top of page


& MOT Exemption

The following is a guide to registering a vehicle for the first time. We've also included details of IVA Engine Age Statements and MOTing your modified historic vehicle, as it may be relevant as part of your application process. You'll find that information further down the page.


When it come to registering a vehicle, one of the most off-putting things for a lot of people is the paperwork. Since the inception of the VHRA we have been issuing letters of authentication for barn finds, imports, reconstructed classics and all sorts of vehicles with or without identity. The service also runs to helping with the form filling too.

There are a number of requirements from the DVLA when it comes to confirming the age of a vehicle. If you have old documentation supporting the vehicle registration that clearly shows the chassis number, such as a buff log book, then the application is made via a V765 form. For this you will need a club on the V765 register, of which the VHRA is one, to authenticate what you have. To qualify, cars do need to be complete and in one piece.


In an effort to stay aware of any changes in legislation, The VHRA is a a member of the FBHVC and the HCVA, and we make every effort to keep this page up to date with current legislature. To find out more about the FBHVC or HCVA, click on the logos below.


If the vehicle is bereft of any old UK registration paperwork, such as an import or a barn find, you need to apply using a V55/5 form, which you can find by clicking the form above. You will also need supporting evidence of age, and in the first instance a foreign title or registration document is preferred by the DVLA. After that, a letter from the manufacturer is seen as the next best thing. However, a number of manufacturers don’t have records going way back, Ford is one of those, and that’s where owners clubs come in. Again the VHRA are able to assist in the dating of a vehicle as long as it meets the DVLA requirements, meaning that cars must be close to original, constructed of parts all from the same marque, of the same or very similar vintage, and in a complete, roadworthy condition.


For the VHRA to issue a letter, we firstly need to see a series of photographs of the car in question, which will then be followed up with a physical inspection if we consider it necessary. The photographs must include one of the chassis number, one of the engine number if it has one, one of the engine in place, and photographs from around the car showing the major components to enable us to date the vehicle correctly. The major components that the DVLA outline in their rules are; 


Chassis or monocoque bodyshell

Suspension (front and back)

Axles (both)


Steering assembly



Written confirmation of the numbers and specification of the car are also required to make sure everything tallies up. Whilst cars do need to be roadworthy, they do not need an MOT to prove it. Letters start at £30 for members, £60 for non-members. If a physical inspection is required, (which is the case for all V765 applications for an original number plate), and we to travel to you, both time and travel costs would be at your expense, which starts at £150 and is payable in advance.


That then brings you to actually completing the V55/5, which in DVLA speak is the “Application for first vehicle tax and registration of a used motor vehicle”. As this form covers all used vehicles, including six month old grey imports and the like, there are a number of very confusing questions contained within its two pages that have no relevance to antique vehicles. In an endeavour to help streamline things, we have have compiled an easy to understand guide when it comes to registering a vehicle of the age VHRA members prefer. Follow this and you won’t go far wrong. If the box number isn’t in the list below, just leave it blank on the form.


We’ll start from the top left of the form and work our way through the numbers. This will all make a lot more sense with the V55/5 in front of you.


2 - Historic.

3 - 12 months.

4 - £55.

6 - The make of vehicle, eg: Ford, Chevrolet, etc. 

7 - The model of vehicle, eg: Model A, Model 40, 3100, Bel Air, etc.

8 - Bodystyle, eg: coupe, sedan, sports, etc.

9 - 2 axle rigid.

10 - The colour of your vehicle.

18 - The number of places there are to sit.

27 - Year of manufacture as noted on the title or dating letter supplied by the owners club.


When you come back to the top of the page, there are a couple of boxes without numbers. One is the country the vehicle came from, the other is a lhd/rhd selection. Be sure to fill these in.


30 - Date for tax to start, usually the first of the month, either the current month or the following one.

31 - Fuel type, petrol, diesel, etc.

32 - Chassis number, again as confirmed on the dating letter.

33 - Engine number, don’t worry if you don’t have one, it’s not essential. If it’s there it must be included.

34 - Engine size in cc’s. The DVLA do like the figure to be accurate, not rounded up or down.

46 - if the title only shows a year, put it as 01/01/year, otherwise put the date in full.

47 - same date as box 30.


To the second page…


63 - Name and address.

64 - Date of birth. (Optional)

65 - Write “Exempt due to age”.

66 - Optional, but it won’t hurt to put the mileage.


Then the declaration at the bottom, which needs to be signed and dated.


The DVLA are currently charging £55 to process an application. When sending in the documentation you will also need to include proof of address and ID, for this a copy of your photocard driving licence will suffice. If the vehicle is more than forty years old and meets MOT exemption rules, no MOT is required. If the car is recently imported, you will need to complete a NOVA declaration, which should be done at the time of import. If it has been imported but kicking about for a while, you will need proof of duty paid in the shape of a C&E389 if commercially imported, or a C&E386 for a private import. This needs to be presented to Customs & Excise so they can get the car onto the NOVA system before submitting an application to the DVLA. When you have everything together, send it to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BE.


