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When Does a New Car Need an MOT: MOT Rules Explained

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated November, 10, 2022

An MOT certificate is mandatory for all vehicles in the UK but some exceptions apply for brand-new vehicles.

So, when does a new car need an MOT, and how can drivers check when their car’s first MOT is due? 

We have the answers, plus everything you need to know about the MOT and your new car.

When Does a Car Need its First MOT?

An MOT is a legal requirement for all cars older than three years. In other words, if you registered your car in 2020, it will be due for its first MOT test next year and every year after that. The same is with motorcycles—they need to get their first MOT check once they reach the third anniversary of their registration date. 

The three-year rule for new cars does not apply to all vehicles, though. Ambulances, taxis and private passenger vehicles, including playbuses, need to get their first MOT a year after they’ve been registered. This means that if a taxi was registered this year, it will be due for its first MOT check in 2023. 

Why is a new car MOT-exempt?

New cars come with brand-new components and parts that are not yet showing signs of wear and tear, which means they are already in working condition and do not need to undergo a formal inspection. 

What’s more, the most recent DVSA data show an 85% pass rate for new vehicles on their first MOT, so a new car is less likely to be declared unsafe to drive. 

What other vehicles are exempt from the MOT test?

In addition to the MOT exemption on new vehicles, some historic cars are also MOT-exempt as well as some kit cars provided they meet certain criteria. 

It’s important to note that classic cars and new vehicles must still be kept in good condition to be used on public roads, even though they do not need an MOT.  In fact, all vehicles on public roads must be safe to drive as operating an unroadworthy vehicle can lead to a driving ban, £2,500 fines and three penalty points. 

When Should You Book the First MOT for a New Car?

You should schedule an MOT appointment when you are close to the third anniversary of your vehicle registration. So, if you registered your car as new on 20 November 2019, you must bring it in for its first MOT no later than 20 November 2022. 

Remember that driving a car without a valid MOT is illegal and can result in fines of up to £1,000. What’s more, your insurance may be cancelled as well since most companies are reluctant to insure a car without an MOT or will only provide the most basic form of coverage

To book a test you need to find and contact an approved MOT test centre (i.e. ones showing the blue sign with 3 white triangles). 

Test centres can be a bit busy, so it might be worth it to book in advance. Booking the test early is also helpful if any repairs need to be carried out—this way you will have more time to fix potential issues. 

However, keep in mind that even though you can schedule an MOT inspection as early as you’d like, the certificate is valid for one year. Assuming your MOT is due on 10 December and you book the test on 10 November—the certificate will then be valid until 9 November the following year. 

How Can You Check When a New Car’s Mot Is Due?

There are three ways to check when a car is due its first MOT. 

One is checking your logbook which is a valid registration document all drivers in the UK must have. It also shows the car’s registration date so all you need to do is add three years to it and you will find out when the car’s first MOT is due. 

Another way is to use an online tool. Several test centres and motoring clubs will tell you when you’re due for a first MOT on a new car simply by entering your registration. Some will even send you a reminder when your MOT is about to expire, making sure you don’t get into legal trouble by driving with an expired certificate. 

You could also contact the car dealership as they might be able to provide the exact registration date and thus the due date for your new vehicle’s MOT. 

Note: According to new car MOT rules, if you have purchased an imported car and are not sure about the exact registration date, you will need the date of manufacture (the dealer can provide you with this information). Then count three years forward from the year of manufacture, i.e. a car made in 2019 should get the MOT test before 31 December 2022. 

What if you are buying a second-hand car?

Second-hand cars also need an MOT three years after they were first registered or one year since the last MOT check. To find out when was the vehicle’s latest MOT test, contact the seller or better yet, check the car’s MOT history with the DVSA. Here you will find all the necessary information, including passed and failed past tests, reasons for failure and the mileage record at the time of testing.

Make sure the car has a valid MOT when you buy it. If it doesn’t have one, it might have been off the road in which case you may be required to unSORN the vehicle before taxing it. 

Should You MOT a New Car?

Even though you are not legally obligated to book an MOT for new cars, you can still get the vehicle checked to make sure it is in proper condition. This does not necessarily mean taking it to an authorised MOT test centre—any garage can service your car and let you know if there are any issues. Alternatively, you could go through the pre-MOT checklist yourself and see if everything is functional and in order. 

Remember that just because a car is exempt from the MOT it doesn’t mean it is automatically safe to drive—make sure your vehicle is roadworthy at all times to avoid hefty fines and penalties. 

My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.