A historic vehicle, according to the DVLA, is typically a car or motorcycle that’s at least 40 years old. This “40-year rule” determines whether a vehicle qualifies for historic status. Once a vehicle turns 40, it becomes eligible for various benefits, including exemption from both MOT testing and road tax.

However this does not happen automatically, you need to contact the DVLA yourself to get the ball rolling. You can check if you are eligible and apply on the DVLA Historic (classic) vehicles page.

The process and rules are a bit different for exemption from MOT and from road tax, so lets go over road tax exemptions first.

Is my car eligible to become exempt from Road Tax?

If your car is over 40 years old then yes it should be exempt from paying road tax. However this may not happen as soon as the car turns 40, and you may need to continue paying until April of the following year.

Is my car automatically eligible after turning 40 years old?

Possibly but it is not guaranteed. Your vehicle will be exempt from MOT testing however you will need to continue paying road tax until April of the next year. The DVLA does have a grace period, here is how it works:

  • The DVLA will consider vehicles first registered on or before 7th January to have been registered in the year previous. So a car registered on 7th January 1984 will be considered registered in 1983.
  • If your vehicle was first registered in 1983 you would be exempt from paying road tax from April 2024 onwards.
  • If your vehicle was first registered on January 8th 1984, you wont qualify for exemption from road tax until April 2025.

How do you apply for vehicle tax exemption?

You can apply for vehicle tax exemption at the Post Office. However you will need the following documents:

  • The VC5 log book in your name
  • If you have one, a vehicle tax reminder letter
  • A MOT certificate that will be valid when the tax starts, or proof that your vehicle is exempt from MOT testing (V112 form)
  • An insurance certificate or cover note (NI only)

If you dont have the log book you can download and complete the application for a log book V62 form with £25 to the Post Office.

What happens after you apply for vehicle tax exemption?

  1. The Post Office will send your application to the DVLA.
  2. The DVLA will send you an updated log book.
  3. You will get a refund (if you are eligible for one). If you dont receive a refund within 6 weeks of receiving your updated log book Contact the DVLA.

Do I need to do anything after I have vehicle tax exemption?

Yes in the year following you will receive a tax reminder letter from the DVLA. You will need to renew your tax with the DVLA or risk driving without tax. Don’t worry though, whilst you still have to tax the vehicle, you will not have to pay anything.

Don’t forget to do this though, driving without tax can leave you liable to pay a £80 fine if stopped by the police.

Historic vehicle mot and tax exemption - a classic cars steering wheel

Is my car eligible to become exempt from MOT tests?

Yes if your car was first registered 40 years ago and it has not undergone any ‘substantial changes’ old then you are eligible to be exempt from MOT testing.

What is a substantial change?

A vehicle is considered substantially changed if any of its main components have been significantly altered in the past 30 years. These main components for vehicles (excluding motorcycles) include:

  1. Chassis or monocoque bodyshell, unless replaced with the same pattern as the original.
  2. Axles and running gear, when the type or method of suspension or steering is altered.
  3. Engine changes, except for alternative cubic capacities of the same basic engine or alternative original equipment engines (unless the number of engine cylinders differs from the original).

Acceptable Changes (Not Substantial): Changes are considered non-substantial if they fall into specific categories:

  • Modifications made to preserve a vehicle when original parts are no longer available.
  • Alterations that were common when vehicles of the same type were being produced or widely used within ten years of the end of production.
  • Changes to axles and running gear aimed at enhancing efficiency, safety, or environmental performance.
  • Adjustments made to commercial vehicles during their commercial use, with demonstrated purposes.

Automatic Substantial Changes: A vehicle is automatically deemed substantially changed if it fits into any of these categories:

  • It bears a registration number beginning with a ‘Q’ prefix.
  • It is a kit car assembled using components from different makes and models.
  • It is a classic vehicle reconstructed according to DVLA guidelines.
  • It undergoes a kit conversion, involving the addition of new parts to an existing vehicle or the incorporation of old parts into a kit featuring a manufactured body, chassis, or monocoque bodyshell, thereby altering the vehicle’s overall appearance.
Historic Vehicle MOT and Tax v112 Form

How do I apply MOT exemption for my vehicle?

  1. Confirm that the vehicle was first registered more than 40 years ago
  2. Confirm that no substantial changes have been made to the vehicle. If you are not sure you will need to contact a classic car specialist.
  3. If your vehicle does not currently have a current MOT certificate you will need to undertake a test and get one.
  4. To apply for exemption from MOT you will need to complete V112 Form from the DVLA.
  5. Once completed send the V112 Form to “DVLA Swansea, SA99 1DD”.

Can I apply for MOT exemption online?

Unfortunately not, you need to download, print and complete the V112 Form and send it from the Post Office.

Can the police stop me if I have an MOT exemption?

You won’t be stopped by the police if you are driving without an MOT but have an exemption. However this does not mean they can’t pull you over for a problem with your vehicle. If they find that it has a dangerous fault you would still be found to have committed an offense and be liable to receive 3 points on your license and up to £2500 fine.

Just because the car exempt from MOT testing does not mean that you are not responsible for making sure the vehicle is roadworthy.

Is it safe for Historic Cars to be exempt from MOT?

This was the first question I had when I that heard historical cars are exempt from MOT testing, however the reasons why are understandable. It has been found that the people who own a historic vehicle are also the type that will generally care very well for the vehicle. It was also found that the vehicle will generally be used on the road much less than normal cars. Both of these factors combined dramatically reduce the chance of the cars being unsafe to drive on public roads.

Can I still take my car for an MOT test even if I have an exemption?

Yes you can and you should. You may not be obligated to get and MOT test but it is more responsible to check every now and then that the safety of the vehicle is okay. Classic cars are at just as much risk of running into problems as other cars, the bodywork can rust, the structure can weaken, the tyres can wear.

Considering the average value of historic vehicles, and the importance of safety, it is absolutely in your interest to have the car tested every now and then. It is better to catch any of these issues early when they are still easy to fix.

What happened to the 25 year rule?

The UK did have a 25 year MOT and tax exemption in place until 1997, however this was abolished by the Labour government. It wasn’t until 2015 that the MOT and tax exemption was brought back, however the qualification was changed to 40 years instead.

Find out more about MOT’s

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