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A Guide to UK Garage M.O.T. Test Centers and How to Get Started

The Ministry of Transport test, commonly known as the M.O.T., is a crucial aspect of vehicle ownership in the UK. It is an annual safety and emissions inspection that ensures vehicles on the road meet the required standards for roadworthiness and environmental impact.

To conduct these tests, M.O.T. bays play a pivotal role as specialised testing centres where vehicles are examined to determine if they meet the necessary legal requirements. In this article, we will explore what an M.O.T. bay is, the essential requirements to run an M.O.T. testing centre in the UK, and how aspiring entrepreneurs or existing garage owners can get started in this vital and highly profitable industry.

What is an M.O.T. Bay?

An MOT Bay consists of a range of equipment approved by the Drivers and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and is located normally within a workshop or garage setting.

An M.O.T. bay, also referred to as an M.O.T. testing bay or station, is a designated area within a garage or testing facility where a qualified Ministry of Transport (MOT) tester carries out the MOT test on a vehicle. This ensures vehicles on UK roads meet the legal standards set by the DVSA to drive on UK roads.

If the vehicle doesn’t meet these standards, then the MOT tester will fail the vehicle giving the motorist the opportunity to rectify the problem and bring the vehicle back to MOT standards and allowing the MOT tester to issue a pass certificate.

What Garage Equipment is Required for an M.O.T. Bay?

The equipment on the MOT bay allows the MOT tester to test each part of the vehicle.

For example, the MOT bay is equipped with a headlamp beam tester. The headlamp beam test ensures that the headlights of the vehicle are in the correct alignment whilst the vehicle is in motion. This part of the MOT test is to make sure that when the vehicle is been driven that its headlights don’t dazzle oncoming vehicles which could impair the vision of another motorist.

Other parts of the MOT test include testing the brakes using a roller brake tester (RBT). This piece of equipment tests the vehicle brakes whilst in motion. The tester will place the vehicle in the rollers and the RBT will spin at around 7mph giving the MOT tester the opportunity to test the brakes by using the equipment within the workshop setting.

Another piece of equipment used to carry out an MOT test is the emissions tester, also known as a gas and smoke analyser. This test determines the level of air pollutants emitted from the exhaust of a motor vehicle. The goal of an emission test is to help reduce the number of pollutants that are harmful to the environment. 

The MOT lift or ramp as it’s sometimes called allows the MOT tester to raise the vehicle from the floor to allow them to see under the vehicle to check joints, bushes and the exhaust system etc.

What Classes of M.O.T. Bay are there?

The class of MOT Bay depends on the type of vehicles your garage intend to work on, as per the gov.uk website, as shown in the table below.

Vehicle Vehicle class Age first MOT needed (years)
Motorcycle (engine size up to 200cc) 1 3
Motorcycle with sidecar (engine size up to 200cc) 1 3
Motorcycle (engine size over 200cc) 2 3
Motorcycle with sidecar (engine size over 200cc) 2 3
3-wheeled vehicles (up to 450kg unladen weight) 3 3
3-wheeled vehicles (over 450kg unladen weight) 4 3
Cars (up to 8 passenger seats) 4 3
Motor caravans 4 3
Quads (max unladen weight 400kg – for goods vehicles 550kg and max net power of 15kw) 4 3
Dual purpose vehicles 4 3
Private hire and public service vehicles (up to 8 seats) 4 3
Ambulances and taxis 4 1
Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (9 to 12 passenger seats) 4 1
Goods vehicles (up to 3,000kg design gross weight) 4 3
Class 4 vehicles (9 to 12 passenger seats) with a seat belt installation check 4a n/a
Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (13 to 16 passenger seats) 5 1
Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (more than 16 passenger seats) 5 1
Playbuses 5 1
Class 5 vehicles (13 to 16 passenger seats) with a seatbelt installation check 5a n/a
Class 5 vehicles (more than 16 passenger seats) with a seatbelt installation check 5a n/a
Goods vehicles (over 3,000kg up to 3,500kg design gross weight) 7 3

What are the different M.O.T. Class Requirements?

