person with clipboard checking inside a car

When is a vehicle MOT exempt?

For the vast majority of cars on the road, the annual trip to the MOT centre is cemented in the calendar as the start of another year of being allowed to drive around. However, for a number of cars an MOT isn’t required and they can pootle along on their merry way, so long as there’s nothing majorly wrong that would make it unsafe, of course.

So what cars fit into these categories, and how does it all work?

A car drives past a sign for an MOT testing centre

What does MOT exempt mean?

MOT exempt means that your car does not require an MOT in order to be deemed road legal. For most cars, driving a car without a valid MOT can land you a fine and points on your licence, as well as being unable to get your car taxed, which will again make your car illegal if you drive without tax. Cars that are MOT exempt are still required to have tax and insurance, but will not have to obtain an MOT certificate before doing so.

When is a car MOT exempt?

The most common reason cars are MOT exempt is due to their age, with cars younger than three years old not required to go through the MOT process. It is also the same for any car that was first built or registered over 40 years ago and no ‘substantial changes’ have been made in the past 30 years such as replacing the chassis, body, axles or engine. Other vehicles that don’t require an MOT are any electric goods vehicle registered prior to 1st March 2015, as well as tractors. 

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Do I need an MOT exemption certificate?

For any cars under three years old you do not need to complete any additional paperwork for your car, and can carry on as normal. However, if your car fits into one of the other categories of car exempt from MOTs, you will need to complete a V112 “Declaration of Exemption from MOT” form from the DVLA in order to be able to tax your vehicle. 

What year is MOT exempt?

Cars that are 40 years old and haven’t have any ‘substantial changes’ in the past 30 years are exempt, which at the time of writing, are cars registered from 1982 and earlier. 

When does a motorcycle become MOT exempt?

Motorcycle exemption rules match that of their four-wheel counterparts, so any motorcycle that is over 40 years old, or from 1982 and earlier, is exempt from getting an MOT.

How to check if a vehicle is MOT exempt?

There is no simple way of checking if a vehicle is MOT exempt without familiarising yourself with the list of vehicles that is produced on the DVLA website. The full list is also available on the back of the V112 form, listing every range of vehicle that is exempt from MOT.

What vehicles are MOT exempt?

Aside from the 40+ year old cars mentioned above, there is a large range of vehicles that is exempt from MOTs. These include:

  • Tractors
  • Track laying vehicles
  • Articulated vehicles that are not lorries or buses
  • Works trucks
  • Invalid carriages weighing no more than 306kg unladen
  • Vehicles only used to carry the driver from one part of his own land to another, that would drive on the public road for no more than 6 miles a week
  • Taxis
  • Police vehicles maintained in an approved workshop
  • Electric goods vehicles produced prior to 2015
  • Trams
  • Vehicles that only drive on certain islands that do not have a suitable way for a motor vehicle to be conveniently driven to a road in the UK
  • Vehicles with a maximum speed of 15.5mph
  • Street cleaning vehicles that are either three-wheeled or has an inside track of less than 810mm
  • Public service vehicle that was built before the 1st January 1960 and has had no modifications
Wrenches resting on a car engine

Are police vehicles exempt from MOT?

If you suspect a police vehicle of driving without MOT, then there is a chance you could be correct – but you will not be catching the police out if you do this. Under the Motor Vehicles (Tests) Regulations of 1981, vehicles maintained in a government-approved workshop, which police cars are, are exempt from MOT, so while you think you may have caught the police breaking their own laws, there is no requirement for a police vehicle to have an MOT.

Are classic cars exempt from MOT?

Providing you have not made any substantial modifications to your car in the past 30 years, and it is at least 40 years old, then your classic car will be exempt from MOT. However, if you have made any changes to the chassis or monocoque subframe, engine or axles that deviate from the original specification, then you will need to get the car put through an MOT. 

Are recovery vehicles MOT exempt?

Recovery vehicles are only MOT exempt if you are purely using them to recover broken vehicles. If you use the truck for anything other than recovery work, even if it’s used just to nip down to the shops on a lunch break or to move sales cars around, it then requires an MOT. You will also be required to get an MOT if the recovery vehicle carries any other passengers other than those that have come from the broken down car that is being recovered.

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