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Consumer Skills

matthew
21st October 2020

Coronavirus: Impact to Services in Northern Ireland

Information about the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) to general services in Northern Ireland, such as MOT centres.

The information on this page was last updated on 21 October 2020.

Consumer Advice

Belfast City Council's Consumer Advice Service is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

If you have any consumer queries or complaints relating to water, electricity, transport (including flights), post and parking please contact The Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 or contact@consumercouncil.org.uk.

Driving Tests and MOT test centres

Car and lorry driving tests resumed on 1 September 2020. Driving tests for key workers and those who have had their tests cancelled will take priority. 

MOT testing also resumed on 1 September 2020. Open the drop-down menu below to see the full update from the DVA regarding the re-opening on 1 September 2020. 

Click here to check the MOT status of your car

For the most up-to-date info, click here to visit the NI Direct MOT webpage.

 

Categories of vehicles with resumed testing & how to book

Vehicle testing resuming for more categories of vehicles

From 1 September, the DVA extended vehicle testing to further categories of vehicles. These categories include:

  • four year old private cars
  • four year old motorcycles
  • three year old light goods vehicles
  • heavy goods vehicles
  • trailers
  • vehicles not registered in Northern Ireland and due a test
  • vehicles with MOT expired by more than 12 months
  • vehicles currently declared SORN (only if the previous MOT has expired by more than 12 months or if the vehicle is now due its first test).
  • buses due a first time test (not for ‘hire and reward’ use)

The DVA is no longer issuing Temporary Exemption Certificates for the vehicles in the categories listed above, and will instead issue reminder notices to the owners with instructions on how to book a test. Reminders will be sent as the vehicles approach their test due date. Please note that capacity within the test centre network remains limited due to COVID 19.

Vehicle testing will remain unavailable for private cars and motorcycles over five years old, as well as light goods vehicles over four years old. Owners of these vehicles should not attempt to book an appointment. Vehicles in these categories will continue to avail of a Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC) until testing has fully resumed.

If your vehicle is in one of these categories you will need to ring the booking line on 0345 247 2471 to arrange an appointment. Bookings are available by phone only.

This number is exclusively for booking vehicle testing appointments. Other queries should continue to be submitted using the contact details provided in the Contacting the Driving and Vehicle Agency (DVA) section, on this page.

Taxis and buses (for ‘hire and reward’ use) due a first time test can also be booked in for a vehicle test. These vehicles require a separate approval and follow a different process outlined in the links below.

Taxis require a taximeter test before they can undertake a vehicle test. DVA will be in contact with customers to arrange their taximeter test.

Private vehicles of historic interest

New legislation to exempt private vehicles of historic interest from annual MOT testing come into effect from 12 October 2020.

The change applies to private vehicles constructed or first registered more than 40 years ago and aligns Northern Ireland legislation with that in GB.

The amended legislation is The Goods Vehicles (Testing) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 and The Motor Vehicle Testing (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020.

The exemption applies to vehicles which have not been substantially altered, or are no longer in production. In Northern Ireland vehicles first registered before 1960 are already exempt from periodic testing

In addition, the exemption will also include other, non-car vehicle types such as motorcycles and light goods vehicles (LGVs) having no more than 3.5 tonnes maximum gross weight. These vehicles must also no longer be in production and must not be substantially changed.

 

Driving Licensing

In accordance with EU Regulations, all driving licences with an expiry date between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2020 will be treated as valid for a further 11 months. 

This extension will be automatically applied, the driver record will not be updated and renewal licences may not be issued during this period. 

Drivers whose licence expiry falls within these dates are not required to take any action on the expiry of their licence.

For some drivers this will remove the requirement to have a medical assessment conducted at this difficult time.

Note the extension does not apply to provisional driving licences that expire in this period.  A provisional driving licence can be renewed online by clicking this link

[Source: NI Direct]

Action on Hearing Loss

Action on Hearing Loss is currently unable to offer face-to-face services. This includes their Information Service, Hearing Aid Support Service, Tinnitus Support Service and Employment Service.  They will still continue to support people who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus via phone, email and text and they are currently exploring options for video calls.  They can also post out hearing aid batteries where possible.  They have updated the contact details for all their services on their website so you know who to contact for support.

Download their leaflet by clicking here or click here for further contact details

Communication problems due to face masks  

COVID-19 poses unique challenges for communicating, as many of those with hearing loss rely on visual cues, such as lip-reading and facial expression, for communication. This visual information is lost when someone is on a telephone or wearing a mask.

In order to adapt to overcome this barrier we may need to adapt to new ways of communicating and using additional resources in order to communicate effectively. 

Action on Hearing Loss are pleased to offer FREE online talk ‘Overcoming Communication Barriers during COVID-19’  to groups and organisations working with older people and people with hearing loss. It can be delivered via Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another online platform that is suitable for you.

To book or for further information you can contact paula.mcanulty@hearingloss.org.uk or 028 9023 9619