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MoT exemption for 30 year old vehicles

Published 24 October 2014

A consultation process currently under way to gauge opinion over proposed changes to Britain’s MoT regulations is almost at an end – and the eventual result could affect anybody running a car, motorcycle or commercial vehicle over thirty years old. If the UK falls in line with EU proposals, such vehicles could be exempt from undergoing annual MoT testing.

You can thank the European Union’s Directive 2014/45/EU for the rules and regulations relating to roadworthiness testing within each member state, although Britain has traditionally gone further in its testing regulations than many other European countries. Under the Directive, for example, cars and vans are permitted a maximum test-free period of four years from new; after that they must be tested at least every two years (unless exempted). Britain, however has traditionally insisted on annual testing, with the first MoT taking place when a vehicle is three years old.

This looks unlikely to change, as a previous Government consultation has ruled out bi-annual testing for the UK. However, 2012 saw the introduction of MoTexemption for vehicles built prior to 1 January, 1960, following research by the Department for Transport (DfT) which found that classic cars are generally better maintained and have much lower accident and MoT failure rates than newer vehicles.

Now, however, the DfT is gauging reaction to the exemption rule being extended. The EU Directive allows Governments to offer exemption to vehicles that are at least thirty years old, and so an official DfT website has been set up to gauge public reaction and to explain more about the possible MoT changes.

It says, ‘In Great Britain we can decide if we want to exempt cars and vans of “historic interest”, but only if they “have not been subject to substantial change”. Or we could choose to introduce bi-annual testing for such vehicles without having to consider “substantial change”. If we do exempt cars and vans, we can decide how old they should be before they’re exempted from testing and how to define “substantial change”.’

This is where recent confusion surrounding the issue of MoT testing has come about. The EU suggests thirty years as a cut-off date for exemption, but Governments can choose to include only older vehicles if preferred – such as Britain’s current ruling on pre-1960 classics. The DfT therefore wants to know your views, including whether you think the exemption should be based on age (30, 40 or 50 years perhaps) or on a fixed date of manufacture (as currently).

The website will be accepting your views up until the end of October. To tell the DfT what you think, simply complete the survey at: There you’ll also find links to separate sites allowing you to post detailed comments relating to MoT exemption, including your thoughts on what should constitute ‘substantial change’.

Meanwhile, this Wednesday (October 22nd) will see the All Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicle Group discussing the issue at Westminster, and the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs will be releasing its own statement later that day. We’ll bring you the FBHVC’s response as soon as it’s made available.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Would you welcome MoT exemption for vehicles over thirty years old or do you think that’s a step too far? What MoT changes would you like to see – if any? Whatever your opinion, post your comments below or send an email


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