Main article: Vehicle inspection

The blue 'three triangles' logo, which stations have to display, identifies approved MOT test stations.

The Ministry of Transport test (more usually: MOT - an initialism rather than an acronym) is an annual test of automobile safety, roadworthiness aspects and exhaust emissions which are applicable to most vehicles over three years old in the United Kingdom if they are used on public roads.

The name derives from the Ministry of Transport,[1] a defunct Government department which was one of several ancestors of the current Department for Transport, but is still officially used. The MOT test certificates are currently issued in Great Britain under the auspices of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), an agency within the Department for Transport. Certificates in Northern Ireland are issued by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA).

Many local car repair garages throughout Great Britain are authorised to perform testing and to issue certificates. In Northern Ireland tests are performed specifically at DVA Test Centres.


When originally instituted in 1960 by the then Ministry of Transport, the test applied to vehicles over ten years old. As of 2006, it applies to most road vehicles over three years old, including motorcycles. Ambulances, taxis, and passenger vehicles with nine or more seats need testing after one year, while some "limited use" and agricultural vehicles are exempt from test altogether.

The list of items tested has been continually expanded over the years. Recently a sophisticated exhaust gases emissions test has been introduced for vehicles with internal combustion engines — the required standard varies depending on the age and type of the engine. Some motorcycles and older vehicles are only required to pass a visual emissions check.

Test classification[]

The test grades are:

  • Class I — Mopeds and Motorcycles up to 199 cc
  • Class II — Motorcycles 200 cc and over
  • Class III — Tricycles and three wheeled cars
  • Class IV — Cars, Motor Caravans, Goods vehicles up to 3000 kg gross weight, Minibuses (with no more than 12 passenger seats)
  • Class V — Private buses (with more than 12 passenger seats and up to 16)
  • PSV test (Class VI) — Public Service Vehicles used for Hire or Reward with more than 8 passenger seats (Test conducted by VOSA/DVA staff, usually at their own stations)
  • Class VII — Goods vehicles (between 3000 kg and 3500 kg in gross weight)
  • HGV test — Goods vehicles over 3500 kg GVW and Trailers over 1020kg unladen weight or 3500kg GVW if fitted with over run brakes. (Test conducted by VOSA/DVA staff usually at their own stations, or at VOSA approved designated premises)

Rules and regulations for the United Kingdom[]

All test Stations are required to display a "VT9A Fees and Appeals" poster on their premises which must be available to the public. It gives information on all test types and information on what to do if a vehicle fails its MOT test.

MOT refers to the inspection itself. The actual designation for the pass certificate is VT20.

It is illegal to drive a non-exempt vehicle that requires a test on public roads without a current MOT,[2] except when driving to or from a pre-booked MOT Test. Possession of an up-to-date VT20 test certificate is a pre-requisite for obtaining a tax disc, and advertisements for used cars frequently say how many months are left to run on the current VT20 certificate. A vehicle could suffer major damage after an MOT has been carried out but the certificate would still be valid and obtaining a new one is not required under the test regulations (some insurance companies may ask for a new test but this is purely their own policy, not national law).

Vehicles used exclusively on certain islands or other areas mainly surrounded by water, being an island or area from which motor vehicles, unless constructed for special purposes can at no time be conveniently driven to a road in any other part of the United Kingdom by reason of the absence of any bridge, tunnel, ford or other way suitable for the passage of such motor vehicle are exempt from the requirement for a VT20 Certificate to obtain a tax disc.[3]


When a vehicle fails the MOT test it can be re-tested at the same station for a reduced price provided it is returned within a specific time period. If the vehicle remains at the test station for repair after failure then it can have a free re-test up to 10 working days after the original (the 10 days does not include weekends or bank holidays so the period is closer to two full weeks). If it is removed from the premises for repair and then returned before the end of 10 working days it can have a test at half the original fee paid (rounded down to the nearest penny). After the 10 day period a full fee can be charged again. The next day free re-test for certain failure items is still in place although some items have been removed (such as headlamp aim) which can be adjusted on the test if they are accessible and possible to do so with ease. A free re-test may be offered by the station at any point for marketing purposes.

