MOT Northern Ireland: How to book an urgent test if your tax expires

The DVA have launched a new form where you can request an urgent MOT test
The DVA have launched a new form where you can request an urgent MOT test -Credit:Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live

Demand for MOTs in Northern Ireland is increasing due to more cars of an age that require a test on the roads.

If you do not have a valid MOT, you are currently unable to tax your vehicle which could lead to costly fines.

But booking an MOT test remains difficult for many across Northern Ireland as spiralling waiting times have left many motorists facing delays of several months before they secure a test.

READ MORE: Northern Ireland's current MOT regime still 'in an unacceptable state'

READ MORE: MOT frustration boils over as 72-day wait time becomes "new normal"

Last month, Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said his department is exploring ways to slash the MOT waiting times, including new temporary exclusion certificates and a consultation on vehicle testing every two years instead of annually.

Giving evidence to his Assembly scrutiny committee, Mr O’Dowd said while a move to biennial testing may ultimately be required, he highlighted that police, as well as the motor and insurance industries, were opposed to moving away from the need for annual MOTs.

The chief executive of the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) Jeremy Logan recently said a 72-day wait for a test is the new normal.

For those struggling to book an MOT, If your tax is going to expire in the next 10 days or has expired, you can now request an urgent MOT test through the DVA.

In order to assist those who cannot get a test booked in time for their car tax expiring, the DVA have launched a new form where you can request an urgent MOT test.

You should make sure that you answer any calls from withheld numbers to arrange an appointment. If you do not answer the call we can not progress your request. This will result in you needing to submit a new request on NIDirect.

These tests are ONLY available to those whose tax has expired or is due to expire in the next 10 days.

Your vehicle MUST be ready for MOT, and you MUST have a current booking reference number before submitting this request.

You can fill in the request form via this link.

In each of the last two years, the DVA says more than 1.1 million vehicle tests were conducted, which are the highest numbers ever recorded.

In 2023, there were only seven days in the year when DVA did not offer MOT appointments across its 15 test centres.

The DVA says approximately 50,000 customers failed to attend a booked appointment in each of the last two years, which places additional demand on this service.

In early March, it emerged that small hairline cracks had been found at 16 lifts at MOT test centres across Northern Ireland.

The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) said at the time that all lifts remain in service and MOT appointments were not affected.

In 2020 faulty lifts at MOT centres were replaced after tens of thousands of test appointments were cancelled when cracks were found in lifts.

The DVA said the latest cracks “are not the same issue as the cracks identified in scissor lifts at the end of 2019”.

The planned opening of new MOT test centres in Hydebank and Mallusk will provide extra testing capacity for 200,000 vehicles per year.

More than 50 new vehicle examiners will start work from early June, and it is expected they will take on extra appointments to whittle down the backlog.

In a statement, a Department for Infrastructure (DfI) spokesperson said: “The Minister understands the frustrations of motorists over MOT testing waiting times and has tasked officials to bring forward options for urgent consideration to ensure motorists have timely access to vehicle testing.”

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