How long do you have to get an MOT after it expires?

    mot test certificate
    Driving with an expired MOT certificate can lead to heavy fines and legal issues.

    In the United Kingdom, every car or van must pass a yearly inspection by the Ministry of Transport. The MOT test examines your vehicle’s safety and roadworthiness according to the latest government requirements. Unless your vehicle qualifies for special circumstances, it is illegal to drive without this valid MOT certificate. 

    MOT certificates last one calendar year. Once the clock hits midnight on your MOT expiry date, you cannot drive or park your vehicle on the road. Driving with an expired MOT can result in heavy fines and legal issues.

    The only exception is if you’re driving to a repair shop or to a pre-booked MOT appointment. 

    Knowing your vehicle’s MOT standing is a core part of responsible car ownership. Unsure of your car’s status? Enter your reg into our free MOT checker tool and read on for all you need to know about MOT testing timelines. 

    MOT certification timeline

    Testing and certification

    The MOT test is designed to make sure all vehicles on UK roads meet safety and environmental standards. In England, Scotland, and Wales, all cars and vans that have been registered for three years or more years must pass an annual MOT exam. In Northern Ireland, vehicles undergo their first yearly MOT test at four years old. 

    During an MOT, experts examine the functionality of key car parts – including the engine, lights, brakes, windscreen wipers, and bodywork. All cars must meet the minimum standards laid out by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Authority to stay on UK roads. 

    Conducted at a certified MOT testing centre, this vehicle assessment usually takes under an hour and costs between £45 and £55. If your vehicle passes the MOT, you will be issued a new MOT certificate and can continue driving as normal. If your vehicle fails the MOT, it must be repaired and re-tested before it can drive again.


    MOT results are valid for one calendar year from the date of your last exam. Drivers have until midnight of the MOT expiration date to schedule an MOT renewal test. Drivers, not the DVLA, are responsible for staying on top of their vehicle’s MOT status and scheduling annual exams. 

    Motorway’s new, free MOT Checker is the easiest way to check your vehicle’s MOT standing. Enter your reg number in the search box and tap the ‘Check MOT’ button to see your MOT validity and view a countdown for how many days before it runs out. You can also set up email reminders so you’ll never have to guess your expiration date again.

    To renew your MOT certificate, you will need to schedule a routine MOT exam at a qualified testing centre. To keep the same renewal date for the next year, you can book up to one month and a day before your current MOT expires. 

    Should your vehicle pass the MOT exam, you’ll be issued a new certificate for the next year and can immediately hit the road.

    MOT exemptions

    In the UK, vehicles over 40 years old are generally exempt from annual MOT testing and road tax, as long as they have not been substantially changed. 

    However, drivers must have the proper tax exemption documents to show that their car is a historic or classic vehicle and does not need an MOT. 

    What to do when your MOT expires

    mot in process
    Vehicles with expired MOTs should schedule testing immediately.

    Noticed that your MOT is out of date? Then it’s time to act. Since the MOT exam works to keep UK vehicles and roads as safe as possible, the penalties of driving with an expired MOT can be hefty: 

    • Fines of up to £1,000
    • Points on your licence
    • Vehicle impoundment 
    • Potential insurance invalidation, leaving you liable for any damages in the event of an accident
    • Legal liabilities for any harm caused to others, their vehicles, or property

    Unfortunately, there is no grace period after your MOT expires that allows you to stay behind the wheel. Once your certificate runs out, you’re considered to be illegally on the road. 

    To get back in the driver’s seat as quickly as possible, follow these steps: 

    1. Stop driving – As soon as you realise your MOT has expired, refrain from driving the vehicle,  unless you are en route to a repair centre or a pre-booked MOT appointment. Continuing to drive without a valid MOT is illegal.

    2. Book an MOT test – Schedule an MOT test at the earliest opportunity. If your vehicle requires repairs, consult a mechanic and book an appointment ASAP.

    3. Conduct a vehicle maintenance check – Use the time before your MOT appointment to perform a basic maintenance check on your vehicle. Explore our guide on what the MOT exam tests to help increase your chances of passing the test. 

    4. Prepare necessary documents – Gather all necessary documents, including your V5C logbook, previous MOT certificates, and any relevant service history paperwork. Having these ready will streamline the MOT testing process.

    5. Renew road tax and insurance – While waiting for your MOT exam, ensure your road tax and insurance are up-to-date. Both road tax, otherwise known as your Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), and insurance are mandatory for all UK drivers.

    6. Transportation alternatives – How will you get around before your MOT exam? Use this time to explore alternative transportation options, such as public transport, carpooling, or using a rental vehicle until your car passes the MOT test.


    Can you be late with an MOT?

    Yes, you can be late in renewing your vehicle’s MOT. However, driving with an expired and invalid MOT is illegal. You have until midnight on your MOT’s current expiry date to renew it without penalties. 

    If your MOT has expired, remember that it is illegal to continue driving – unless you’re heading to a pre-booked MOT appointment.

    Do speed cameras check for MOT?

    Speed cameras do not typically check for vehicle MOT status. However, if you’re caught speeding, police officers may inspect your vehicle’s MOT certificate. Driving without a valid MOT can result in fines, points on your licence, and insurance invalidation, among other penalties.

    Is your insurance invalid without MOT?

    Your insurance may become invalid without a valid MOT. Operating a vehicle without a valid MOT breaches legal requirements and may void your insurance policy. In the event of an accident, you could be personally liable for any damages and legal costs.

    Consult your car insurance policy for the most accurate information.

    Can you sell a car without an MOT?

    You can technically sell a car without a valid MOT, but it will be much more difficult. As buyers are looking for safe used vehicles, lacking an MOT certificate will likely reduce both your potential buyer pool and your vehicle’s sales price. Cars that have expired MOT certificates carry an additional element of risk as their roadworthiness has not been verified. Similarly, cars that have failed their MOT are more likely to be classified as Cat D write-offs and could be dangerous! 

    If your car fails the MOT test and you’re looking to get rid of it, another option could be to sell it for scrap

    Who will buy a vehicle without a valid MOT certificate? 

    The biggest buyers of cars and vans without a valid MOT certificate tend to be online car-buying services and trade dealers. These dealers usually have access to removal services and are able to collect vehicles relatively cheaply and without much hassle. Private buyers, alternatively, may struggle to find suitable vehicle collection methods without being able to drive them.

    At Motorway, we work directly with 5,000+ verified dealers and scrap buyers to get the best price for all our customers. For more information, enter your reg on our homepage today.

    Is it time to sell your car?

    Want to learn more about owning, maintaining, and selling your car? You can also check your MOT status with our free MOT checker tool.

    Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from finding buyers, to negotiating a good price, and completing payment safely.