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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/historic-classic-vehicles-mot-exemption-criteria/historic-classic-vehicles-mot-exemption-criteria
You do not need to get an MOT if the vehicle was first registered more than 40 years ago and no ‘substantial changes’ have been made to the vehicle in the last 30 years.
This includes vehicles previously exempted on the basis of being first registered before 1960.
Whether or not you are exempt your vehicle must be roadworthy and you may wish to voluntarily undertake an MOT test anyway.
2. What ‘substantial changes’ means
A vehicle alteration is a ‘substantial change’ if the technical characteristics of the main components have changed in the previous 30 years, unless these fall into the acceptable alterations category.
Full guidance relating to substantial changes was published following the announcement of changes to the MOT regime for Vehicles of Historic Interest.
3. ‘Substantial change’ criteria
Main vehicle components (excluding motorcycles)
Chassis replacements of the same pattern as the original are not considered to be a substantial change
Replacements of the same pattern as the original are not considered to be a substantial change (including any sub-frames).
Axles and running gear
Alteration of the type or method of:
is a ‘substantial change’.
Alternative cubic capacities of the same basic engine and alternative original equipment engines are not considered to be a substantial change.
If the number of cylinders in an engine is different from the original it’s likely to be, but not necessarily, the case that the current engine is not alternative original equipment.
Other ‘substantial change’ criteria (all vehicles)
A vehicle is considered to have been ‘substantially changed’ if it:
- has been given a ‘Q’ registration number
- is a kit car assembled from components from different makes and model of vehicle
- is a reconstructed classic vehicle as defined by DVLA guidance
- is a kit conversion, where a kit of new parts is added to an existing vehicle, or old parts are added to a kit of a manufactured body, chassis or monocoque bodyshell, which changes the general appearance of the vehicle
However, if a vehicle meeting one or more of these criteria is taxed as a ‘historic vehicle’, and it has not been modified during the previous 30 years, it is exempt from needing an MOT.
It does not count as a ‘substantial change’ if:
- changes are made to preserve a vehicle because the original type parts are no longer reasonably available
- they are changes of a type which can be demonstrated to have been made when vehicles of the type were in production or within 10 years of the end of production
- axles and running gear have been changed to improve efficiency, safety or environmental performance
- changes were made to vehicles that were previously used as commercial vehicles, and you can prove the changes were made when the vehicle was used commercially
4. Large vehicle information
Some large vehicles are exempt from testing.
Large goods vehicles (defined as vehicles more than 3.5 tonnes) or buses and public service vehicles (defined with 8 or more passenger seats) which are used commercially require a valid test certificate if:
- the vehicle has been substantially changed in the last 30 years
- it is a large goods vehicle and is used when laden or towing a laden trailer
Buses and public service vehicles
Buses and other public service vehicles used commercially are exempt if they are pre-1960 vehicles unless ‘substantially changed’.
Buses that are not public service vehicles over 40 years old are exempt if they meet the definition of ‘vehicle of historical interest’.
Large goods vehicles
Large goods vehicles are generally exempt from testing, if first used before 1960 and currently used unladen, unless ‘substantially changed’. However a small number of pre-1960 large goods vehicles may require testing.
If your goods vehicle has never been tested you may apply for a first test using a VTG1 application form.
Other testing exemptions
Separate exemptions from testing in full or parts of the test are also relevant to some old, large goods vehicles. For example, steam powered vehicles are exempt from testing.