When Does a Car Become MOT Exempt?

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 1 month ago

5 min read

  • MOT
  • Car ownership
MOT certificate close up

FixMyCar explains the rules around MOT exemption.

In the UK, most cars are legally required to undergo an annual MOT test and must also pay road tax. However, there are some exceptions. This guide explains the rules around MOT exemption to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.

Contents

Why are old cars MOT exempt?

When do cars become MOT exempt?

Can I declare MOT exemption online?

Should I still get an MOT for my exempt car?

Financial benefits of MOT and road tax exemptions

Important checks for MOT-exempt vehicles

FAQs


In a nutshell: Cars become MOT-exempt after 40 years if they haven't undergone any "substantial changes" in the last 30 years. You must complete the V112 form to tell the DVLA that your car is exempt.


Why are old cars MOT exempt? 

Most old cars still in use are classics, and their owners are often hobbyists who enjoy doing their own mechanical repairs and maintenance. Many classic cars are used occasionally rather than regularly heading out on the road. These are the most commonly stated reasons for the exemption. 

Classic sports car on Welsh road

However, just because old vehicles are exempt doesn’t mean you can neglect them. They must still be roadworthy, with working lights and safe tyres.


When do cars become MOT exempt? 

The Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) has a forty-year rule for MOT exemptions. This means that non-commercial vehicles aren’t required to undergo an annual MOT if they were registered 40 years ago and haven't had "substantial changes” made over the past 30 years.

The MOT exemption operates on a rolling basis. It applies to all vehicles registered 40 years ago that have kept their original body shell, chassis, engine and transmission or only had minor alterations.

For example, if your car was built and registered before the 1st of January 1985, you are MOT exempt and no longer have to pay vehicle tax from the 1st of April 2025.

When your car is MOT-exempt, you must register it under the Historic Vehicle taxation class with the DVLA, which exempts you from paying road tax.

Are there any exceptions?

Vehicles that have been substantially modified do not qualify for MOT exemption. The same applies to cars with a ‘Q’ number plate, kit conversion cars and reconstructed classic vehicles.

Determining substantial changes

Older cars that have been substantially modified may not qualify for MOT exemption. Anything that changes a vehicle’s functionality, structure and safety falls into this category.

Some components are exempt from this rule, so you can alter them without affecting your car’s eligibility. These include:

  • Suspension - components can be changed for comfort or handling as long as they don’t compromise safety.

  • Brakes - minor upgrades are allowed for parts such as the discs and pads.

  • Electrical systems - installing modern lighting or entertainment systems is permitted.

  • Interior - cosmetic changes to the interior are allowed.

You can find official guidance on what counts as a substantial change here.


Can I declare MOT exemption online? 

Yes, you can apply for MOT exemption online by filling in a V112 form on the Government website.

How to declare MOT exemption

Follow the steps below to declare your vehicle MOT-exempt.

  • Consult a mechanic. We recommend booking a car health check to assess your vehicle’s condition and determine whether it meets the criteria for MOT exemption.

  • Review documentation. Check your car’s registration details and any previous MOT certificates to confirm its modification history and age.

  • Notify the DVLA. Let the DVLA know about your vehicle’s exemption status by completing the V112 form on the Government website.

  • Update your vehicle’s taxation class. Follow the process outlined here. You must remember this step as it is legally required to continue driving on public roads.


Should I still get an MOT for my exempt car?

Regular MOT testing allows problems to be identified and fixed promptly. If you stop testing your car, issues could go unnoticed, making the risk of a breakdown much higher.

Interim service and MOT image

If your mechanical knowledge is limited and you don’t enjoy tinkering under the bonnet, continuing with MOTs might be better in the long run.


Financial benefits of MOT and road tax exemptions

MOT and road tax exemptions can bring significant financial benefits.

  • Save money on tax and testing costs

  • Classic cars often have lower insurance premiums

  • Lower overall maintenance and repair costs thanks to aftermarket parts and DIY repairs

  • More value over time after the initial period of steep depreciation

Toy car on a desk beside a stack of coins, calculator and notepad.

Important checks for MOT-exempt vehicles 

You should still carry out regular checks on your MOT-exempt vehicle to make sure it’s roadworthy. Otherwise, you could find yourself falling foul of the law. These checks should include:


Frequently asked questions


Looking for affordable car repairs and maintenance? FixMyCar can help you find the right garage at the right price.

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Written by Ellie

Ellie Author Pic

Ellie is FixMyCar’s Content Writer. She has a BA in English literature from Durham University, a master’s degree in creative writing, and three years of experience writing in the automotive industry. She currently drives a Suzuki Swift.

Find Ellie on LinkedIn.