The MOT/Vehicle Roadworthiness Test

All vehicles must undergo regular inspection (MOT test), by official test centres. This inspection is to ensure the car is legal and roadworthy, with safe emissions. Find out where and how to get a car tested in the UK...

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), formerly the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), is a division of the Department for Transport (DfT) and is responsible for matters of vehicle licencing and testing. This includes the compulsory MOT test of vehicle roadworthiness.

The Ministry of Transport test (MOT) ascertains whether a vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. All cars over three years old must be tested annually. It is illegal to drive a vehicle that has not passed the annual MOT, except when driving to or from a test centre. Any person caught driving with an expired MOT certificate may be fined. The MOT certificate is required when paying car tax.

DVSA is responsible for authorising test stations and approving MOT testers.

Taking the MOT Test

Vehicles must be tested at an authorised MOT garage. Test stations can be identified by a blue, three-triangle logo. The MOT test can be carried out up to 28 days before the expiry date on the MOT certificate. The expiry date on the new certificate will be 12 months from the expiry date of the old certificate.

Documents required when taking a test

What the MOT test checks

During the MOT test, the following items are checked to ensure that they meet legal requirements:

  • Body and vehicle structure
  • Exhaust system and exhaust emissions
  • Fuel system
  • Seats and seat belts
  • Tyres and wheels
  • Windscreen
  • Registration plates
  • Lights
  • Brakes
  • Mirrors
  • Boot/tailgate and bonnet/hood
  • Wipers and washers
  • Horn
  • Steering and suspension
  • Emission

The UK Government website publishes a full list of all points examined during the MOT test.

Vehicles built after 1 August 1980 will also have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) checked.

Once the vehicle has been tested the results are entered into a central database. Police can use this database to check if the car's MOT certificate is up to date. If the car passes the test successfully, a receipt (an A4-sized MOT pass test certificate), form VT20 is issued.

If the vehicle fails the test, the owner is given a failure notice, form VT30. In general if the vehicle is repaired and re-tested before the end of the following working day, no retest fees apply.

If the vehicle passes the test the owner may also be given an advisory notice, form VT32, along with the MOT test certificate. This form advises the owner of items on the car that may need attention in the near future.

Cost

The maximum fee that can be charged by the test centre must be displayed at the garage, fees may be lower than the price displayed but not more.

Lost MOT Certificates

If an MOT certificate is lost or damaged a new one can be purchased at any testing centre. A vehicle registration certificate or MOT test number is required for this.

MOT Status and History

A vehicle's MOT status or MOT history can be checked online. The previous MOT test number from either the VT20 test certificate or the VT30 refusal certificate is required. Alternatively the document reference number from the V5C registration certificate can be used.