MoT and road tax exemption

Want to know if your classic car is eligible for MoT and road tax exemption? Read our fact sheet here

MOT Exemption

Most vehicles built or registered before January 1, 1960 are already exempt from annual roadworthiness (MoT) testing in the UK.

  • Owners are still legally responsible for ensuring that their pre-1960 vehicles are in roadworthy condition.

  • Owners can still voluntarily submit their vehicles for testing.

  • Large goods vehicles (with a maximum laden weight of more than 3.5 tonnes) and buses (vehicles with more than eight seats) that are used commercially aren't exempt.

  • A pre-1960 vehicle will continue to be MoT exempt after the changes that came in on 20 May 2018 (see below) until its road tax renewal date. If the owner declares it a Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI) while renewing the tax, it continues to be MoT exempt. Otherwise it will need an MoT test before it can be used on the road.

From May 20, 2018, the cutoff for MoT test exemption became based on a rolling 40-year vehicle age, meaning that most vehicles built or registered at least 40 years ago, and qualifying for Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI) status,  no longer require an annual MoT test.

  • In order to claim MoT-exempt VHI status for a vehicle, the owner will have the option to tick a VHI declaration box as part of its annual road tax renewal procedure, otherwise the vehicle will continue to require an annual MoT test.

  • To qualify as a Vehicle of Historic Interest, the vehicle must not be 'substantially changed' from its original specification within the past 30 years, as defined by the Department of Transport/Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.

  • Guidance on what constitutes 'substantially changed' can be found here found here. 'Substantially changed' refers to technical standards, not originality. So, for example, fitting a replacement engine that is either identical, or was available for that model of car at the time, is not considered a substantial change.
    Owners will still be legally responsible for ensuring that their MoT-exempt vehicles are in roadworthy condition.

  • Even once a vehicle is declared as a VHI, the owner can choose to voluntarily submit their vehicle for testing.

If the MoT for a vehicle more than 40 years old expires before its next taxation anniversary, the DVLA computer and therefore the police will recognize it as MoT exempt until the taxation date. If the owner declares it as a VHI at that point, it will continue to be exempt. If the owner doesn't, it will require an MoT test before being driven on the road.

Classic-friendly MoT test stations. A vehicle should only be tested to the standards it was built to originally and is not expected to conform to such things as emissions standards that apply to later cars. Any MoT test station that follows the correct procedures should be able to test a historic car in an age-correct manner, but we occasionally hear of garages that mistakenly try to apply modern car standards. So, a list of classic-friendly MoT test stations – ie those familiar with testing classic cars – is available here

Road Tax Fee Exemption


The point at which historic vehicles can become exempt from a road tax fee in the UK is a rolling 40-year date based on the start of the calendar year.
Vehicles built at least 40 years before the first date of the current year do not have to pay road tax in the UK, so currently this means those built before January 1, 1979.
If you don't know when your vehicle was built, but it was first registered before January 8, 1979, it is exempt.
To find out how to claim free road tax, click here
Owners of 40+ year-old vehicles must still go through the taxation process each year, either at a Post Office or online, but there is no fee to pay. The first time you declare your vehicle as tax fee exempt must be done at a Post Office.
More details can be found here

Lewis PlumbMOT, Road Tax