What documents do you need for an MOT?

    Whether you drive a Lamborghini sports car or a compact MINI, your vehicle needs to meet certain safety, functionality, and emissions standards to legally drive on UK roads. 

    In England, Scotland, and Wales, all vehicles must undergo an annual Ministry of Transport (MOT) test once they’ve been registered for three or more years. In Northern Ireland, MOT tests are required for cars and vans registered for four or more years.  

    An MOT certificate indicates that your vehicle is roadworthy in the eyes of the UK government. Driving without a valid MOT certificate is not only illegal, but can result in a significant drop in vehicle value – something to look out for when buying or selling a car

    Preparing for the MOT exam puts you in the fast lane to success. To streamline MOT test admin, check your car’s current MOT status and history and pull together the right paperwork before heading to your testing centre.  

    Motorway’s free MOT Checker tool shares your vehicle’s MOT status instantly.

    Required documents for an MOT test

    📝V5C logbook

    Also known as your vehicle registration document, the V5C logbook is the most important document car owners have. The logbook contains vital information about your vehicle, including information on your specific make and model, ownership details, and registration and repair history. To avoid any discrepancies during the MOT inspection, it’s essential that logbook information is up-to-date and accurate. This includes noting reg plate changes. Do not forget this at home!

    📝 Current MOT certificate

    If applicable, bring your car or van’s current MOT certificate (called the VT20 MOT Test Pass certificate) to your testing appointment. While not a legal requirement for test takers to bring, this certificate serves as proof that your vehicle has previously met MOT standards and can provide valuable insight into its maintenance history. You can explore samples of existing and previous MOT pass certificates here

    📝 Driving licence 

    Having a driving licence is a legal requirement to get behind the wheel in the UK. All drivers must have their licences on them at all times when in the car, including when driving to their MOT exams. 

    📝 Valid insurance

    Car insurance is also a legal requirement in the UK. Just like a licence, all drivers need valid car insurance to drive to the MOT testing centre.

    📝 MOT appointment confirmation

    This may seem obvious, but make sure to have your MOT appointment confirmation on hand when heading to your exam. Whether in physical or digital form, this confirmation serves as proof of your scheduled appointment and confirms your slot in the testing schedule. Without this, you may encounter delays or complications when trying to undergo the MOT inspection. 

    If you are driving a vehicle with an expired MOT or one that has recently failed its MOT exam to a re-test, MOT appointment confirmation paperwork allows you to legally get to the testing centre. Without these documents, you will be considered to be driving unlawfully.  

    What if you’ve lost essential MOT documents

    In 2024, there are multiple ways to replace lost MOT documents.

    Maintaining all relevant vehicle documentation is an important part of car ownership. However, we’re only human. Luckily, there are many ways to go about replacing lost documents when accidents happen. 

    Replacing a V5C logbook

    If you’ve misplaced your V5C logbook, you can apply for a replacement via the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency website. For this a duplicate logbook, you’ll need to submit: 

    However, if you need to update any of your logbook information, including your name, address, and vehicle ownership details, you will need to complete form V62 on the website and then apply for the DVLA to send the updated logbook by post. 

    Replacement logbooks typically cost £25 and will be sent to the address that the DVLA has on record for your vehicle. You should receive your new logbook within five working days. 

    Replacing a current MOT certificate

    Similar to the V5C logbook, you can replace your MOT certificate online or via mail. However, you can only get a replacement MOT certificate online if you’ve lost or damaged the original certificate. 

    It is free and easy to apply for a replacement MOT certificate online via the gov.uk website. You will need to provide your car’s reg number and the 11-digit number printed inside your V5C logbook. This service is for passenger vehicles only; heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), trailers, and other public service vehicles will need to fill out separate paperwork. 

    Alternatively, you can request a replacement MOT certificate from any MOT testing centre. This does not necessarily need to be the centre where your vehicle was last tested. You will need to provide your reg and V5C logbook reference number to obtain a duplicate certificate. This often comes with a small fee. 

    Some MOT testing stations also offer online services to access and print duplicate certificates. Check their website or contact them directly for assistance.

    If you’re unable to obtain a duplicate certificate via the above and your MOT is still valid, you may consider undergoing another MOT test to receive a new certificate.

    Preparing for the MOT exam

    The MOT exam is an annual requirement for all vehicles in the UK.

    The MOT test examines individual vehicle components to check the safety, roadworthiness, and emissions output of your car or van. To best prepare for your annual exam, take good care of your vehicle! Following manufacturer recommendations and fixing issues promptly help increase your car’s lifespan and chances of success on the MOT. 