For more information on registering a vehicle, go to the DVLA website.


V55/5 forms can be obtained from the DVLA website by clicking HERE.


If you need any assistance from the VHRA with registering a vehicle, email us with the details at Before contacting us, remember that cars do need to be mostly original, complete, roadworthy, (if applying via V55/5), and constructed from parts all of the same make and of a similar age. If new parts, or parts from different makes are used, this goes against DVLA regulations and we won’t be able to assist with the registration. It’s also worth noting that the 8 point rule does not apply at first registration, that only applies to vehicles that are already registered. Thanks to some rather diligent campaigning by the FBHVC, some replacement bodies are acceptable when applying for a period registration. To meet the DVLA rules, it must be a body that could have been placed on the frame from the outset, or is of a style which historically has become associated with the marque. 

Anchor 1

IVA ENGINE Age Statement

Whilst the VHRA doesn't get too involved in cars being prepared for an IVA test, as it fall outside the remit of the vast majority of our member's cars, we are recognised by the DVSA to issue Engine Age Statements for engines in cars being built to IVA compliance. This service is for engines of US manufacture, regardless of what they are fitted in, so includes hot rods, street rods, kit cars and one off builds. For us to be in a position to issue a letter, we do need to be able to date the engine with records held in our library, as well as see the engine in person, which must be presented to us at a location of our choosing. If you bring the engine to us, the letters start at £40 for members and £60 for non-members. For us to come to you it starts at £150 and is payable in advance.

MOT Exemption

Originally published December 2017.


It has been a bit of a wait, but the final document to define what is a vehicle of Historic interest has been announced by the DfT. Whilst it isn’t an entirely satisfactory outcome, with a number of modified cars still falling outside its remit, it is a lot less heavy handed than the initial draft proposal from September. Gone completely is the 15% power to weight increase clause, which makes good sense all round. The most important part though, is the acceptance of period modifications, and also a rolling thirty year cut-off, rather than fixed at 1988. It is also made clear that this new legislation has no bearing on taxation, cars being considered historic or registration matters at the DVLA. It is purely for the purpose of roadworthiness testing.

We would like to thank the FBHVC for their tireless efforts in getting the DfT to pay attention to the needs of historic vehicle owners.

The VHRA are on the FBHVC list for giving advice for MOT exemption, but it is only guidance, with the final responsibility of whether to MOT or not in the hands of the owner.


Vehicles of Historical Interest (VHI): Substantial Change Guidance  

Most vehicles manufactured or first registered over 40 years ago will, as of 20 May 2018, be exempt from periodic testing unless they have been substantially changed (1). 


Large goods vehicles (i.e. goods vehicles with a maximum laden weight of more than 3.5 tonnes) and buses (i.e. vehicles with 8 or more seats) that are used commercially will not be exempted from periodic testing at 40 years. 


A vehicle that has been substantially changed within the previous 30 years will have to be submitted for annual MoT testing. Whether a substantially changed vehicle requires re-registration is a separate process. 


Keepers of VHIs exempt from periodic testing continue to be responsible for their vehicle’s roadworthiness. Keepers of vehicles over 40 years old can voluntarily submit vehicles for testing. 


Keepers of VHIs claiming an exemption from the MoT test should make a declaration when renewing their vehicle tax. The responsibility to ensure the declared vehicle is a VHI and meets the criteria, rests with the vehicle keeper as part of their due diligence. If a vehicle keeper is not sure of the status of a vehicle, they can consult a marque or historic vehicles expert, a list of whom will be available on the website of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs. 

If a vehicle keeper cannot determine that the vehicle has not been substantially changed, they should not claim an exemption from the MoT test. 


The criteria for substantial change 


A vehicle will be considered substantially changed if the technical characteristics of the main components have changed in the previous 30 years, unless the changes fall into specific categories. These main components for vehicles, other than motorcycles (2), are: 


Chassis (replacements of the same pattern as the original are not considered a substantial change) or Monocoque bodyshell including any sub-frames (replacements of the same pattern as the original are not considered a substantial change); 


Axles and running gear – alteration of the type and or method of suspension or steering constitutes a substantial change; 


Engine – alternative cubic capacities of the same basic engine and alternative original equipment engines are not considered a substantial change. If the number of cylinders in an engine is different from the original, it is likely to be, but not necessarily, the case that the current engine is not alternative original equipment. 

