A certificate of fitness (CoF) is a regular check to ensure that your vehicle meets required safety standards. Vehicles requiring this certification are:
It’s your job to keep your vehicle up to 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 (external link) . If you wait until the next inspection you run the risk of receiving a fine.
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.
Approved testing station inspectors check the aspects set out in our vehicle inspection requirements manual (external link) (VIRM) including:
tyre condition (including tread depth (external link) )
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 [PDF, 244 KB]?)
glazing (is your windscreen safe?)
windscreen washers and wipers
doors (do they open and close safely?)
safety belts (must not be faded or damaged, and buckles must work properly)
airbags (if fitted)
speedometer (must be working)
steering and suspension (must be safe and secure)
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.
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 condition
lubricant levels and condition
brake pad thickness or life expectancy, unless they are visibly below safe limits
paint work condition and some rust in non-structural areas.
As well as regular 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.
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.
Your CoF starts from the date your vehicle passes inspection and expires 3–12 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.
You need to get your next certificate before the expiry date on the label.