Our plans for heavy vehicle testing

Lorry at an ATF

Our plans for heavy vehicle testing

Heavy vehicle testing restarted at Authorised Testing Facilities (ATFs) on 04 July 2020.

As you know, we’ve been issuing certificates of temporary exemption (CTEs) to vehicles and trailers due for test.

We’re now able to confirm our longer-term plans to help manage testing demand:

  • Exemptions will be in use until March 2021
  • 3-month exemptions will continue for all vehicles and trailers that have not already received one
  • 12-month exemptions will be introduced for certain operators, vehicles and trailers

Issuing further exemptions

Vehicles and trailers due for test up to March 2021 will get a 3-month exemption if they have not already received one.

But certain vehicles and trailers due for test up to March 2021 will get longer exemptions.

What is the criteria?

Fleets which are considered to be safer will get 12-month exemptions.

Newer vehicles and trailers, Earned Recognition operators and those demonstrating a higher level of compliance generally have the lowest test failure rates.

Exemption status Eligibility
12-month exemption


  • Earned Recognition operator (whole fleet)
  • Operator in green OCRS roadworthiness band with 50 or more roadworthiness events and a calculated roadworthiness base score of 1.3 or lower on 27 July 2020
  • Vehicle or trailer up to 2 years old
3-month exemption
  • Not previously had an exemption and not eligible for a 12-month exemption (see above)


How will this work?

All exemptions will be applied automatically.

3-month exemptions will apply from the original test date. For example, a vehicle with a test originally due in September 2020 will be moved to December 2020.

12-month exemptions will also apply from the original test date. For example, a vehicle with a test originally due in March 2020 which got an exemption to September 2020 will be moved to March 2021.

The full table of exemptions and new test dates is included at the end of this message.

For Public Service Vehicles (PSVs), the exact date of expiry will be retained. So, if the vehicle is due for test on 15 September 2020 and gets a 3-month exemption, it will move to 15 December 2020.

Operators of dangerous goods vehicles who are getting an exemption for the first time should complete the application for an ADR annual inspection waiver to keep their inspection date in line with the new test date.

Further information will be provided directly to dangerous goods operators.

12-month exemptions - eligible operators

Longer exemptions will only be applied to vehicles and trailers specified on operator licences.

All eligible operators should ensure their vehicle lists on Vehicle Operator Licensing (VOL) are up to date by 21 August 2020. Trailer data can alternatively be provided in an Excel file. We will provide details to operators on how to do this for trailers.

Operators with a green OCRS roadworthiness score can find out if they will qualify for a 12-month exemption by asking for a copy of their OCRS report covering the 3 year period to 27 July 2020.

12-month exemptions - eligible vehicles

Longer exemptions will be applied to vehicles and trailers which are up to 2 years old. This will not be linked to OCRS score or operator licence status.

If an exemption has already been issued to the vehicle or trailer, the test date will be made up to 12 months.

This will retain the test date and month of the original test prior to any exemption being issued.

When will exemptions be applied?

We will begin to apply 3-month exemptions immediately.

12-month exemptions will be processed from 24 August 2020 and we will start with vehicles and trailers which are due in for test in August 2020 (those with 3-month exemptions issued in May 2020).

Some PSVs will not get longer exemptions prior to their August 2020 test expiry date because the individual expiry date is before 24 August 2020.

You can use MOT test history to confirm vehicle test expiry dates.

You should continue to manage the regular maintenance and inspection schedule for your vehicles and trailers during the exemption period. This is a legal requirement under your operator’s licence.

What advice have we given to ATFs?

We’ve given ATFs guidance on the vehicle tests they should prioritise. The highest priority are those vehicles and trailers which legally need a test.

So, we’ve asked ATFs to prioritise:

  1. Vehicles/trailers legally due a test within a month
  2. Vehicles/trailers going on international journeys
  3. Dangerous goods vehicles
  4. Specialist vehicle types (eg. refuse vehicles, gritters)
  5. Prohibition clearances

If you will now benefit from longer exemptions and have tests booked in the next few months, we would like you to reschedule those appointments to create space for vehicles which will legally require a test.

What if my exemption is expiring and I cannot get a test?

It’s important that vehicles and trailers are only presented when tests are due. 

We’ll be making more testing staff available to ATFs at short notice. So, it’s worth checking availability several times with a range of ATFs.

If you’ve taken all reasonable steps to find an appointment and you are unable to secure a test, you’ll be able to notify us. We’ll provide more information about this shortly.

Exemptions Planner

Original Test Due Date New Test Due Date
Eligible for 12-month exemption Not eligible for 12-month exemption
March 2020 March 2021 September 2020
April 2020 April 2021 October 2020
May 2020 May 2021 August 2020
June 2020 June 2021 September 2020
July 2020 July 2021 October 2020
August 2020 August 2021 November 2020
September 2020 September 2021 December 2020
October 2020 October 2021 January 2021
November 2020 November 2021 February 2021
December 2020 December 2021 March 2021
January 2021 January 2022 April 2021
February 2021 February 2022 May 2021
March 2021 March 2022 June 2021