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Classic Car MOT Rules and Requirements 2020

Do you drive a classic car? If so, are you aware that the MOT regulations for classic cars recently changed?

This is your essential guide to the new classic car MOT rules and requirements for 2020 and beyond. Don’t worry – if you drive a classic car, the rules changed for the better!

What is a Classic Car?

What’s the difference between a “classic car” and a car that is simply “old”? The government law applies to “historic” vehicles. And really, it’s just a question of when your car was first built or registered.

According to the government guidelines, a classic car is any car that was first built or registered more than 40 years ago. The cut-off point is currently 1 January 1980. If your car was built or registered before this date, then you’re driving a classic car.

Don’t know when exactly your car was first built? Don’t worry. If it was first registered between 1 and 7 January 1980, the government still considers it to be a historical “classic” car.

This 40 year rule is rolling. From 2021, the cut-off point will be 1 January 1981. From 2022, it will be 1 January 1982. And so on.

So if you’re driving a car that was first built or registered in the early 80s, you won’t have long to wait until it’s a “classic car”.

New MOT Rules for Classic Cars in 2020

Previously, any car first registered before 1960 was exempt from an annual MOT. But the law changed on 20 May 2018. Now, any car built or registered before that 1 January 1980 cut-off point is exempt from an annual MOT test. Even better, these cars are exempt from car tax.

But if you drive a classic car, there are a few things to bear in mind:

  • You need to apply for a vehicle tax exemption, to register your car as belonging to the “historic tax class”. Head here to apply.
  • Though you don’t have to apply for MOT exemption, the government still expects you to keep your classic car in a roadworthy condition. If you drive your car in a dangerous condition, you could get 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of up to £2,500. Head here for a guide to what the government classes as a “roadworthy condition”.
  • Even though it’s no longer a legal requirement, you can still choose to get an MOT every year. Think of this as a safety precaution – your annual reassurance that your classic car’s still safe, roadworthy and legal.

Exemptions to New MOT Rules for Classic Cars

Your classic car is not exempt from an annual MOT if you or anyone else has made “substantial changes” to it in the past 30 years. What does the government mean by “substantial changes”? If you’ve changed the car’s chassis, bodyshell, or sub-frames, then the government doesn’t consider this to be a substantial change.

Nor do they consider many changes to the cars engine to be substantial changes. However, they do view changes to the car’s steering or suspension as substantial changes – but not if you made these changes to improve the car’s safety or efficiency.

There’s a long list of the substantial change criteria on the government’s website. It’s worth reading, as there are different rules for larger vehicles, and motorcycles are largely exempt from all the rules. Head here to read the complete guidance.

Do I have to Tax or MOT a Classic Car I Don’t Drive?

If you own a classic car, but you don’t drive it, it is of course still exempt from car tax and an annual MOT. However, you will have to register the car as being off-road. For this, you’ll need to make a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). Head here for more information.

What About Car Insurance?

Classic cars may be exempt from car tax and MOTs, but they’re not exempt from car insurance. If you have an accident in your classic car you want the reassurance that you will be covered for any repair work that might be needed so you can get back on the road as quickly as possible. With fully comprehensive insurance you will have that peace of mind.

At Go Girl, we specialise in giving you the cover you need at a price you can afford. Head here to get an online quote in minutes.