MOT in Northern Ireland – the need to know!

We can all agree the current MOT saga leaves a lot to be desired in Northern Ireland, whether you are a private car owner or in the motor trade.  What started as a backlog from the discovery of 55 ramps being unfit / unsafe for use and the added delays that COVID brought to that has now evolved into the current  fiasco we are witnessing on the news every other week, leaving motorists frustrated and uncertain as to what is the correct protocol when it comes to getting your car MOT in the current climate.

As a member of the IMDA (Independent Motor Dealer Association) myself and other N.I. Dealers brought to their attention that we are hugely struggling with getting MOT appointments for cars that we have for sale unlike our counterparts across the water who can with ease attain an MOT apt from the independent garages that carry out the tests over there.  We highlighted that as part of our reputations and best practice customer service we always prep our cars fully for sale and that included if it needed an MOT within a few months it got that before being placed on the forecourt for sale.  The reason for this being that it adds to a customers peace of mind when buying a car and also is FULLY necessary for a car that is 4yr old or more to have an MOT in place in order to tax it for a new keeper.

The IMDA set about getting in contact with the DVA in N.I. and promptly set up a meeting, where myself and 2 other N.I car dealers  attended  with the senior members of the DVA operations at their new offices in Hydebank, Belfast.  (Also the location of the new – yet to open Hydebank MOT centre).

We had come together with over 70 other frustrated N.I dealers who had all put forward their input as to how we thought this process could perhaps be made easier in some way to allow us to work together with the DVA in trying to meet the needs of the many vehicles needing an MOT certificate. As it is nothing much has changed in terms of the processes except that you can now book your MOT up to 5months before the test is due.  So get writing in your diaries now to remind yourself  and  we will continue to illustrate the need for change in N.I in some kind of way in order to sufficiently meet the needs of all the Drivers needing MOT’s for their vehicle’s here.

I could write pages on my frustrations around the whole MOT system in N.I over the last 4 years but I won’t because it won’t change anything so I am going to bring clarification to what YOU as a vehicle owner need to do in order to stay on the right side of not only the DVA / DVLA and the PSNI but also your insurers and of course your and others ROAD SAFETY!  

First thing is you need to book your MOT a LOT earlier than previous years so I wouldn’t wait on the reminder (if you are lucky enough to receive one!). I discovered recently that there is no longer the 3 month window before which you can book – so put in your diary to book it 3 to 4 months in advance.

Now that you have your MOT test apt date – great! BUT if it is an apt for AFTER the date your test is due but not BEFORE your tax has expired then You need to;

ENSURE your car is road safe– Take it to your Mechanic for an MOT Check.  The receipt can act as proof (should you require it) of you having taken the responsibility to have your car checked over.

It’s important for you and your passengers sake to know that having an APT date does not mean you are automatically  ‘OK’ to drive on the roads – your car NEEDS to be Road safe.

Your Tyres need checked, your Lights need checked (especially but not limited to Brake and Indicator Lights) and if you haven’t had your brakes checked in a while get them checked!

Police and Insurer Stance 

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has agreed not to Penalise the driver of a Vehicle whose MOT CERT date has expired SO LONG AS;

A. The Vehicle is Roadworthy (as above get it checked over then you have proof you have fulfilled your legal requirements)

B. The Vehicle is Properly Insured

C. The driver can provide proof that a test date is booked.

INSURERS –  The ABI has confirmed that the lack of an MOT cert would not necessarily invalidate a Motor insurance policy, providing the driver had taken measures to ensure their car remains Roadworthy.  It states that if a customer can not get a date until after their current MOT date expires they SHOULD CHECK THEIR POLICY OR CONTACT THEIR INSURANCE.  They remind drivers it is their responsibility for maintaining their vehicles condition.


If your vehicle tax is expiring and you currently have no MOT on your car and can not get a closer date on the online system, you can contact the DVA helpline on 0300 200 7861 for an urgent apt (up to 10 Days before your tax expires not before!) OR copy and paste the link at the bottom of the email and fill in the electronic form to attain an emergency date.


Trying to get a cancellation?

Essentially if your car is Road safe and is currently taxed then there really is no advantage in looking for a cancellation, the DVA certainly aren’t going to give you an urgent apt if your car / van is taxed and there is no point in trying to call them as they will tell you just that!

Meanwhile, follow these 5 simple points on how to keep your vehicle ROAD SAFE 

  1. Ensure your tyres are safe – Legal limit is 1.6mm tread but really for your own safety try to change just before they reach that limit.  Check Tyres for unusual Bulges or wear to inside or outside and have your car aligned if necessary

  2. Good Practice is to check your lights are working once a week – have someone look out for them whilst you run through them.

  3. Ensure you have water in your window washers and that your wipers are not worn! Worn wipers could cost you a windscreen.

  4. Ensure your Horn is working!

  5. Check other levels such as Engine oil and Coolant regularly.

LINK BELOW for Urgent appointments   or call 0300 200 7862

Just to note when you fill in this form for an urgent apt – the call you will receive will be from a Private Tel no!  (I have been known to answer this call with Cool Fm’s winning phrase ‘ Make me a winner’ on many an occasion!)




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