When do I need an MOT?

Here’s how to check…

Asking yourself, “when do I need an MOT?” The answer depends on your car. 

You need to get an MOT done by the third anniversary of your vehicle’s registration OR the anniversary of its last MOT, if your vehicle is over 3 years old. 

Of course, vehicle admin can be overwhelming and remembering to check when you need an MOT can feel like yet another thing on a very long to-dolist. 

To help, we take you through how often you need an MOT, how to find out when your MOT is due, and whether you can drive without one. 

Ready? Let’s dive in. 

What is an MOT? A refresher.

MOT stands for Ministry of Transport. The MOT test is an annual mandatory check carried out on cars in the UK to make sure they meet legal standards of roadworthiness and exhaust emissions. 

Most new cars don’t require an MOT until they are three years old. For example, if your new personal vehicle was registered on the 1st of January 2023, you’ll only need an MOT by the 1st of January 2026.

The exception to this rule is taxis, ambulances and passenger vehicles with nine or more seats. These vehicles will need an MOT much sooner —  after only a year on the road. 

Why do I need an MOT?

An MOT ensures your vehicle is safe for you to drive and similarly that the other cars sharing the road meet a basic level of roadworthiness.  

In addition, you cannot tax your car without a current MOT certificate, and in the event of an accident your (legally required) insurance is likely to ask for this valid MOT certificate. 

Many insurers require your car to have a valid MOT before offering you coverage. And if your MOT is expired, any insurance claim in the event of an accident could be adversely affected.

How do I find out when my car’s MOT is due?

Once your new car has reached two years old, it’s a good time to double-check when your first MOT is due and set up a reminder. 

There are a number of ways you can keep up to date with your MOT renewal:

  • Firstly, for an older car, a quick glance at your current MOT certificate will let you know when it expires. The earliest you can book your next test and still retain the same renewal date will be a month minus one day before your current certificate expires. 

For example, if your MOT expires on the 2nd of August 2023, you can book your renewal test from the 1st of July 2023. It will then be extended until the 2nd of August 2024.

  • You can also check the MOT status of a vehicle online using the ‘Check MOT status’ page on the UK government’s website. All you need is your car’s registration plate, and in no time at all, you’ll have your answer!
  • Setting a reminder on your phone or computer to let you know when MOT time is approaching is also a good idea.

You can also use gov.uk’s handy online MOT reminders, which will send you a free notification by text or email one month before your MOT is due. Again, all you need is your vehicle’s registration number and mobile phone or email contact details.

It’s important to note, however, that if you live in Northern Ireland, you’ll be unable to use this service and will instead get a reminder by post seven weeks before your MOT is due.

How long can I drive after an MOT expires?

A common question is, “Can I drive without an MOT for a week?”. There has long been a myth that there is a grace period of 14 days after your MOT expires, during which you are able to continue to drive public roads legally. 

Sadly it’s just not true.

This urban legend and others that have you asking, “Is an MOT every two years now?” could prove costly. You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle with an expired MOT.  

The short and the long of it is that, if your car is on public roads, whether parked or in motion, you need to have a valid MOT, which you renew every year.

According to gov.uk, the only exception to this rule is if you’re driving your car to or from somewhere to be repaired, or to a pre-booked MOT test at a testing centre.

In this technological age, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has also computerised the MOT test system. This means that both mobile camera units and police patrols are able to check remotely whether you have a valid MOT certificate for your car. So, don’t risk it!

When should I renew my MOT?

The best practice is to take your car for its MOT renewal within the month before it expires, but with a few days’ safety net in the event your car fails the test for whatever reason. 

This will mean you have plenty of time to conduct any necessary repairs on your car before the current MOT becomes invalid and opens you up to prosecution.

You can also choose to renew your MOT more than a month before its official expiration date. This new certificate will be valid for 12 calendar months from the new test date. 

Other useful MOT facts to keep in mind.

You can change when your MOT comes due.

Your MOT will always expire on the same date annually. If this suits, you can continue to renew it within a month or less of that date every year in order to keep the same anniversary. 

However, if your MOT regularly falls over a particularly tight financial time, such as Christmas, the summer holidays or family birthdays, it’s possible to adjust its anniversary by renewing your MOT early. 

For example, if your MOT is due on the 24th of December 2023, you could choose to renew it early on the 1st of September 2023. This would see the next renewal required on the 1st of September 2024. 

It does mean that you’ll be spending money before you have to, but should this work better for you and your finances, the adjustment may be worth it.

Instances where you DON’T need an MOT.

We’ve already mentioned how personal vehicles under the age of three do not need an MOT, but is there any other time when a car does not legally require an MOT?

If your car is parked off the public road and on private land, is an electric vehicle registered before 1 March 2015, or belongs in the historic vehicles class, it may not require an MOT. Here is a comprehensive list of vehicles that are MOT-exempt. 

Cars kept off the road, in a garage, for example, need to be registered as such with a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) and are also exempt from being taxed.

How long does an MOT take?

On average, you’re looking at between 45 and 60 minutes for an MOT test. On occasion, it may take a little longer depending on how busy the test centre is and the condition of your car. 

How much does an MOT cost?

The maximum you can be charged for MOT testing on a car is £54.85. In comparison to the hefty fine you could face with an expired MOT, the £54.85 renewal pales in comparison.

You can read more about all the ins and outs of your car’s MOT testing here. And if you have a motorcycle, a motorcycle MOT is equally important

In summary

Staying on top of your vehicle’s MOT certification can keep you safe and help you avoid steep fines, all the while keeping you legally compliant.

And just as important as an MOT, is your car’s insurance. If it’s time for you to renew yours, contact A-Plan today for a competitive quote tailor-made for you.

Also read:
Can You Tax a Car Without an MOT?
Can You Insure a Car Without an MOT? 
Does a Caravan Need an MOT?