The UK Mot Quick Guide

You most likely are already familiar with the MOT, which is the annual test given in Britain for vehicle emissions, road worthiness and safety. In Great Britain, the MOT is legally required, so it pays to understand it thoroughly.

However, we know that at some point everybody must take their first MOT. That is why we have compiled this quick guide to everything that needs to be considered when you take in your vehicle to get its annual check-up.

When does a MOT need to be done?

The MOT test has been designed to make sure that your vehicle meets environmental and road safety standards. It must be carried out on an annual basis.

MOT Garage
MOT Station

You are legally required to have a MOT done on your vehicle either on:

The third year anniversary after it was registered, or

If the vehicle is more than three-years-old, on the anniversary of the last MOT.

(Note: There are a couple of vehicles that must have to be tested after being on the road for only one year. To see whether this requirement applies to your vehicle, check the government MOT fees table).

You may be fined as much as £1000 when you drive a vehicle without having a valid MOT. Therefore, it pays to have the test done on time.

When is the earliest that a MOT can be done?

The MOT is certified for one year. Its expiration date is printed on its most recent certificate. You can have a MOT done up to one month (less on the day) before the certificate running out and still be allowed to retain your same renewal date.

For instance, if your MOT expiration date is 14th May 2017, then the earliest that you can have your next one done and still keep your same renewal date is 15th April 2017.

You can have your MOT done earlier than that if you would like. However, for the following year your renewal date will be different.

Once your MOT runs out, you cannot drive your vehicle legally on the road. If you are caught, you will be prosecuted. This rule does have two exceptions to it:

If you are driving either to or from someplace to get your vehicle repaired, or:

If you are headed to take your pre-arranged MOT test.

How the MOT test works

Many safety components of your vehicle are checked to make sure they meet all legal standards. You may watch the test if you’d like from the viewing area. However, you cannot interrupt the individual who is performing the test.

Obtaining your test results

The MOT is a pass or fail test. If your vehicle fails the test, you are provided with a list of things that must be repaired before it can pass the MOT.

If your vehicle passes, then the test centre will provide you with a MOT certificate and your test results are recorded within the national MOT database of Great Britain.

What If your vehicle fails?

Failures do unfortunately happen, If your car does fail, the test centre will give you a ‘Refusal of a MOT test certificate.’ This result is also recorded on the MOT database.

You do have the right to appeal the result.

With a fail, if you still have a valid MOT certificate you may take your car away. However, if your MOT has expired, you will need to take your car and have all of the failed defects repaired.

If you would like to appeal, what happens?

As previously mentioned, a MOT test failure decision can be appealed against. You may also file a complaint with the Drivers and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA).

You can choose to take action against a MOT test centre if you would like through reporting the test centre to the police, or through legal proceedings or trading standards. The DVSA, of course, will not help you with taking action against a test centre.

You may review the MOT status page here to check this.

Does the MOT have any exceptions to it?

Yes there are a couple of vehicles where a MOT is not required:

Electric-powered goods vehicles
Motorcycles and cars made before 1960
There is still a test required for trailers, buses and lorries, but it is not the MOT.

For more information on the annual test required for these vehicles, click here.