All you need to know about the new classic car MoT rules

Confused about the new UK MoT regulations? Here’s how it works – and which classic cars, motorbikes, buses, coaches and HGVs will be exempt from MoT testing

In association with

New MoT regulations for classic vehicles of all types in the UK are coming into effect on May 20, 2018. It should be simple, with classic vehicles exempt from the MoT once they turn 40 years of age – but it’s more complicated than that.

Here’s everything you need to know as the custodian of a classic vehicle come MoT time.

Pertinent points first:

  • The new Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI) system works entirely on a self-declaration basis; the onus is 100 percent on the owner, so being truthful is key
  • With standard classic vehicles, the process is straightforward; read on below
  • It’s more in-depth when we’re talking substantially modified vehicles. Read on below, and find out even more info here. It’s complicated, so be prepared…
  • The day of reckoning depends on the exact date your vehicle was registered. When you next re-licence it (apply for road tax) after that date, you’ll have to do a bit of research, make some decisions and take action to declare your vehicle VHI (and therefore MoT exempt) or otherwise
  • New VHI class rules supersede previous ones concerning vehicles registered before 1960
  • First-time applications for the VHI class must be done by completing a V112 declaration form at your local Post Office. This can’t be done online. More info below

See also...

Classic cars, motorcycles and vans MoT rules

Motorcycles, cars and light commercial vehicles registered more than 40 years ago can be declared as Vehicles of Historic Interest (VHIs), which makes them exempt from the MoT test.

For example, if a car was first registered on May 31, 1978 – you won’t need an MoT as of 31 May, 2018 onwards.

You don’t have to apply for MoT exemption. But each time you tax your historic vehicle – even if you don’t pay a fee – you’ll have to declare it ‘meets the rules for not needing an MoT’. This is your responsibility – so if your vehicle is found to be unroadworthy, you will be prosecuted.

Naturally, with a set date of 40 years old, this slices certain classic car production runs in half. Straddling both sides of the cut-off date are the likes of the Ford Escort Mk2, Austin Allegro, Land Rover Series III and Range Rover Classic, Rover SD1 and Vauxhall Chevette.

You must check your car’s registration date before assuming that your classic is exempt. You can do that by entering your license plate into the DVLA’s online MoT checker.

There’s more important information on licensing further down the page.

Classic buses and coaches MoT rules

All buses and coaches, whether or not they are in commercial use, built – not registered – before 1960 are entitled to be declared as a VHI. This makes them exempt from the MoT test.

Buses and coaches not in commercial use but built more than 40 years ago are also classified as a VHI, not requiring an MoT.

Classic cars for sale now

Classic Heavy Goods Vehicle MoT rules

HGVs built before 1960 and not in commercial use are also declared as VHIs and thus escape the MoT test – as long as they do not travel laden or towing a laden trailer.

Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) built after 1960, regardless of their use, are not entitled to any exemption from the MoT test – irrespective of whether or not they are in the ‘historic’ taxation class.

These guidelines have been set out in the Department for Transport’s consultation response. Therefore, they are here to stay and not further to discussion.

Keep scrolling! There’s more important information coming.

Do modified classics need an MoT?

As of May 20, 2018 – any vehicle ‘substantially changed’ within the previous 30 years will need to be submitted for an annual MoT test. The Department for Transport explains that: ‘If a vehicle keeper cannot determine that the vehicle has not been substantially changed, they should not claim an exemption from the MoT test.’

How can you tell what determines ‘substantial change’? There’s a lot to it, so we’d advice reading our full guide to modified classics and MoTs.

Do restored classics need an MoT?

Even if a classic has been reshelled during a restoration, fitted with replacement engine or running gear, or uprated components it can still be given VHI status.

Q-plates and kit cars

A vehicle will be considered to have been substantially changed and will not be exempt from MoT testing if...

It has been issued with a registration number on a ‘Q’ prefix

It is a kit car assembled from components from different makes and model of vehicle

It is a reconstructed classic vehicle as defined by DVLA guidance

It is a kit conversion, where a kit of new parts is added to an existing vehicle, or old parts are added to a kit of a manufactured body, chassis or monocoque bodyshell changing the general appearance of the vehicle

However, if any of the four types of vehicle listed above is already taxed as a ‘historic vehicle’ and has not been modified during the previous 30 years, it can be considered a Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI) – and hence MoT-exempt.

This guidance is only intended to determine the testing position of a substantially changed vehicle, not its registration.

The self-declaration process

As of May 20, 2018, there will be a new self-declaration process to be carried out as part of annual licensing through the DVLA by a keeper of a qualifying vehicle who doesn’t want to submit the vehicle to an MoT test.

By declaring your vehicle doesn’t require an MoT test, you therefore confirm that the vehicle is at least 40 years old and has not been substantially changed in the previous 30 years. It is your responsibility to accurately describe your vehicle, as no inspection will be made.

How to declare your classic as a VHI

Declaration as a Vehicle of Historic Interest is to be made at the time of relicensing, as the Department for Transport considers it too ‘administratively complex’ to permit the required declaration to be made prior to the re-licensing date.

For example, your car might turn 40 years old on, say, August 12, but the tax might not run out until the end of October – so you can’t have it recorded as a VHI until you renew the tax in October. Can you still go without an MoT from the date that the vehicle turns 40?

Yes you can, but you must declare the vehicle as an MoT-exempt VHI when the tax does run out – ie in October in the example above.

DVLA will use the date of first registration to determine when a vehicle becomes 40 years old, flagging the vehicle as being MoT exempt. This does not apply to an HGV, bus or coach in commercial use.

Should you not declare your classic as a VHI when re-taxing, the requirement for an MoT will reappear on the DVLA record. This vehicle record is updated every two months for police use.

The police will therefore accept every vehicle older than 40 years as MoT exempt unless the record states an MoT is required.

How to declare a vehicle for MoT exemption

From May 20, when you tax the vehicle, you can declare the vehicle as a VHI and therefore MoT exempt once beyond the 40th anniversary date. When declaring the exemption you will be asked to confirm that it has not been substantially changed.

This process will be applied to vehicles registered before 1960, even thought they’re already MoT-exempt, alongside the newer vehicles in the historic vehicle class.

If your classic doesn’t have an MoT but you wish to continue using it on public roads, you can go for two options:

Undergo an MoT or claim exemption from future MoTs by relicensing to declare your car as a VHI.

If this is the first time applying for the historic vehicle class, you cannot claim exemption online. This must be done at your local Post Office.

You will be required to complete a V112 declaration form to declare MoT exemption.

There’s more information on this here.

Classic Cars for Sale