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Last checked: 17/05/2018

Car registration documents and formalities – United Kingdom

Affected by Brexit?

Roadworthiness tests

If you buy a new car in the United Kingdom you must have it checked again for roadworthiness three years after. The Ministry of Transport (MOT) test ascertains whether a vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. All cars over three years old must be tested annually. It is illegal in the UK to drive a vehicle that has not passed the annual MOT, except when driving to or from a test centre. Any person caught driving with an expired MOT certificate may be fined. The MOT certificate is required when paying road tax.

If you have a used car manufactured after 1960 you must have it tested annually for roadworthiness.

A roadworthiness test doesn't have to be conducted each time a vehicle changes owner.

If you register your car as a new resident in the United Kingdom, moving from another EU country, you don't have to take the roadworthiness test.

Contact body for roadworthiness tests.

To ensure your vehicle and its equipment function correctly and comply with safety standards, it must undergo the regular roadworthiness tests, which are generally comprised of the specific checks. The UK MOT requirements will change as from 20 May 

A vehicle cannot be insured without an up to date roadworthiness test, and so would not be legally on the road.


You can register your vehicle at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

To register an imported vehicle (new or used), you can obtain a vehicle import pack.

Registration for non-nationals

It is an offence for a citizen to drive a vehicle that is unregistered.

You can usually use a vehicle with foreign number plates without registering or taxing it in the UK if all of the following apply:

  • you're visiting and don't plan to live here
  • the vehicle is registered and taxed in its home country
  • you only use the vehicle for up to 6 months in total - this can be a single visit, or several shorter visits over 12 months

More information on temporary importing a vehicle into the UK. 

A helpline is available to respond to any specific concerns.


Every vehicle in the UK has to be legally taxed and insured.  A vehicle that does not legally comply with UK law may be clamped, removed and impounded, in addition to a fine being imposed.

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