How to check a car that has MOT

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is an annual test of automobile safety, roadworthiness and exhaust emissions for a vehicle more than 3 years old in the United Kingdom. When purchasing a used vehicle, you can check online to see if an MOT test certificate is valid and determine the testing dates for the vehicle.

Obtain a VT20 test certificate from the current owner or seller, if the vehicle previously passed an MOT test. Get a VT30 refusal certificate if the vehicle failed the MOT test. Or, get a V5C registration certificate, a logbook that lists many details about the vehicle. Check that the documents match the vehicle. You will need the numbers on the certificates to access MOT information online. You will also need a number plate number.

Go online to Navigate to the "Motoring" page. Click on "MOT status check." Enter the MOT number from the VT20 certificate, or the VT30 refusal certificate number, and the plate number. You can enter your document's reference number from the V5C registration certificate if you do not have a VT20 test certificate or VT30 refusal certificate.

Check the information. Look for the date of the last test, mileage at the time of the test and when the MOT expires. Compare this information against the paper certificates to make sure it is genuine. It is an offence to drive without a valid MOT in the U.K. The police have an extensive automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) CCTV network which they use to track a vehicle's movements in real time.

Check the background of the vehicle's tests on the Motoring page. Compare this information against the paper certificate to make sure it is genuine. Verify that the MOT history matches the information on the MOT certificates. The history includes mileage at the time of the test and when the MOT expires.

Click on the "MOT History Check" link on the Motoring page. You will be taken to an MOT history request form. Use the same information you used to check the status of the MOT to obtain the history of tests going back to 2005, when the MOT program was launched. The website will display the dates of the tests, the odometer reading when the tests were done and the expiration date of the previous tests.


The MOT history gives you an idea about the service history of the vehicle. It is better to find out such information on your own rather taking everything the seller tells you at face value.


Always check the validity of an MOT when purchasing a used vehicle.

Things You'll Need

  • V5C registration
  • Plate number
  • VT20 test certificate
  • VT30 refusal certificate
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About the Author

Gilbert Manda has written financial news since 2000. He holds a professional diploma from the London School of Journalism, a Bachelor of Science in global business and public policy from the University of Maryland and a Master of Arts in international journalism from City University London.