To carry out MOT tests on motorcycles in the UK, you need to have an approved Class 1 & 2 Motorcycle M.O.T. Bay.

To carry out MOT tests on cars and other Class 4 vehicles in the UK, you need to have an approved Class 4 M.O.T. Bay.

To carry out MOT tests on vans, trucks and other Class 7 commercial goods vehicles in the UK, requires an approved Class 7 M.O.T. Bay.

What is Required to Run an M.O.T. Testing Centre?

Running an M.O.T. testing centre in the UK involves meeting several legal requirements and obtaining the necessary certifications. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) previously oversaw this process, but it is now managed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Here are the key elements required to set up and operate an M.O.T. testing centre:

Premises and Facilities

Before becoming an approved M.O.T. testing centre, you must have suitable premises and facilities that comply with the DVSA’s standards. The location should be easily accessible to the public, with sufficient space to accommodate the testing bays, waiting areas, and administrative offices. The bays must be well-lit and equipped with the necessary tools and equipment, including brake testers, emissions analysers, and headlamp alignment devices.

Qualified Personnel

Having qualified garage mechanics is a vital aspect of running an M.O.T. testing centre. You will need authorised testers (formerly known as nominated testers) who possess the appropriate qualifications and experience. These testers must undergo regular training and assessments to maintain their authorisation. Additionally, administrative staff may be needed to manage appointments, documentation, and customer service.

Technical Requirements

Your M.O.T. testing centre must comply with the technical requirements specified by the DVSA. This includes having a robust IT system for recording test results and reporting to the DVSA, as well as complying with environmental regulations related to emissions testing.

DVSA Approval and Compliance

To operate legally, you must apply for approval from the DVSA to become an authorised M.O.T. testing centre – the official application for this is called a VT01 form. The DVSA will inspect your premises and equipment to ensure they meet the required standards. Regular inspections will be conducted to ensure ongoing compliance with regulations.


Having adequate insurance coverage is essential for an M.O.T. testing centre. This includes public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance to protect your business from any potential claims or damages.

How to Get Started

If you are interested in starting an M.O.T. testing centre in the UK, follow these steps to get started:

Research and Training

Begin by researching the industry, understanding the legal requirements, and seeking out training opportunities for yourself and your potential testers. Courses are available to become an authorised tester, so ensure you and your team receive the necessary training.

Location and Premises

Choose a suitable location for your M.O.T. testing centre. Consider factors such as accessibility, competition in the area, and the demand for M.O.T. services. Secure premises that meet the DVSA’s requirements and can accommodate the testing bays and facilities.

Financing and Business Plan

Create a comprehensive business plan that outlines your business objectives, projected finances, and marketing strategies. Secure the necessary funding to set up and run your M.O.T. testing centre, taking into account potential income vs the costs of equipment, premises, and personnel, as well as any other expenditure.

Apply for DVSA Approval

Submit an application for DVSA approval, detailing your business plan, qualifications, and compliance with regulations. Await inspection and approval from the DVSA before commencing operations.

Launch and Promote Your Business

Once you have obtained DVSA approval and set up your M.O.T. testing centre, launch your business and promote it to the local community and potential customers. Utilise digital marketing including your own website, traditional advertising, and word-of-mouth to attract vehicle owners to your new M.O.T testing centre.

Specialists in MOT Bays and Equipment

An M.O.T. bay is a vital component of the UK’s vehicle safety and emissions testing system. Running an M.O.T. testing centre requires meeting strict legal requirements, having qualified personnel, and obtaining DVSA approval.

With years of experience in the Garage and MOT industry, Concept Garage Equipment are experts you can rely on to discuss your MOT Bay requirements, we can help to design, supply and fit all MOT Bay equipment and tools to get your MOT testing station up and running, and giving your business a return on investment

To design your MOT Bay Packages or to discuss your MOT Bay needs please call us today on 0113 469 0572.

MOT Bays supplied and fitted by Concept Garage Equipment
MOT Bays supplied and fitted by Concept Garage Equipment