MOT test

Basic rules, fees and what to do if you're not satisfied

An MOT certificate does not mean that the vehicle is roadworthy for the life of the certificate and is not a substitute for regular maintenance

An MOT certificate does not mean that the vehicle is roadworthy for the life of the certificate and is not a substitute for regular maintenance

If your vehicle is more than three years old you will have to get it tested every year to show that it meets the minimum road safety and environmental standards.

There are different rules if you use the vehicle as a taxi.

An MOT certificate confirms that at the time of the test your vehicle met, as far as can be reasonably determined without dismantling, the minimum acceptable environmental and road safety standards required by law.

An MOT certificate does not mean that the vehicle is roadworthy for the life of the certificate and is not a substitute for regular maintenance.

Test fees

These are the maximum fees set by the Department for Transport. They are not subject to VAT.

Mileage records - check carefully

MOT 'certificates' issued since 18 November 2012 show the mileage recorded at up to three previous MOT tests as well as the current one.

If you own the car - check the mileage on the 'certificate' when you collect the car.  If the garage has made a mistake it can be corrected within seven days, but if missed, an error can affect the value of the car or make it more difficult to sell.

If you're buying a car - bear in mind that MOT 'certificates' can be forged.  Use the mileage record on the 'certificate' as a guide only and check the official record online.

Check the MOT history and status of a vehicle »

The 'certificate'

Records of MOT test results are held on a secure central database connected to all MOT testing stations.

The document you receive from the testing station is your receipt and shows the information that is held on the MOT database. It is not proof of an MOT and you should not rely on it as such i.e. when buying a used car.

Any recommended advisory work - potential problems not currently severe enough to result in a test failure - will also be shown.

Check the MOT history and status of a vehicle »

Checking your MOT 'certificate'

You can check the MOT status of a vehicle online if you have a legitimate interest in the vehicle - you must be the owner, registered keeper or be considering buying the vehicle.

You will need to know the vehicle registration number and the MOT test number from the most recent 'certificate' or test refusal certificate. If you don't have these you can use the document reference number from the vehicle registration document (V5C).

The status check will confirm the date and mileage of the last test and the expiry date.

You can also check details of previous MOT tests going back to 2005. Records before 2005 were not computerised.

Check the MOT history and status of a vehicle »

Exemptions

You don't need a valid MOT certificate if the vehicle is being taken by prior appointment to or from a test.

Vehicles manufactured before 1960

In May 2012, following a public consultation, the Government announced that vehicles manufactured before 1960 will be exempted from the MoT test from 18th November 2012

Classic and historic vehicles are often very well maintained by their owners and have a much lower accident and MoT failure rate than newer vehicles.

Pre-1960 licensed vehicles make up about 0.6% of the total number of licensed vehicles in Great Britain, but are involved in just 0.03% of road casualties and accidents.

MOT testing guide and manuals

DVSA website

Penalty

  • using a vehicle without a test certificate being in force carries a maximum fine of £1,000
  • if the vehicle is adapted to carry more than eight passengers the maximum fine increases to £2,500
  • failing to produce a test certificate to a police officer also carries a fine of up to £1,000

Conviction for any of these offences will not result in penalty points being placed on a driving licence.

Not satisfied with your MOT?

If you disagree with the test result you should discuss it with the test station first if possible. It's important not to let anyone else carry out repairs to your vehicle.

If you are not satisfied with the way your test was conducted, you should complain to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) as this helps them maintain good service and consistent standards.

Getting an MOT early

You can take your car for an MOT up to a month early and preserve the same renewal date but what happens if the car fails the test?

Your vehicle still has a current MOT as the expiry date of the old MOT still stands so if you take your car away you will not be committing the specific offence of driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.

However it is an offence to drive a vehicle with a known defect and to drive an unroadworthy vehicle so you can't simply ignore the test result and continue to drive the car normally until the old MOT expires.

You can be fined up to £2500, be banned from driving and get three penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

Renewing your tax online

You can tax your vehicle online or, if you intend to take the vehicle off the road, declare Statutory Off Road Notification, known as SORN.

You will need to know either the reference number on the tax renewal reminder, or the document reference number from the vehicle registration document (V5C).

You can also use the Vehicle Enquiry service to check what information DVLA holds on its database about a vehicle.

Renew your vehicle tax online »

(updated 13 November 2015)