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MoT exemption for 30 year old vehicles?

Published 21 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 MoT exemption for vehicles built prior to January 1st, 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 to:



Mathers    on 21 October 2014

A stupid idea.
MOT's are a good thing, even more so as a vehicle gets older. In fact I believe that all cars should be subject to an MOT, from one year old onwards.

bonjy    on 22 October 2014


Joe_Pubic    on 22 October 2014

The EU regulation actually states

"vehicle of historical interest’ means any vehicle which is considered to be historical by the Member State of
registration or one of its appointed authorising bodies and which fulfils all the following conditions:
— it was manufactured or registered for the first time at least 30 years ago;"

It then goes on to say

"Vehicles of historical interest are supposed to conserve the heritage of the period during which they were constructed, and are considered to be hardly used on public roads. It should be left to Member States to determine the periodicity of roadworthiness testing for such vehicles. It should also be for Member States to regulate roadworthiness testing for other types of specialised vehicles."

So please do not get your hopes up as it is down to each country as to what they can or are not willing to do.

Crusher    on 22 October 2014

I have a 43 year old MG, it's used in fine weather, only in the summer, only in daylight and does about 2000 miles a year. Mine lives in the garage and it gets a good check over after every trip. If you want the thing to work then you simply have to maintain it properly.

As a consequence nothing much changes on a annual basis, I'm not saying that a MOT is a total waste of time - but it probably is annually -maybe every 3/4 years would be better

Slidingpillar    on 23 October 2014

In response to the first comment, the problem is many MOT testers are completely unfamiliar with older vehicles. I know one person who before the exemption was introduced had to dangerously mal-adjust the steering joints on his car to secure a pass, then re-adjust in order to drive safely home.

Most cars made since WW2 are not a problem, but many cars made pre-war will have some very odd technical features to the modern eye.

Shaun Whent    on 25 October 2014

i own a 1985 Renault 5 and i do my up most to keep it in excellent condition as it is my pride and joy and i want to keep it well maintained. i think the 30 year MOT exemption is a good idea, but only IF it can be guaranteed that all vehicles 30 years+ are properly maintained and kept roadworthy. As otherwise i can see unmaintained vehicles being involved in RTC's because they haven't been checked and have therefore been an accident waiting to happen.

hissingsid    on 2 September 2016

I am in principle opposed to any exemption, and continue to have my pre-1960 cars MOT'd on a voluntary basis for my own peace of mind. In the event of an accident, whether or not my fault, the MOT cerificate my is proof that the car has been examined by a professional. "But I checked everything myself" will not impress the insurance company or the police.

I take the point that some testers are unfamiliar with the older cars. The answer is to avoid franchised dealerships and use an independent garage which specialises in classics, several of which are listed in HJ's Good Garage Guide.

Bronco Laine    on 18 September 2016

Being an owner of a classic car from March 1960 , with the model designed in 1957 and built till July 1960 I feel somewhat annoyed at the MOT date cutoff at present . Hopefully it will change to a rolling exemption .

As a retired MOT tester I can see there is pressure from the trade with any loss of income


W.Nicholson    on 20 September 2016

It is a known fact that most MOT garages always want to profit from MOT testing by refusing a pass certificate.How can a classic car be tested when most old cars do not resemble modern car building and design.Classic cars are loved and cared for by their owners spending many hours each and every year keeping them to a standard that is exemplary. The UK has a history of building the greatest cars in the world and today's classics are a dying breed. Most classic cars are only used to be exhibited at classic car shows and not for day to day transport. Please let the classic car owners be free from tax and testing and let us all share the pride that belongs to us all with this part of our history.

Bill Nicholson (Precision Engineer)

Rick Wilkinson    on 14 October 2016

A mot only proves at the time of the mot it was safe to use on a public road!
most classic and vintage vehicle owners have built or repaired their vehicles and know them inside out and would never want them to be unsafe for their own use.
Any driver is responsible for maintaining their own vehicle in a "roadworthy" condition.

Lord Brasic    on 14 October 2016

There are some people that will be buying older cars just to get out of the mot test and they will run them in a dangerous state.
There should be a RELEVANT mot test on older cars, get the mot rule book out from say 10 to 15 years ago and use these rules to test older cars.
A young mot tester may not understand the difference between older and newer cars, this is why the test should be different.
I am very aware that MOST older cars are looked after BETTER than any newer car will ever be, but at least with a RELEVANT mot its a fresh pair of eyes.
Insurance companies should offer the price of the test as a discount to encourage owners to mot the car, then us poor owners will not be out of pocket.
At least this would stop the anti classic briade thinking we are getting away with something.

Andrew Walton    on 18 October 2016

Very old vehicles are generally very slow, and safety features (such as braking efficiency, seat belts, air bags etc are nowhere nearly as important. A thirty year old car (such as the Escort Mexico I had was capable of 100 mph downhill with a following wind. This sort of performance needs matching maintenance of tyres, brakes etc and should be inspected at regular intervals. I say no extension to the current exemption, although a different set of standards may be contemplated for them.

Mark Grant    on 21 October 2016

The M.O.T is only valid on the day it is tested it is down to the owner to keep the car roadworthy throughout the year. The majority of classic car owners like myself spend a lot of time, money and effort to make sure there vehicles are maintained to factory specification.
Having left the motor trade a few years ago I can understand the points made from both sides, however as the old hand's retire or unfortunately are no longer with us, it is difficult to find M.O.T tester's who understand older vehicles and the vast difference between them and modern vehicles often stating incorrect information and roadworthy fact's regarding older vehicles.
I understand garages will lose out on a vehicle Test from time to time but surely the amount of classic cars passing through the M.O.T bay will not warrant any significant loss, they will still get the servicing and repairs on said vehicles from owners who prefer or can not carry out the tasks themselves.
A classic vehicle owner usually knows there Car inside and out, they might be old but are looked after and cherished .
Modern mass produced cars as we all know have there fault's and the recalls from manufacturers can be trivial to extremely dangerous .
It won't change the general public attitude to all try and buy a classic and use it as a daily driver just because you will get free M.O.T and V.E.D.
However way it goes will really not impact the true enthusiast who is keeping a part of motoring history alive, enjoying it for what It is and preserving it to the best of his or her ability.
Cheers Mark

jim mcloughlin    on 8 November 2016

any one with old car do know them inside out should not have to be mot older cars better looked after than new ones

Philip jennison    on 13 November 2016

Cut off point 1970 any newer than that and the performance of cars changed significantly

peterpowell    on 1 January 2017

I had my classic car failed by an m.o.t . station ,simply for the fact that they had not the equipment to test it. I find it has to be tested by specialists with experience in historic vehicles. As time goes by these will become fewer!

shaunty    on 31 March 2017

I hope we get a rolling exemption like the road tax I am a retired tester and classic cars were far more likely to pass there mot than a 3 year old car . I own 2 classic cars and will still have them mot as sometimes it is good to let a fresh pair of eyes look over your car but it would be nice if your unable to take your car in time for the mot to still be able to tax it as we have all been in that position were you need to drive your car to check a running problem or test brakes but have no mot so cannot get it taxed

Roger Morrell    on 23 June 2017

Any news or update on the proposed change to MOT exemption?

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