check their vehicle expiry date through Check the MOT status of a vehicle

  • four year old private cars, including four year old cars which got a six month Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC) 
  • four year old motorcycles
  • three year old light goods vehicles
  • all heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) due a test from 1 September 2020 
  • all trailers due a test from 1 September 2020 

The following categories can also book a test but will not receive an automatic reminder as these vehicle 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)

Details on how to book your appointment

Vehicle testing for other categories

Vehicle testing will remain unavailable for private cars and motorcycles over five years old, as well as light goods vehicles over four years old.

Owners of these vehicles should not attempt to book an appointment. Vehicles in these categories will continue to avail of a Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC) until testing has fully resumed.

Taxis

Taxis and buses (for ‘hire and reward’ use) due a first time test 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 ensure 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 assistance.

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 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.

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 alternative means to contact DVA for licensing issues

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

In accordance 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

Key workers and medicals

If you're 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.  This email address is for queries that relate to driver licensing only. 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.

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 will be implemented which will extend the automatic renewal of taxi vehicle licences.

There will be no application process as these licences will be issued automatically, without prior test, and free of charge.

Vehicles which have already received an automatic six month licence, will receive 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 receive 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 modification or alteration which has reduced its roadworthiness.

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

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 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.

Driver theory tests

Given the NI Executive’s decision to introduce a two-week circuit breaker, driving theory tests from 27 November to 10 December inclusive will now be suspended. 

Instead of cancelling affected tests, we will reschedule them for 30 days later, into a temporary placeholder appointment. This will give customers time to go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/book-change-or-cancel-your-theory-test-online to reschedule this temporary placeholder appointment to your preferred date, time and location.

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 will now have 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, will have their validity period extended by eight months.

This legislative change will come into effect by December 2020 and will be applied retrospectively.  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 also remain 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 remain 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 remain 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 enquiry service, which was suspended from March 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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