The MOT lowdown

By Alicia Jarvis
Updated on July 29, 2021


Your car requires an MOT certificate. When is it legal to drive it without an MOT certificate? 

When driving to an appointment at an MOT centre – Before an automobile can be driven on the road, it must pass a MOT test and have a current MOT certificate if it is three years old (four years old in Northern Ireland). You may drive to a pre-arranged MOT test session without an MOT. Some vehicles are exempt from MOTs.


MOT exempt cars, vans, motorcycles

The MOT test is required for most vehicles three years and older. You must have a current MOT test certificate if your vehicle is more than three years old and is not exempt from the MOT test. You won’t be able to tax your vehicle unless you have it.

Cars, vans, motorcycles, and other light passenger vehicles produced or initially registered more than 40 years ago are exempt from the MOT test, unless they have been significantly modified during the past 30 years. Guidance on what constitutes a significant change may be found at

Owners are still legally required to ensure that these cars are safe and in full working order before allowing them to be driven on the road, and they can be tested voluntarily.


What is the purpose of an MOT?

The MOT test ensures that your vehicle’s safety and environmental systems and components satisfy the minimal regulatory criteria. The test must be performed annually by a vehicle testing station designated by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).