Is there a grace period for MOT?

Is there a grace period for MOT?

You are most likely aware that an MOT is an annual test to ensure that a car is safe to drive in the UK. It’s pretty important to keep an eye on when your MOT expires to make sure that your car is safe and legal to drive. We’ve talked about it a few times, so if you need an intro, you can check out our blog on 'When will a new car need its first MOT?'.

It is not uncommon to think that there is a grace period when getting an MOT in the UK. Maybe an extra 14 days to think about where to get tested before you go? We’re sorry to tell you but this is sadly not the case, it’s just an urban myth. Don’t worry though, it’s pretty easy to keep an eye on, and chances are you’ve got time to get it sorted before you get in any sort of trouble.


When should I get an MOT?

So when should you be thinking about getting an MOT in the first place? First off, that depends how old your car is. If it’s new (aka less than 3 years old), your car will need its first MOT after 3 years. So, there is some leeway for new cars at least.

Otherwise, if your car is older than 3 years, you’re going to need to get an MOT every year. You can check the date of when to get an MOT on your MOT certificate, which should be with all of your car’s documentation. If you can’t find your certificate, you can get a new one from the government very easily, and completely for free. You can find more information about your MOT certificate by checking out our blog ‘How long is an MOT certificate valid for?’.


When can I get an MOT?

You can get your MOT pretty much any time you like up to your expiration date, there are just a couple of things to note. You can go get an MOT any time in the month before your MOT expiration date (minus one day), and you’ll keep the same expiration date for the following year. This is, generally speaking, the best time to get an MOT.

The MOT expiry rules here are a bit odd, but it essentially means that if your expiration day was 20th November 2022, you could go any time from 21st October 2022 up to the expiration date. Then, once the car has passed, your next MOT would be due by 20th November 2023.

You are also allowed to go for your MOT even earlier than the month before your expiration date, it’s just a bit unnecessary. It also means that your date for the following year would change to that new date, minus a day. So, if you went on the 15th September 2022, your next expiration date would be 14th September 2022.

The same would happen if you missed your MOT expiration date. If you went for your MOT on 22nd November 2022, you would then need to go on 21st November 2023 for your next test. This is not the best idea, as you are not allowed to drive your car after your MOT expires (we’ll explain the rules for that below).


Is there a grace period?

The simple answer here is sadly no, there is no grace period for an MOT in the UK.

There’s been a number of urban legends over the years. You might be hoping there’s a 14 day grace period, or some leeway for special cases, but unfortunately, that’s never been the case.

At time of writing, in August 2022, there is currently no grace period where you can drive your car legally without an MOT.

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Has there ever been a grace period?

In 2020 the UK government introduced a special provision in order to help enforce COVID-19 restrictions. This meant that if a vehicle's MOT expired between March 30th, 2020, and July 31st, 2020, it was automatically extended by six months from the existing test certificate’s expiry date.

That special provision has since ended, so everyone is required to get their MOTs as normal again. So, considering the rules only changed when the whole world was in lockdown, the rules aren’t likely to change soon.


When can I drive without an MOT?

The straightforward answer is that you probably want to be pretty careful. You are legally not allowed to drive your car at all without a valid MOT. There are however a couple of exceptions, just in case you miss your MOT expiration. It’s also worth remembering that, if you get stopped on your way to the garage, you’ll need to prove that’s what you’re doing.

You should be able to drive after your MOT has expired if:

  • You are on your way to get your MOT
  • You are on your way to get your car repaired following a failed MOT

You also should be able to drive without a valid MOT if:

  • You are on the way back from a failed MOT with minor repairs needed and booked in (but only if you are still within your expiration date)

It’s also worth noting that if you are past your expiration date and your car fails its MOT, you must leave it at the garage to be fixed. The same counts for if there are major issues with your car, even if it’s still within the expiration date.

So, if you think there might be something wrong with your car before an MOT, it might be worth booking in with a test centre that will be able to complete any repairs right away. Some test centres might book you in for an MOT but not have enough capacity to complete repairs straight away, so you’ll be without a car until they’re done fixing it.


What happens if I get caught with an invalid or expired MOT?

Unfortunately you’re likely to get in trouble if you drive with an expired MOT. If you’re on the way to the garage and you can prove it (most garages will email you a confirmation these days), then you’ll be fine.

If you’re just driving around as normal without an MOT, it’s unlikely the police will give you any leeway. You can get a fine of up to £1,000, and could even get points on your licence. This is because an invalid or expired MOT will often void your car insurance and tax, so you’re ticking the 3 big boxes to get in trouble. The police could even impound your car if they feel you’re willingly ignoring the rules.

So, generally we would say it’s best to get your MOT before it expires.

If you’d like to read more about car insurance and tax, you can check out our blogs ‘Can I tax a car without insurance?’ and ‘Can you drive without road tax?


A few final tips...

So, sadly there is no grace period for getting your MOT. As much as we would all like an extra 14 days to get our test, it just isn’t to be.

But, there is plenty of time to get your MOT, so you don’t need to worry. It might even be worth setting a calendar reminder for your next test, just in case.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.