    Common reasons for MOT failure include inadequate component maintenance, yet many of these issues are easy fixes! Before your exam, take a look at: 

    • Lights and signals – Ensure all headlights, brake lights, indicators, and hazard lights are functioning correctly. Replace any bulbs that are dim or not working before the MOT.
    • Brakes – Inspect and address wear-and-tear on your brake system, including brake pads and discs.
    • Tyre condition – Inspect tyre tread depth, condition, and pressure to ensure they align with legal requirements. Replace worn or damaged tyres.
    • Suspension – Check for damage to your car’s suspension system, including springs, shock absorbers, and steering components.
    • Exhaust system – A key part of the MOT is assessing your vehicle’s emissions. Look for leaks, corrosion, or excessive noise in the exhaust system. Speak with a mechanic to ensure that your exhaust emissions meet environmental standards.
    • Wipers – Test wiper blades for effectiveness and replace if they leave streaks or smudges. Ensure washer fluid is topped up.
    • Essential documents – Triple check that your V5C logbook and registration documents are present and up to date. 

    By assessing the status of and taking care of any issues with core car components before your MOT exam, you can avoid having to pay for an MOT retest or easy repairs that you can do yourself.

    Two final pieces of advice: be sure that your car’s engine is fully warmed-up before your MOT exam to reduce high starting emissions during your test. And don’t forget to clean the interior and exterior of your vehicle! 

    Check out our ultimate guide to the MOT for more preparation tips and tricks.

    What to expect during your MOT

    Arrival at the test centre

    Get to your designated MOT testing centre a few minutes early to allow for check-in and paperwork completion without feeling rushed. 

    After checking in, you’ll be directed to hand over your vehicle to the testing personnel.

    Remember your chequebook as the MOT exam costs approximately £45 to £55, depending on location, among other factors. 

    Testing process and time

    The MOT test typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour to complete. However, this can vary depending on the complexity of the vehicle and any issues identified during the inspection.

    During the exam, the DVLA inspects a range of crucial car components and systems. This includes your vehicle body, fuel and exhaust systems, brakes, steering and suspension, and electrical system.   

    Evaluation and certification

    After your exam, the DVLA will give your vehicle one of three possible evaluations: 

    🥇 Pass – Your car or van meets all safety and environmental standards. A new MOT certificate will be issued and valid for the next 12 months. You can continue driving as normal immediately after the exam.

    🏁 Advisory – Your vehicle meets safety and environmental standards, but the DVLA has detected potential issues that should be monitored. While these issues do not meet the MOT failure criteria, it’s crucial to address them to prevent future MOT failures. You will be issued a new MOT certificate and can continue to drive your vehicle.

    ❌ Fail – Your vehicle is deemed unroadworthy and cannot be driven on UK roads. You will receive a failure report outlining identified issues with the car; schedule repairs and an MOT retest ASAP to get back on the road. 


    Does the MOT check oil levels?

    Oil levels are not typically checked during an MOT. Inspectors focus on safety and emissions-related components rather than engine fluids.

    Does the MOT check tyre pressure?

    Tyre pressure is not specifically checked during the MOT test. However, inspectors do assess overall tyre condition, including tread depth to make sure that all four tyres are above the 1.6mm legal limit. 

    How long is an MOT certificate valid?

    An MOT certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. You cannot legally drive on UK roads if your certificate is out of date, even if you have an MOT test scheduled.

    Do you need an MOT to tax your car?

    Yes. A valid MOT is required for taxing your car, which can be done online or at the post office. However, if your vehicle is off the road (and therefore not being driven or taxed), you need to obtain a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). A SORN status will get you a refund on your car tax.

    The biggest complication comes when both your road tax and MOT are due at the same time and the tax runs out before an MOT pass.

    So it’s worth either taxing your car slightly earlier or going in for an MOT up to 30 days before the due date to avoid them clashing. Otherwise, you may be able to legally drive without an MOT to the nearest test centre, but you’ll potentially be at risk for not having valid road tax.

    How can I check my MOT status? 

    With Motorway’s new MOT Checker, it’s never been easier to know the status of your vehicle’s MOT.

    Simply enter your vehicle registration number into our free tool and tap the ‘Check MOT’ button. You’ll get an instant response saying if your MOT is valid and giving you a countdown until your certificate runs out.  

    With the MOT Checker, you can also explore your vehicle’s full MOT history and, if your car possesses a valid MOT certificate, set reminders for when to schedule your next exam. 

    Can you sell a car without an MOT?

    Yes, you can sell a car if it doesn’t have a valid MOT. However, this will be much more difficult!

    Lacking an MOT certificate will likely reduce both your potential buyer pool and your vehicle’s sales price as buyers are shopping for safe transport. Since their roadworthiness has not been verified, cars that do not have valid MOT certificates carry an additional element of risk and may seem like a riskier investment. 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

    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.