person with clipboard checking inside a car

MOT Certificates Explained

Every year your car goes through its MOT test and you go through the agonising couple of hours of waiting for the phone to ring to see just how much it’s going to cost you this time around. An ideal MOT sees the car given back to you with no issues whatsoever, and a piece of paper on the passenger seat that confirms your car is safe to be on the road – but what exactly is that piece of paper, and why is it so important?

What is an MOT certificate?

An MOT certificate is a document that confirms your car has been checked thoroughly and is in line with the various environmental and road safety standards required to be legally on the road at the point of being tested. 

How long is an MOT certificate usually valid for?

Most MOT certificates will be valid for a year from the date of your last MOT test, and the date of expiry will be written onto the certificate itself.  You can, however, have this certificate renewed up to one month before its expiry, minus a day, so if your expiry date was the 15th of August, you can renew from the 16th of July.

When is it legal to drive without an MOT certificate?

The only time you will be able to drive your car on a public highway without an MOT certificate is if you are driving to a pre-booked MOT test, or driving from the test centre following a failure to get the car fixed ahead of a retest.

Can I tax my car without an MOT certificate?

Since a valid MOT certificate determines whether your car is legally allowed on the road or not, to not have an MOT makes it impossible to renew your road tax without getting a retest. If your car fails its MOT while you still have time left on your tax, make sure you SORN the vehicle to be able to receive a refund on unused tax. While you’ll have to pay tax on the months leading up to the failed test, you should be able to claim a refund for every full month remaining. Driving without tax or a valid MOT is illegal and can invalidate your insurance, as well as putting you at risk of fines and points on your licence.

How can I get a copy of my MOT certificate?

If you have lost or damaged your MOT certificate, then getting a replacement is quite a simple process. Simply visit the gov.uk website along with the vehicle registration details and the 11-digit number from your V5C registration document, and you’ll be able to access your MOT certificates free of charge. You can also ask any MOT centre to do the same with the same information, although they may charge you up to £10 for this service.

Can I check my MOT certificate online?

All MOT certificates are now stored on the DVLA database, and you can check any car’s MOT status by providing the registration number – which allows you to check in on an old car if you were curious what it was up to these days. This check will provide you with the car’s full MOT history, including details on any failures or advisories. However, if you want to view the test certificate, you will also need the 11-digit number from the V5C registration document, as above.

What does an MOT certificate look like?

An MOT certificate is quite a plain document, often just in black and white featuring the DVLA logo in the top right hand corner of the page. The certificate will detail any reasons for failure or advisories, if relevant.

We have presented a number of examples below, which can be found on the government website:

How to find your MOT certificate number

Each MOT test will have an identification number, much like each individual car or driver has their own on their V5C and driving licences respectively. To see what your MOT certificate number is, simply look at the certificate itself, and it will be listed under the details of the MOT test centre and comes in the form of a 12-digit number.

Can you sell a car without an MOT certificate?

There is no legal requirement for a car to have a valid MOT before it is sold, and if you are concerned that the repairs required to the car sit beyond your capabilities, or will cost you too much at a garage, then selling to someone willing to take on them on is absolutely an option – however expect the value of the car to drop significantly for what the car could fetch should it have a valid MOT.

Can you scrap a car without an MOT certificate?

Having a valid MOT is not a requirement to be able to scrap a car, in fact a lot of the times cars that are unable to obtain are destined for the scrapper’s yard for that very reason. The only documents you’ll need to be able to scrap a car are a proof of ID and the V5C, in order to show that you are indeed the owner of the car.


If your car has recently failed its MOT, then you may be starting to think that scrapping is for you – that’s where we at Scrap Car Comparison come in. We guarantee we’ll get you the very best price for your car, and with buyers located all across the country we’ll even be able to arrange a collection for you, too – with no added or hidden fees. Get started today by using our free online quote generator and see just how much your scrap car could be worth.

 
 

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