A one-year MOT temporary exemption certificate (TEC) will be processed automatically from Monday.
The move was confirmed this evening by Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.
This means that owners of all eligible cars, goods vehicles, trailers and motorcycles, will no longer have to book and pay for an MOT appointment in order to get a TEC.
TECs will be applied to eligible vehicles for up to one year from the date the vehicle was due to be tested. Any appointments in the system will now be cancelled and refunds issued.
Due to the volume of refunds being processed, this is taking longer than usual.
Separate arrangements are already in place for taxis and buses, allowing vehicle licences to be renewed without the requirement for prior testing.
Speaking as she addressed the Assembly today, Minister Mallon said: “I am very conscious that for the past number of months one of the areas of significant disruption for people has been the provision of MOTs by the DVA, caused initially by faults in the lifts and more recently by the need to suspend all vehicle testing services in order to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“My officials have been working hard to find a number of solutions for the wide range of vehicles they test and a number of exemptions and extensions are currently in place, some of which are soon due for renewal.
“To avoid any further confusion and until MOT services can be safely resumed, from Monday, DVA will process TECs automatically for all eligible cars, goods vehicles, trailers and motorcycles for up to 12 months from the date the vehicle was due to be tested.
” This will ensure that those needing to make essential journeys can stay on the road. These certificates will be added to the DVA system, not issued in hard copy. As is always the case, DVA will contact customers well in advance of the new MOT due date.”
Vehicles due an MOT soon will also now have a TEC processed automatically. There is now no longer any need to book and pay for a test in order to get a TEC.
DVA is continuing to process refunds for customers who require them as quickly as possible. Given the volume in the system, it is taking longer than usual at present but DVA is working hard to issue these as soon as possible.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd added: “While we understand the need to extend the period of Temporary Exemption Certificates in these unique circumstances, it is critically important that all owners and drivers take responsibility for the maintenance and condition of their vehicles in the absence of an official testing regime.
“Police have a range of enforcement options available from issue of rectification notices, fixed penalties, prosecution or in the most serious cases, prohibit further movement and seizure of the offending vehicle.”
Alastair Ross, Head of Public Policy for Northern Ireland at the Association of British Insurers said: “Insurers recognise that this is a worrying time for everyone and will take a pragmatic view.
“They will not penalise customers for something that is entirely out of their control and where motorists with an MOT exemption certificate request a quote, they will not be prejudiced by their lack of a valid MOT certificate. This applies regardless of whether they wish to renew with their existing insurance provider or are looking to take out a policy with a different insurer.
“Insurers do, however, expect that motorists comply with their legal obligation to keep their vehicle in a roadworthy condition if they are driving it.
“Those affected by the ongoing MOT testing suspension should continue to service their vehicle and carry out basic checks such as looking out for brake wear, ensuring that all lights are working and regularly checking their tyre pressure and tread depth.”
Sign up for our weekly newsletter here.