What is the MOT scheme?

MOT test checks that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. It is an offence to use a vehicle of MOT test age that doesn’t have a current test certificate on a public road.

When vehicles are tested

You can check the status of your vehicle by calling DVA Enquiries on 0300 200 7861, however, as a general rule the points below indicate when your vehicle will be due a MOT test:

  • cars and motorcycles which are four years old and over
  • light goods vehicles from three years old
  • trailers, large passenger carrying vehicles and heavy goods vehicles (over 3,500kgs gross weight) from one year old
  • buses and taxis from when they are first used

You can also check the current status of a vehicle at the following link:

How to apply and costs

You can book a test online, by phone, in person or by post:

MOT exemption – pre-1960 vehicles

Motor cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles manufactured or registered before 1960 are exempt from the mandatory MOT test.

Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) offers tests on a voluntary basis, but only at the request of the vehicle owner. Most voluntary tests will be for Cherished Transfers as the registration transfer scheme still requires a test certificate.

Pre-1960 vehicles booked for testing will continue to be inspected in the normal way, however, MOT reminders for these vehicles will not be sent out automatically.

Vehicles of historical interest (VHIs)

From 20 May 2018, motor vehicles first registered before 1960 in England, Scotland and Wales will still not need an MOT.  This covers all vehicles of historic interest  which are also known as classic vehicles.   This does not apply in Northern Ireland. 

An exempt VHI (does not need an MOT) coming from  England, Scotland or Wales to Northern Ireland on a permanent basis would therefore require an MOT. 

Drivers from England, Scotland or Wales  bringing exempted VHIs to Northern Ireland on a temporary basis, such as for an event or holiday, must bring their V112 exemption declaration with them which is issued by DVLA, as evidence that they have applied for the exemption under the Great Britain VHI scheme. 

There are plans to launch a public consultation in Northern Ireland for a VHI scheme similar to the one in Great Britain, as soon as possible. 

Buses, taxis and LPCVs

Buses, taxis, trailers and other vehicles must also be tested. Information on which vehicles must be tested, and when, can be found in the various test application forms.

If you need further information, please contact your nearest DVA test centre.

Goods vehicles and trailers

All goods vehicles with an gross vehicle weight up to and including 3,500kgs (light goods vehicles) must be submitted for first test on the third anniversary of the date on which they were first registered and once a year thereafter.

However, goods vehicles with an unladen weight exceeding 3,500kgs (heavy goods vehicles) must be tested at the end of their first year and every year thereafter.

For a trailer the test is due on the first anniversary of registration and then every year afterwards. For more information on whether your goods vehicle must be tested, contact your nearest DVA test centre.

When to apply for an MOT 

You can apply for the MOT up to three months before a vehicle is due for test.

A vehicle can be tested up to 28 days before the current vehicle test certificate is due to expire. These early days can then be added onto the certificate expiry date, so that you still get a certificate which is valid for a full year from the current date of expiry. For example, if the current certificate was due to expire on 1 April 2014, and the vehicle passed on or after 4 March 2014, the certificate would run from the date of the test until 1 April 2015.

However, if a vehicle is tested more than 28 days before the current vehicle test certificate is due to expire, this time cannot be added on, and therefore you will be issued with a certificate which is valid for one year from the date of the test.

If a vehicle is being tested for the first time, for example, on the fourth anniversary of its registration, it legally cannot be tested more than 28 days early. If a vehicle has originally been tested in Great Britain, the 28 day facility does not apply, and the MOT certificate will be dated from the date of test in Northern Ireland.

Vehicle testing outside Northern Ireland

An official MOT vehicle test certificate issued within the United Kingdom is valid in Northern Ireland.

 MOT test procedure

A strict routine is uniformly applied in all test centres to test the safety and roadworthiness of your vehicle. The vehicle test procedure is described in detail in the links below, including the testing criteria. The list of items that are checked at each stage of the inspection are not exhaustive but identifies the main items subject to inspection.

More useful links

Share this page

Feedback

Would you like to leave feedback about this page? Send us your feedback