What to do if your car is due an MOT during the coronavirus lockdown

Coronavirus: Can I still get my car MOT'd during lockdown?

DVSA says it will not extend certificates as it did in first lockdown

THE UK is in its third lockdown due to the continuing danger posed by the coronavirus pandemic, and some drivers are wondering if they can still take their car to get an MOT test.

Although travel is now only permitted in certain circumstances, some people still need to use their cars and many will have MOTs due during the third lockdown period, with restrictions expected to last until March 31, 2021, though they will gradually loosen during the final month as areas re-enter tiers.

With people told to only leave their homes for vital reasons, however, some are confused about whether or not they can, or should, get their car tested.

Are vehicles’ MOT expiration dates extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

During the first coronavirus lockdown in Spring 2020, the Department for Transport announced that vehicle owners would be granted an emergency six month MOT exemption, as part of the ongoing fight against coronavirus.

Drivers whose car was due an MOT between March 30, 2020 and July 31, 2020 were given a six month extension on their MOT certificate — meaning MOTs that were due in July last year can still have their tests in January 2021.

However, the government has not made any such announcement during the third lockdown, despite its similarity with the first lockdown in terms of severity.

This means that if your MOT expires during the current lockdown, you should book a test and take your car to a garage as normal. Garages are classed as essential services by the government and have stayed open during all three lockdowns, while non-essential services have been told to close.

When asked if the government was considering an extension on MOT certificates, a spokesperson for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency said: “The DVSA is committed to stopping the spread of coronavirus while helping everyone keep their vehicle safe to drive. The MOT test helps motorists ensure their vehicle is safe and roadworthy.

“MOT garages are open and are following Government guidance about working safely during the coronavirus.”

Do garages want another extension on MOT certificates?

Some independent garages have said that they would support the introduction of another MOT extension or temporary suspension of MOTs in order to prevent interaction between garage employees and customers.

One garage in Suffolk told ITV that an 85-year old man had waited outside for an hour while his MOT was done so that he could drive to get his vaccination the following day.

However, the Independent Garage Association (IGA) told Driving.co.uk that it did not think another MOT extension was necessary.

CEO Stuart James said: “Garages have gone to extremely great lengths to ensure that premises are safe for consumers. They are making sure their staff are kept in the back, in the office, and don’t have any interaction with the customers.”

He also said that the IGA was carrying out audits to ensure that independent garages were Covid secure and noted that one in three cars fails its MOT. “We know the disruption the last exemption caused. It left a lot of illegal cars on the road,” he said.

When mustn’t I take my vehicle for an MOT?

The government says that you should not take your car to a garage if:

  • You or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms
  • You’ve been contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service that you’ve been in contact with someone who has coronavirus
  • You are self-isolating because you recently entered the UK

Are the rules the same in all UK countries?

The rules outlined above apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

Vehicle testing in Northern Ireland is limited due to the coronavirus pandemic, but available to vehicles that meet certain criteria. These are:

  • Four year old private cars and motorcycles, including four year old cars that received a sixth-month Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC)
  • Three year-old Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs)
  • All private cars, motorcycles and LGVs that have taken advantage of a 12-month TEC
  • All Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and trailers that were due a test after September 1, 2020

How do I get my MOT done if I am self-isolating?

If you are self-isolating or clinically vulnerable and shielding but your car is due an MOT, many garages are offering collection and delivery services, whereby they will collect your car, complete its MOT, and drive it back to you.

An IGA survey found that 88% of independent garages are currently offering this service. It also estimated that two thirds of the 12% who are not currently offering the service would be prepared to if the customer was vulnerable.

A spokesperson for Kwik-Fit, which operates 600 centres across the UK, said: “We encourage any of our customers who have an issue in getting their car to us for an MOT due to Covid restrictions to contact their local Kwik Fit centre team. They will do their utmost to make the necessary arrangements for getting the car tested.”

Is the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) operating during the third lockdown?

The DVLA, which maintains the database of vehicles and driving licences in the UK, online services have not been affected by lockdown, and you can complete administrative tasks like applying for a driving licence, renewing a driving licence or taxing a vehicle through its website.

However, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which is responsible for carrying out driving tests, approving instructors and ensuring vehicles are safe to drive, has been affected by the pandemic — it has been forced to suspend both theory tests and practical driving tests due to the risks posed by coronavirus. The agency told Driving.co.uk that it would not support propositions to allow driving instructors to pass learner drivers.