MOT extension - everything we know about the new exemption for drivers

As measures to try and slow the spread of coronavirus have developed there has been a lot of confusion for motorists.

The decision to cancel driving tests was taken in stages and a similar approach was also taken to the vital MOT, with drivers unsure whether the test was cancelled and whether it counted as “essential travel”.

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After initially suspending testing for HGVs, the Department for Transport finally announced that from the end of March it was offering a six-month MOT extension to all car, van and bike owners.

Here's what that extension means for motorists.

Are MOTs cancelled?

The DVSA has not officially cancelled MOTs but the Department for Transport has announced that all light vehicles - cars, bikes and vans - due an MOT on or after March 30 will be granted an automatic six-month exemption without testing. The legislation will be in place for 12 months.

The move means drivers will not need to present their vehicle for testing but will be given an extension so the MOT will expire six months after its original expiry date.

However, the extension only applies to vehicles due their test on or after March 30. Any vehicle with an MOT that expires before that will still need to pass the test in order to be driven.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID19 are able to do so.

“Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people get essential food and medicine.

“Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work.”

What to do if you car is due an MOT soon

If your MOT is due on or after March 30, you do not need to do anything. Your vehicle will automatically be given a six-month extension from its MOT expiry date and online records will be updated to reflect this. Further guidance can be found here.

You must, however, keep your vehicle maintained in a roadworthy condition. And once the exemption expires you will have to submit your car/bike/van for testing.

If your MOT is due before March 30, it must pass the test before you are allowed to drive it.

Garages are classified as essential services and are allowed to remain open to carry out MOTs and essential repairs, so you should be able to get an MOT if your vehicle requires one.

However, if you or anyone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19, or you are classified as vulnerable to the virus, you must not take your car to an MOT centre. The DfT says it is working to ensure drivers in such situations aren't unfairly penalised.

What if my MOT has already expired?

If your car does not currently have a valid MOT, even if you missed the test because you were self-isolating, you cannot legally drive it. You either need to get it tested or make a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN).

You can check your car’s MOT status, including when it expires, via the DVSA website.

How to have an MOT carried out

Garages are considered an essential service and so, even as other businesses reduce their service or shut down entirely, MOT stations should remain open.

Many garages and online maintenance services are looking at ways to provide the test while reducing the risks to their staff and customers. Options including zero-contact handover of the vehicle are being explored by many businesses, along with special cleaning precautions.

Again, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID19, are already self-isolating or are classified as vulnerable to the virus, you must not take your vehicle to be tested and the DfT is working to ensure you will not be unfairly penalised.