In the United Kingdom, a car must pass an MOT test every year after it has reached 3 years of age.
There are only two outcomes of an MOT test: pass or fail. Whether a vehicle has passed or failed its MOT is referred to as the MOT status of a vehicle.
When a car passes its MOT, the owner will receive a certificate as evidence that the car is roadworthy. If you misplace your MOT certificate, or want to know the date of the last MOT for a new vehicle you are looking to purchase, this can easily be checked online.
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What is an MOT Certificate?
An MOT test checks that your vehicle complies with health and safety regulations as well as environmental regulations in the UK. Passing the MOT means that your car is legally roadworthy in the United Kingdom. However, it is not the same as subjecting your car to a general service and does not guarantee the general mechanical condition of your vehicle.
When your car passes its MOT, you will be issued with an MOT certificate by the garage that tested your vehicle. The certificate is essentially a slip of paper which should be kept in a safe place but can be easy to lose. Thankfully, all of the results from MOTs are stored centrally online which means that you can log on at any time to check the status of your car’s MOT, even if you no longer have the certificate.
How to check MOT status
In the past, testers asked why it wasn’t possible to easily check the MOT status of a vehicle. It caused lots of problems with the sale of second hand cars, especially when the certificates had been lost. This is why, in 2005, a computerised system was introduced to make this much simpler.
Now, by visiting www.gov.uk/check-mot-status you will be able to check your MOT status online. All you need to do is to enter the registration plate of the vehicle and either the MOT test number (which will be on the VT20 test or the VT30 refusal certificate you received when you took your car in to be tested) or the document reference number which is found on the logbook if you no longer have the MOT test number.
Check MOT due date
If you visit the same website and follow the same steps as you would to check the MOT status of a vehicle, you will also be able to see the date of your car’s last MOT test, the expiry date of this test and the mileage of the vehicle at the time of the MOT. So if you have lost the details of when your car will next be due for its MOT, you can log on to www.gov.uk/check-mot-status to find out. You can check these details for any car; you just need to make sure that you have the details necessary to enter into the online database.
MOT certificate validity check
If you are looking to buy a second hand car and you have any doubts as to whether the MOT certificate which has been issued is genuine or not, you can also use this online database to check these details. By checking the details which are written on the certificate against what is registered online, you will know whether or not the MOT is the most up-to-date record of the car’s test history or whether it has been forged for some reason.
It is extremely important to know that a car you are purchasing has an up-to-date MOT for two reasons. Firstly, once an MOT test has expired, that vehicle may only be driven on route to a garage, so driving it home from the showroom could be illegal. Secondly, there may be a reason why it hasn’t passed its MOT, in which case you could end up having to pay a lot of money to make vital repairs to the car you have just purchased.
Vehicles exempt from MOT tests
The vast majority of vehicles on the road will need to have an MOT each year. But there is a short list of vehicles where this does not apply. They include:
- goods vehicles powered by electricity
- any vehicle less than 3 years old
- cars and motorbikes made before 1960
If you would like to double check whether or not your vehicle is exempt from MOT testing, you can visit www.gov.uk and find form V112 which lists all of the vehicles which are currently exempt. If you find that your vehicle is on the list then you will need to fill out the form and return it to the address listed at the top.
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