The following are considered acceptable (not substantial) changes if they fall into these specific categories: 

•  changes that are made to preserve a vehicle, which in all cases must be when original type parts are no longer reasonably 


•  changes of a type, that can be demonstrated to have been made when vehicles of the type were in production or in 

    general use (within ten years of the end of production); 

•  in respect of axles and running gear changes made to improve efficiency, safety or environmental performance; 

•  in respect of vehicles that have been commercial vehicles, changes which can be demonstrated were being made when 

    they were used commercially. 

in addition if a vehicle (including a motorcycle): 

•  has been issued with a registration number with a ‘Q’ prefix; or 

•  is a kit car assembled from components from different makes and model of vehicle; or 

•  is a reconstructed classic vehicle as defined by DVLA guidance; or 

•  is a kit conversion, where a kit of new parts is added to an existing vehicle, or old parts are added to a kit of a 

    manufactured body, chassis or monocoque bodyshell changing the general appearance of the vehicle; 

    it will be considered to have been substantially changed and will not be exempt from MOT testing. 

However if any of the four above types of vehicle is taxed as an “historic vehicle” and has not been modified during the previous 30 years, it can be considered as a VHI. 

This guidance is only intended to determine the testing position of a substantially changed vehicle, not its registration. 


(1) If the type of vehicle is still in production, it is not exempt from periodic testing.
(2) Further arrangements for motorcycles may be introduced, including if core testing standards are considered further internationally.


How to declare a vehicle for the 40 year MOT exemption 

Vehicle keepers are required to ensure that their vehicles are taxed when used on a public road. From 20 May 2018, at the point of taxing a vehicle, the vehicle keeper can declare their vehicle exempt from MOT if it was constructed more than 40 years ago. 


When declaring an exemption, you will be required to confirm that it has not been substantially changed (as defined in this guidance). This process will be applied to pre-1960 registered vehicles, as well as newer vehicles in the historic vehicle tax class. 


If the vehicle does not have an MOT and you wish to continue using it on the public roads, you will have either to undergo an MOT or, if you wish exemption from the MOT, to declare that the vehicle is a VHI. 


If the vehicle has a current MOT certificate but you anticipate that on expiry of that certificate you will wish exemption from future MOTs you will at the time of relicensing be required to declare that the vehicle is a VHI. 



How to tax your vehicle in the historic vehicle tax class 

Where vehicle keepers first apply for the historic vehicle tax class, it must be done at a Post Office. If you are declaring that your vehicle is exempt from MOT, you will need to complete a V112 declaration form, taking into consideration the substantially changed guidelines, (as defined above). Further re-licensing applications, including making subsequent declarations that the vehicle does not require an MOT, can be completed online. 


Further advice on taxing in the historic vehicle tax class can be found via the following link: 



Draft Advice (not part of the Draft Guidance) 


What do I need to do if I am responsible for a vehicle aged more than 40 years old and first registered in or after 1960? 


From 20 May 2018 most of these vehicles will not need a valid MOT certificate to be used on public roads. You still need to keep the vehicle in a roadworthy condition and can voluntarily have a test. We recommend continued regular maintenance and checks of the vehicle. 


You need to check whether the vehicle has been substantially altered in the last 30 years, checking against the criteria (in the guidance above). If it has been altered substantially a valid MOT certificate will continue to be required. If you are unsure check, for example from an expert on historic vehicles (list referenced in the guidance). If you buy a vehicle, we also recommend checking with the previous owner if you can. 


The registration number of a vehicle should not be used to determine if the vehicle is a VHI as it may not reflect the vehicle’s age (cherished transfers, reconstructed classic vehicles etc.) The registration certificate (V5C) is more authoritative, but there are specific cases for example related to imported vehicles where in some cases the age of the vehicle would not have been captured at point of registration. 


If your vehicle does not have a current MOT certificate and is exempt from needing an MOT test you will need to declare this each time when you apply for Vehicle Excise Duty. 

What do I need to do if I am responsible for a vehicle first registered before 1960? 


These vehicles are currently exempt from the requirement for a valid MOT certificate to be used on public roads. Most, but not all, will continue to be exempt. You still need to keep the vehicle in a roadworthy condition and can voluntarily have a test. We recommend continued regular maintenance and checks of the vehicle. 


You need to check whether the vehicle has been substantially altered within the last 30 years checking against the criteria (in the guidance notes). If it has been substantially changed, an MOT certificate will be required for its use on public roads from 20th May 2018, even if the vehicle has previously not required an MOT. 


If your vehicle does not have a current MOT test certificate and is exempt from needing an MOT test you will need to declare this each time when you apply for Vehicle Excise Duty. 


If you are responsible for a large goods vehicle (more than 3.5 tonnes) or a public service vehicle (with 8 or more passenger seats) used commercially, you will require a valid test certificate if the vehicle has been substantially changed in the last 30 years or if, in the case of a goods vehicle, it is used when laden or towing a trailer. 

bottom of page