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Consumer Skills

matthew
12th February 2021

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 12 February 2021.

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

The NI Executive has decided to extend the current Covid-19 restrictions until the 5th March 2021. This will be reviewed on the 18th of February.

Practical driving tests that were booked between the 8th February to 6th of March can be rescheduled here:

Book, view, change, or cancel your practical driving test

The DVA is currently allowing these tests to be rebooked. Practical driving tests that aren’t rebooked a week before the scheduled test date will be cancelled and refunded automatically by the DVA.

Motorcycle practical tests are not being affected by the new restrictions and will continue as normal.

Temporary Exemption Certificates (TECs) will extend by four months for certain vehicle groups. The extension will be from the date of the existing exemption ends. This applies to private cars, light goods vehicles, and motorcycles ages 4-9 years, which will expire between 26 March 2021 and 25 March 2022.

Four-year-old motorcycles, cars, and three-year-old light goods vehicles due to their first test between the above dates will have a four-month TEC applied. The TEC will be applied from the date your first MOT or Goods Vehicle test is due.

New TECs to existing TECs will be applied automatically to allow vehicles to be taxed and kept on the road. You are not required to do anything until you receive a reminder from the DVA to present your vehicle for a test.

For more information: MOT/Vehicle testing

 

Categories of vehicles with resumed testing & how to book

Vehicle testing resuming for more categories of vehicles

Vehicle testing is currently available for a number of vehicles:

The following categories can be booked a vehicle test and will receive reminders. Customers are encouraged to check their vehicle expiry date through Check the MOT status of a vehicle

  • Four-year-old private cars, including ones with a six-month Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC)

  • Four-year-old motorcycles

  • Three-year-old light good vehicles

  • Private cars, motorcycles and light good vehicles that are older than four years old and have already availed of a Temporary Exemption Certificate for a 12 month period, which is due to expire

  • All heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) that are due to test from 1st September 2020

  • All trailers due to test from 1 September 2020

The following categories are able to rebook a test but will not receive an automatic reminder from the DVA.

  • Vehicles not registered or tested in Northern Ireland and are due to test

  • Vehicles with MOT which has expired by more than 12 months

  • Vehicles that currently declare SORN (only if the previous MOT has expired by more than 12 months or if the vehicle is now due its first test)

  • Buses that are due a first test (Not for ‘hire and reward’ use)

Please note that capacity within the test centre network remains limited due to COVID 19.

The DVA has stopped issuing Temporary Exemption Certificates for the vehicles listed above, and will now be issuing reminder notices to owners on how they can book a test. As your vehicle approaches their test date you will be sent a reminder. Please remember that capacity at test centres will remain limited due to COVID-19.

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 and buses (for ‘hire and reward’ use) that are due for a first-time test can also book a vehicle test. They will require a separate approval and will follow a different process outlined in the links below.

Taxis will require a taximeter test before they can take a vehicle test.

The DVA will contact 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. 

All driving licences with an expiry date from 1 January 2021 must be renewed. Click here to renew your driving licence

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]

Please note: The extension of driving licences does not apply to Taxi Drivers. Taxi Drivers should continue to apply the recommended 16 weeks in advance of their licence expiry date at the DVA online portal. You can access the portal by clicking this link.

Royal National Institute for Deaf People

Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) are unable to offer face-to-face services. They are available to offer you support on email, over the phone and through video calls.

Visit the RNID website for more information.

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. 

The RNID website has more information and tips on communication with face masks.