Paperwork is disappearing from our lives at a rapid rate, as more of us than ever opt to manage our finances online. By and large, it’s a positive step as it means less waste, less paper and if you lose a bank statement or utility bill, you can just log into your account to get a duplicate. But what is the situation with MOT certificates? What happens if you’ve lost your MOT certificate and need to get a new one?
You’re Not Alone!
If you have misplaced your MOT certificate or chucked it in the recycling by mistake, don’t panic. You’re not alone. The government’s own figures show that around 636,000 replacement MOT certificates were sent out in 2018 – around 2% of the total number of certificates issued that year. There’s a lot of reasons why someone might need to request a certificate, and it’s not just about losing them. Original certificates can easily get badly damaged too.
In May 2019, the DVLA made it even easier for drivers to get a copy of their car’s MOT certificate. The whole process can now be done online, through the Check MOT History section of the Gov.uk website. Anyone is free to see basic information about whether a car is taxed or has a valid MOT at any time. All you need is a registration number, and this is a useful tool if you’re thinking of buying a car or just want to check up on whether a car is likely to have been abandoned. However, if you want for in-depth information about where a car had its last MOT test, then you need some extra documents too.
In order to get to the more detailed information about a vehicle, and to the section about requesting a new MOT certificate, you need to have the vehicle’s V5 form, also known as the log book. There is a unique 11 digit code on the log book form which has to be input into the website to request the duplicate. This is a security measure to stop people trying to request certificates for cars they don’t own. Once you’ve printed out a duplicate, keep it somewhere safe. It’s also a good idea to make a note in your diary to book your MOT in plenty of time before it expires. You don’t get automatic MOT reminders in the same way as reminders for car tax.
Going Back to the Garage
The other option is to ask the test centre which provided the MOT in the first place to print you another copy. Again, you’ll need the 11 digit code from your V5 document to provide to them. Garages will also need the reference number from the original certificate. If the certificate has been lost, it is perhaps unlikely that the customer will have this, although the garage may have it on their own records. If it’s a busy garage with lots of customers then you might have a bit of a wait until someone has time to get your paperwork. Garages are also allowed to charge up to £10 for printing off a duplicate certificate. There’s no charge if you do this yourself by accessing the DVLA website.
The move to online MOT details has also seen a growth in unofficial websites offering to provide duplicate MOT certificates. These websites should be used with caution. Some might be simply charging for a service which you can get free of charge by going directly to the DVLA website. Others offer many other types of services such as reminders when your MOT or service is due, insurance, car owners forums or numerous other services. There’s nothing wrong with paying to be a member of this type of website if you choose to do so. However, it’s important to be aware of exactly what the membership fee is, and what you get for your money.
Why do I need to keep the MOT certificate anyway?
Before the system went digital, your MOT certificate was essential for taxing your car. In the days of the paper tax disc, the only way of paying car tax was to go to the Post Office with your insurance policy and MOT certificate. If you’re taxing your car now, all you need to do is go through the DVLA website. This is the same website which holds information about whether or not a car has a valid MOT, so there’s no need to enter the details again. The website won’t let you tax your car without a valid MOT, and vice versa.
The MOT certificate is however very useful when you come to sell your car. Most buyers are aware that they can check up on MOT history online and will usually have done a bit of homework before arriving to look at the car. But having lots of paperwork from MOT certificates to a stamped service book and lots of detail about work which has been done to the car will help prove that the car has been looked after properly.
What’s Likely to Go Digital in the Future?
The government as a whole has been trying to digitise many of its functions, from claiming benefits such as Universal Credit to applying for a passport or completing your tax return. Now that the MOT and car tax system has been made easier for the drivers, they are turning their attention to the testing stations and the mechanics. Lots of MOT related information is passed on through their blog, where testers can share “horror stories” of the worst cars which have come through their garage that month.
Manuals and inspection guides are being put online so that when guidelines change, mechanics can log in and get their training online rather than having to give up free time to go to a session. This sort of testing information is not password protected, so any drivers who are interested can look at it too.