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Declaring A Vehicle of Historic Interest

Ask Footman James: Declaring A Vehicle of Historic Interest

You may be under the impression that once your vehicle has had its 40th birthday, an annual MoT is no longer a legal requirement and you’d be perfectly correct. But it does not happen automatically. You must first register your classic as a Vehicle of Historic Interest to prove that it’s exempt.

Making A Declaration

To let the DVLA know that your classic is now exempt from an MoT, you must declare it as a Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI). To do this, you will need to pick up a V112 declaration form from your local Post Office and return.

However, there are certain exemptions to these new MoT rules and the responsibility lies firmly with the owner to ensure the vehicle meets the criteria for a VHI.

Exemptions to VHIs

Your classic will still need an MoT if:

  1. It has been substantially changed in the last 30 years. If you’re not sure if your vehicle has been substantially changed, then you cannot declare it as a VHI.
  2. It’s a bus used as a public service vehicle, or commercially used vehicle with eight or more seats registered before 1960
  3. It has been issued a registration with a ‘Q’ prefix that infers it has an unknown registration date.
  4. It’s a kit car assembled from components of different makes and models.
  5. It’s a reconstructed classic vehicle as defined by the DVLA
  6. It’s a kit conversion car where new parts have been added to an existing vehicle or older car parts added onto the kit of a manufactured body, chassis or monocoque bodyshell.

If your vehicle meets any of the criteria above, you cannot declare your classic as a VHI.

Substantial Change Guidance

A common question about VHI exemption is ‘what makes a classic substantially changed?’.

For the DVLA, this means that the vehicle must have changes considerably from the original specification of the car. If the technical characteristics of the main components have changed in the past 30 years, then you cannot declare your vehicle as a VHI.

Key changes affecting exemption include:

  • Changing the engine

(Except if it’s the same basic engine with alternative cubic capacities)

  • Changing the chassis or monocoque bodyshell, including subframes.

(Except of it’s a replacement of the same pattern as the original)

  • Changing the axles or running gear

(Only if the type or method of suspension or steering is altered)

Acceptable modifications include:

  • Using different parts when the original type parts are no longer reasonably available
  • Changing the axles or running gear when it has been done to improve efficiency, safety or environmental performance
  • Tyre changes that took place during the time the model was in production or within 10 years of the production ceasing
  • Changes made to commercial vehicles at a time then they were used commercially


Another common question around MoT exemption is ‘how will it affect my insurance’? Despite the change in MoT exemption, what hasn’t changed is the legal responsibility of all owners to ensure that their vehicle is safe and fit for purpose when taking it out on a public highway.

In the terms and conditions of any insurance policy, there will be a clause which states that the vehicle must be maintained in a roadworthy condition. In the event of an accident that leads to a subsequent claim, the vehicle will be inspected by an engineer. During this inspection, the engineer will advise whether the incident in question was caused due to unsatisfactory maintenance of the vehicle or not.

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