Guidance

Set up and run an authorised testing facility (ATF) for vehicle tests

How to set up and run an authorised testing facility (ATF) so you can host tests for lorries, buses and trailers.

Overview

An authorised testing facility (ATF) tests that heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), trailers and public service vehicles (PSVs) like buses are roadworthy and meet safety and environmental standards.

To set up an ATF, you must apply to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). They’ll carry out an assessment and probably also do a site inspection before deciding whether you can open.

You cannot test vehicles until you’re authorised - but as an ATF, you can:

  • have DVSA staff test your own vehicles
  • offer a testing service to third parties using DVSA staff - customers can test their vehicles at your ATF instead of at a DVSA test station

An ATF cannot test cars, motorbikes or small vans. To test these type of vehicles, you must apply to set up an MOT testing station.

Read the guide about the financial arrangements with DVSA if you’re running an ATF.

How to apply

To set up as an ATF, you’ll need:

  • a testing area that’s at least 2 metres wider than the vehicles to be tested
  • a permanent weatherproof building
  • approved testing equipment
  • offices that DVSA staff can visit and work from

Read the ATF checklist for full details before you apply. You should also read the guide on how to operate an ATF - this includes health and safety, equipment and the fees you can charge.

Application form

You can ask for the application form online. There’s no fee to apply.

DVSA has temporarily stopped accepting applications to set up new ATFs.

What to send

Send the application form, with the required documentation (for example, health and safety and site layout plans) to the address on the form.

Call the DVSA helpline if you have any questions about your application.

DVSA helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 9000
Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

You should get a response by post within 2 weeks of sending in your application.

DVSA will contact you to discuss site development if your application is ‘provisionally accepted’.

If it’s rejected, the letter will explain why, and tell you what you need to do if you want to apply again.

Do not start any building work or buy equipment until your application has been approved. You won’t be able to reclaim these costs if it’s turned down.

DVSA will normally carry out an initial site inspection and a final site inspection before you can be approved as an ATF.

Site inspections and approval

Once DVSA has visited your site, you’ll get a report - usually within a week.

If your site passes the initial inspection, there may be a final inspection before you get approved - let DVSA know when you’re ready and they’ll arrange a visit.

You’ll be told what needs to be done if it fails the inspection and given a deadline to send in new plans.

DVSA will send you a letter telling you what you need to do if your site fails its final inspection.

Approval

You’ll get your certificate and can operate as an ATF when DVSA has given final approval.

You’ll have to operate under the terms set out in the ATF contract. Read the guidance notes on the ATF contract for more information.

Operating your ATF

Once you’ve been approved to operate an ATF, there are certain things you must do.

Set up a pre-funded account (PFA)

Complete the application form to set up a PFA. You need a separate PFA for each ATF site.

Meet health and safety requirements

You must make sure your premises meet health and safety regulations. During site visits DVSA may ask to see any relevant documents, eg public liability insurance certificate or fire risk assessment.

Display logos and signage

You must display at least one DVSA and ATF logo, even if you only host your own vehicles.

If you offer third-party or open access testing, the logo should be displayed as explained in the brand guidelines.

It’s your responsibility to get licences or planning permission in England and Wales or Scotland to display signage on your premises.

Provide and maintain testing equipment

You must make sure your premises are adequately stocked and all your equipment is in good working order.

Working with DVSA

You must have a competent site manager available on a daily basis to work with DVSA and manage test bookings.

In return, DVSA must:

  • supply an examiner for any testing period that has a confirmed reservation
  • ensure all examiners comply with relevant statutory requirements
  • give you the relevant test documentation after testing

Booking examiners

All testing at an ATF has to be done by DVSA examiners.

You must book a minimum of 2 testing periods of 3 hours 30 minutes per test site - that’s 7 hours on each day that an examiner is needed. You can also book a third testing period if you need it.

You can:

  • book up to 12 months in advance
  • make short-term bookings up to 2 months in advance

Booking requests must be made between 15 and 30 September each year. Examiners can be booked for 12-month periods, starting in January each year.

There’s more information in DVSA’s booking policy.

Paying for examiners

DVSA will confirm your booking request in writing and they’ll debit your pre-funded account 7 calendar days before the testing day.

There’s a reservation fee of £378 for each 3 hours 30 minutes hour testing period.

Testing fees

If you offer third party or open access testing at your ATF, you must charge fees at the rates published by DVSA.

There are different fees for different types of vehicles:

Pit fees

You can charge a pit fee on top of the test fee. These are capped by DVSA. The current maximum pit fees (excluding VAT) are:

  • £55 for testing HGVs
  • £70 for testing PSVs
  • £40 for testing trailers

Your ATF contract could be suspended if you charge more than this.

Make changes to your ATF

You can apply to make changes to your ATF, for example, to:

  • change your opening times
  • change the physical dimensions of a site
  • add categories of vehicle to be tested
  • change site equipment
  • add or remove third party or open access testing
  • add another site to an existing ATF contract
  • make administrative changes, such as contact names or telephone numbers

Fill in the application form to make changes and send it to DVSA.

If you’re making physical changes to your site you’ll also need:

  • a site plan for each location included in the application
  • fully dimensioned drawings of the proposed testing area(s)
  • written confirmation of planning permission (or a written explanation of why it is not needed)

Contact the DVSA helpline if you have any questions about your application.

DVSA helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 9000
Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

Published 16 October 2012