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Can Cameras Perform a DVLA MOT Check?

The days of being able to defy the law, by driving a vehicle without a valid MOT are long gone. Authorities now use sophisticated technology to check whether you are driving a particular vehicle in accordance with the regulations, and a fine will await those who do not comply. Of course, you want to be a law-abiding citizen and make sure that all your paperwork is in order, but can cameras perform a DVLA MOT check and what do you need to know about this process?


Firstly, it may help to understand who is in charge of this type of check, and if you get confused by those acronyms, you're not alone. In this case, the difference between these FLA's (four-letter acronyms) is in the third letter.

If you want to get a driver license so you can pilot a vehicle on British roads, you'll get this from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority. However, if you want to check if the car is in an appropriate condition, you will interact with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.

Of course, there's more to each agency.

The DVLA maintains a database of all drivers. You need to tell them if you change your address or develop a medical condition that may affect your driving capability. If you accumulate any points on your licence, the DVLA will hold this data, and if you want to hire a car these days, rental companies may also access your record here.

Further, the agency maintains a database of vehicle records. You will be able to do your DVLA MOT vehicle check here, for example. If you want to register a car for the first time using a V5C, you need to do it through their office in Swansea.

The DVSA, on the other hand, is in charge of driving tests and all examiners will report to this body. They are also in control of the MOT test itself and license independent businesses to perform the work. In addition, the DVSA will send officers out into the field to check HGVs or buses and look for mechanical faults.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition

The Standards Agency makes full use of automatic number plate recognition technology across the country. You will come across cameras equipped with this capability at thousands of locations but primarily at busy places throughout the "strategic road network." You won't find a list of these locations, but the DVSA does have to justify installation before they can go ahead.

The agency shares information captured by ANPR with the police. If they run your registration number through their central database, they'll immediately know if a vehicle does not have an MOT or, indeed any tax.

You may receive a fixed penalty notice of £100 if they catch you in this situation. However, if you do not pay or you prefer the case to go to court, the maximum potential fine is £1000.


If you forget when your vehicle is due for a test, or are in the process of buying another one, you can visit a government webpage for further details. Here, you'll need to enter the registration number, and you will then see both the tax and MOT status, together with other information about the vehicle.

Check MOT Status for Your Car in the Past

You can also check the past MOT history of any vehicle, so long as you have the V5C number. You can learn what parts failed at each particular test as well.

Getting an MOT Test

You must ensure that you have an MOT for most vehicles from their third year of registration onward. You need to perform this once per year at a recognised test centre. The government mandates a maximum fee of £54.85 for a car or small van.

Broadly speaking, an inspector will check:

  • brakes,

  • tyres, wheels and pressure monitoring system,

  • fuel system,

  • steering and suspension,

  • windscreen and wipers,

  • battery and wiring,

  • seats and seat belts,

  • exhaust and emissions,

  • lights,

  • general body or vehicle structure.

Pass or Fail

If you pass, then you will get a certificate, and the information will go into the database. The inspector may draw up a list of areas for you to look at as well.

If you fail, the inspector will tell you why and will give you a list of major or dangerous problems. They'll also record this failure in the MOT database.

If the inspector identified some "dangerous" problems, then you will not be able to drive the vehicle until you get them fixed. If you do so, a judge could ban you from driving, and give you three penalty points together with a fine of up to £2,500.

You may not need to pay the full fee for a retest if the vehicle does fail under certain circumstances.

  • If you leave it at that facility, they finish the repair and retest it within ten days, then you won't need to pay a fee at all for this partial retest.

  • You will not have to pay if you take the repaired vehicle back to the same centre by the end of the next working day. This offer may only apply to specific components so you should ask the technician for further details.

  • The testing centre will apply a partial retest fee if you take the vehicle away but then return within ten working days.

Getting a Reminder

It can be easy to forget that your MOT test is due, but the government can send you a friendly reminder. You can go here and enter your registration number together with an email address or mobile phone number. They will then send you a reminder one month before your MOT is due.

In Closing

If you spend a lot of time behind the wheel but are not mechanically inclined, you may not know if your car develops an urgent problem. It's always a good idea, therefore, to keep up with those MOT tests. You can always perform a DVLA MOT check online or get a reminder, rather than generate a fine through that camera technology.