It's your job to keep your vehicle in CoF condition at all times. For example, while the tyres on your vehicle may pass on the day of your certificate inspection, you'll need to replace them as soon as the tread gets to the minimum depth. If you wait until the next inspection you run the risk of receiving a fine.
Where to go for CoF inspections
Certificate of fitness inspections can only be carried out by an inspecting organisation that has been approved by the Transport Agency.
Click here for map that shows you where you can go to get a CoF inspection
It's illegal to drive a vehicle...
- If it doesn't meet CoF requirements.
- If it doesn't display a current CoF label.
You can drive your vehicle on the road under these circumstances only when taking it somewhere for repair or to get a new CoF - and it's safe to do so.
What a CoF inspection covers
The CoF inspection is a general safety check, similar to that of a WoF. Approved testing station inspectors check the aspects set out in our vehicle inspection requirements manual (VIRM) including:
- tyre condition (including tread depth).
- brake condition and operation (PDF, 1 MB, 2 pages)
- structural condition (rust is not allowed in certain areas)
- towing connection condition and certification
- load restraints such as load anchorages, log bolsters, or curtain systems for condition and applicable certification
- certificate of loading (display and validity)
- transport service licence number (if required)
- lights (are all bulbs working? do lights comply?)
- glazing (is your windscreen safe?)
- windscreen washers and wipers
- doors (do they open and close safely?)
- safety belts (must not be faded or damaged; buckles must work properly)
- airbags (if fitted)
- speedometer (must be working)
- steering and suspension (must be safe and secure)
- exhaust (there must be no leaks and the exhaust must not be smoky or louder than the original exhaust system)
- fuel system (there must be no leaks).
If your vehicle is required to operate under a transport service licence (eg goods vehicles 6000kg or over, vehicle recovery vehicles or large passenger vehicles) then you must provide your transport service licence number to the inspector before the CoF will be granted. See Factsheet 47: Transport service licences for more information about who requires a transport service licence.
What a CoF is not
A CoF is not a pre-purchase inspection. It doesn't include many areas of a vehicle's condition. For example it doesn't check:
- engine, clutch, gearbox and differential
- lubricant levels and condition
- brake pad lining (unless visible) or life expectancy
- paint work condition and rust in non-structural areas.
Other vehicle requirements
As well as six-monthly CoF inspections you need:
- a certificate of loading. This states the various required weight ratings, such as axle and tyre ratings; and the maximum number of passengers for passenger service vehicles. It's usually on the front windscreen or in the cab
- a road user charges licence for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes (3500kg) or if powered by diesel or another fuel not taxed when sold
- an approved hubodometer for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes (3500kg).
Your vehicle also must pass ‘walk-round' condition checks - the categorisation of defects tests that we or the Police carry out during audits and roadside/weigh station inspections. Any defects identified during these tests can result in you receiving an instruction to repair the vehicle or to park it up. If the defect is serious you may receive a non-operation order issued as a green or red sticker.
Drivers and operators of freight and passenger transport services may also need to hold a transport service licence. Find out more.
If your vehicle passes its CoF inspection, the inspector will apply the CoF label on the inside of your front windscreen, on the driver's side. The number on the centre of the label shows the month your certificate expires. This is on the front of the label - the actual date your certificate expires is written on the back of the label.
You need to get your next certificate before the expiry date on the label.
Your CoF starts from the date your vehicle passes inspection and expires six months later. If the inspection is completed a few days before the label expiry date, we may extend the new expiry date (up to 28 days) to equal the number of days left on your old CoF.
When your vehicle fails its CoF inspection
If your vehicle fails a CoF inspection you cannot drive it on the road unless you're taking it somewhere to get it repaired or get a new CoF - and it's safe to do so.