Overview of the test[]

It is important to realise that the MOT test does not cover areas of a vehicle's mechanical condition that are not related to safety or emissions (important features such as the clutch, gear box or the entire engine are not tested). Neither does it determine whether or not after market features fitted are legal for use on the public highway, so a vehicle with a recent VT20 certificate could still have major mechanical defects or have features which would deem it illegal to be used on the road.

Some items that are tested for wear cannot be allocated specific limits to be examined to (e.g. whether a wiper adequately clears the screen or if the noise from an exhaust is too loud) without the addition of specialised and often expensive equipment. Also, any dismantling of any part of the vehicle during an MOT is strictly against test regulations so wear and tear on some items on certain models of vehicle might be difficult to properly ascertain (e.g. since wheels cannot be removed it might be difficult to determine the thickness of a brake pad). As the MOT is only a basic inspection for general road-worthiness the addition of such equipment would not be cost effective. In these instances the decision to pass or fail comes down to the discretion of the tester as he/she is classed as an expert in their field.

Any vehicle can be MOT tested even if the vehicle is unregistered (kit cars or imported vehicles). Imported vehicles that are MOT tested in the United Kingdom must meet British standards even if the importation is temporary. An example would be combined stop lamps and indicators commonly found on American vehicles which are not appropriate for use in the UK.

Appeals against MOT inspections[]

If a motorist who has recently had a vehicle MOT tested disagrees with the outcome of the inspection, they are entitled to an appeal against the decision. The appeal must be lodged with the VOSA/DVA within twenty-eight days of the original test date if the item(s) in question are mechanical in nature. Three months are allowed for corrosion issues, precluding the corrosion of brake discs, brake lines or the exhaust system. Mileage, or the lack thereof, incurred after the inspection has no relevance to the appeal even if the vehicle has not been used for several months after the test. If the items in question are repaired, replaced or removed from the vehicle, the ability for the motorist to appeal becomes null and void. Items on a vehicle that fail the MOT such as tyres or windscreen wiper blades may not be appealed against as they are quite simple to replace and therefore cannot be adequately determined if they were indeed the ones fitted at the time of inspection. To appeal against an MOT pass is free of charge however, to appeal against a failure will incur a fee whose value would amount to the normal maximum price of an MOT for that vehicle. This fee will then be refunded if the appellate inspection finds in favor of the motorist lodging the appeal. If the appellate inspection finds the vehicle was incorrectly diagnosed, the VOSA/DVA takes appropriate action against the station involved. This can range from penalty points being issued for minor infringements, to the station's MOT license being rescinded for more major violations. The VOSA/DVA has only the power to discipline the station involved and cannot pursue compensation of any kind for the complainant; that is the responsibility of Trading Standards. An MOT station cannot be held responsible for defects that occur to the vehicle several months after the test was conducted. The appeal process and how to lodge one is outlined on the reverse of the VT20 pass certificate and the VT30 failure notice.


It is a common misconception that the MOT inspection provides an irrefutable record of a vehicle's mileage. However, this is not true as although the mileage is recorded during the test no part of the inspection requires the test station to determine if this is indeed the actual mileage. It is merely recorded as a point of reference (in the same way the colour of the vehicle is) and any tampering of an odometer (or clocking) would not be determined as part of the MOT inspection and instances of this practice should be reported to the police.


From 30th of June 2008 the maximum fees were set as:

Class Vehicle Type Cost (30/06/2008 onwards)[4]
I Solo Motorcycles £28.65
II Motorcycle Combinations £36.55
III Three wheeled vehicles £36.55
IV Cars & light vans £54.00
IV Private Passenger Vehicles & Ambulances (9-12 Passenger Seats) £55.50
IVa Includes seat belt installation check £62.00
V Non-PSV minibuses and buses (13-16 passenger seats) £57.65
V Non-PSV minibuses and buses (17 or more passenger seats) £78.15
Va Non-PSV minibuses and buses with additional seat belts (13-16 passenger seats) £78.00
Va Non-PSV minibuses and buses with additional seat belts (17 or more passenger seats) £120.70
VII Light goods vehicles £56.75
n/a Partial retest fee Half test fee
n/a Maximum fee for duplicate test certificate £10.00

See also[]

  • National Car Test (Republic of Ireland)
  • Warrant of Fitness (New Zealand)
  • Shaken (Japan)

External links[]