The extension has been introduced to maintain essential workers’ legal capacity to drive and to limit the potential for further spreading of COVID-19.
According to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the extension “will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work and people to get essential food and medicine.”
Who is eligible for the MOT extension?
Your MOT certificate should have been automatically extended by six months if it was due to expire on or after 30 March 2020 if your vehicle is one of the following:
- Light van
- Other light vehicle
For trailers, lorries and buses, there is a separate three-month extension, which became applicable from 21 March 2020. Drivers of these vehicles may need to apply for the extension manually, however, so it’s worth checking the Government’s advice on this if you’re unsure.
How will the MOT extension work?
Drivers of vans, motorcycles and cars whose MOT was due to expire on or after 30 March 2020 should have been automatically granted a six-month extension. This newly introduced piece of legislation will exist for a minimum of 12 months and will be subject to revision only after 30 March 2021. MOT centres have been permitted to stay open during lockdown.
The extension also applies to brand-new vehicles—they will simply be given a six-month extension from the date their first MOT was due. The extension will be applied around seven days prior to your MOT’s expiry date. So if your MOT was due to expire on 19 May, it now won’t expire until 19 November.
There will be no paper exemption certificate issued, although any driver who wishes to check their vehicle’s current MOT status may do so using the government’s MOT history checker. Drivers who are eligible for the extension will still be able to renew their vehicle tax as usual.
Garages will remain open during lockdown for essential repair work, and the Government have stressed that vehicles must be kept safe and maintained at a roadworthy condition, with all lights working and all tyres kept with sufficient tread depth. Drivers operating unsafe vehicles could be fined up to £2,500 and receive three points on their licence.
What if the automatic extension hasn’t been applied to my MOT?
Three days before your MOT’s original expiry date, check whether it has been extended. If it hasn’t, email [email protected] to seek advice. You will need to provide your MOT’s original expiry date and your vehicle registration number. Your advisor will update your vehicle record, and provide you with confirmation that this has been done.
What if I’m self-isolating?
The Government have stressed that no-one should seek out an MOT if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 (or living with or have had contact with someone who has). They should instead self-isolate and delay booking their MOT until their period of self-isolation has completed and they are symptomless.
If your vehicle tax is due to expire during self-isolation but a lack of valid MOT means you’re unable to renew it, the Government have advised that drivers should register their vehicle as off the road by applying for a Statutory Off-Road Notification. That being said, tax regulations will continue to be enforced as usual, so there is not yet any clear solution for those who don’t have access to off-road parking.
What are the insurance implications?
Car insurance requires a valid MOT, but the Government’s MOT extension will not render your car insurance policy redundant.
However, some of the further implications of the MOT extension are unclear. According to the Department for Transport, insurers and the police will be asked to not unfairly penalise drivers whose MOT has expired, but this does not provide complete clarity or peace of mind for those whose car is essential—especially in the event of an accident or breakdown. It is recommended that anyone who is concerned should check for updates on the matter as they are released from the Government.
There are currently only two exceptions to driving without a valid MOT:
- Driving to a pre-booked MOT test
- Driving to or from a garage for essential repairs
However, remember that the roadworthiness of your vehicle is ultimately your responsibility. Do not drive a vehicle if you know it has problems or if reasonable judgement leads you to conclude that the vehicle would be unlikely to pass an MOT.
Don’t drive unless it’s essential to do so
Despite the unprecedented change to the rules on MOTs—as well as the relaxing of the charges on congestion and ultra-low-emission zones in central London—the Government’s advice remains clear: stay home and limit your travel to essential shopping trips, medication collection and driving to an area for exercise.
The new legislation on MOTs will ensure that key workers may continue to use their vehicles legally, and in so doing keep the economy afloat and the country functional. Moreover, the MOT extension will reduce how many people are visiting garages and thus bolster social distancing.