Your guide to checking MOT history

By UK law, an MOT is required on your vehicle once it is three years old. The certification verifies that your car is road legal and safe to drive. It needs to be renewed every year. 

An MOT Test will check integral components of your vehicle to ensure it’s in a roadworthy condition. If your vehicle meets the standards set by the DVSA you will be issued a new valid MOT certificate for the next 12 months. 

Discover what’s checked in an MOT on our dedicated page

For vehicles that are a few years old, you can check a car’s MOT history. This information can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Why check MOT history?

This is a useful exercise for anyone considering buying a second-hand car.

You’ll get clarity on major defects that require immediate repair (or did in the past) and parts of the vehicle that should be monitored (advisories). Also included: mileage information, the dates the car was tested, and reasons why the car failed an MOT (if applicable). 

Simply input the registration number into the government’s MOT history checker to get this information.

Doing your due diligence can prevent you buying a car that has major defects, or is simply not suitable for the road. 

You might also want to refer to the GOV website if you own the car but are unsure when your MOT expires. The date will of renewal will be clearly stated at the top of the page.

The other major reason to check MOT history? If you own a car and are unsure when your MOT expires.

Driving without a valid MOT can incur a £1,000 fine, so it’s important you don’t let the date come and go. Discover more about penalties on our dedicated Driving without an MOT page.

Does this cover vehicle tax and MOT?

No – for vehicle tax you’ll want to head over to the site and follow the instructions. You need to tax your vehicle even if you are exempt from paying anything, so be sure to check out the link above. 

What if my car fails the MOT test? 

Refer to our companion article, which looks at MOT failure, to find out your options.