Changes to NCT – National Car Test


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The Minister for Transport, Mr. Noel Dempsey TD has announced changes to the National Car Test in 2010 and 2011.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has contracted Applus+ to take over the provision of the National Car Testing Service from 2010 to 2019.  Applus+ will take over testing on January 4th in 46 NCT centres that employ 550 people throughout the country.

Changes are also being introduced to improve the quality of the service. Specifically, two new NCT centres are being opened and in the interests of road safety, new testing items are being introduced in 2010 and 2011, following a public consultation process by the RSA in 2009.

The changes include measures such as;

Additional tests for lighting,
Window clarity (level of tinting)
Exhaust noise levels and tyre quality assurance markings
Measures to deal with dangerously defective vehicles, and
(From June 2011) the annual testing of vehicles over 10 years old.

Commenting on the changes the Minister said, “The new test items will improve the safety of vehicles on our roads, both for the vehicle owners and for other road users.  This is another incremental step in our road safety agenda, to make our roads safer and to save lives and prevent injuries.”

“I am also delighted that two new test centres are being opened in the new year, one in Carndonagh on the Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal and another at Greenhills, Tallaght, Dublin. The opening of these centres will enable people living in these areas get access to NCT services, within their local community, without the inconvenience of having to travel great distances. They will also support local employment in these areas.”


1.      The RSA has responsibility for the national car test, which it arranges through contract.  See RSA website

2.      The content of the national car test is set in Regulations, made by the Minister on the basis of recommendations made by the RSA

3.      Copies of the new Road Traffic (National Car Test) Regulations 2009 and Road Traffic (Display of Test Disc) Regulations 2009 will be published on the Department’s website at soon.

At present, cars in Ireland are subject to periodic testing on reaching the 4th anniversary of their first registration and every 2 years thereafter.  A total of 833,357 cars were tested in 2008.  The car testing on-line service is

The NCT is a key contributor to the roadworthiness of vehicles and also is an important preventative road safety measure that ensures vehicles (particularly older vehicles) using Irish roads are in sound working order.

6.      Vehicle owners who do not get their vehicle tested through the NCT as required can put themselves and others at risk by driving vehicles that may be dangerously defective, for example with poor brakes, worn suspension, worn tyres, or defective lighting.

7.      Failure to have a current NCT Certificate is an offence under Section 18 of the Road Traffic Act 1961.    Conviction for this offence carries 5 penalty points and Courts may impose a fine of up to €2000 and/or up to three months imprisonment. 

Testing of passenger cars in Ireland has been provided by National Car Testing Service Ltd. (wholly owned by SGS Ireland Ltd.) since January 2000.  This contract expires at the end of 2009. The RSA has awarded the contract for the provision of the National Car Testing Service to Applus+ who will take over testing on January 4.  RSA has advised that that there may be some disruption to the online service over the Christmas period while the changeover to the new contractor takes place, but every effort will be made to keep any interruption to a minimum.

9.      Applus+ is a leading multinational company in testing, inspection, certification and technological services. It is present in all 5 continents and provides services in more than 25 economic sectors. In the field of vehicle inspection, Applus+ is the world’s second largest operator. In 2009 the company will perform more than 17 million inspections in Spain, Denmark, Finland, the U.S.A. and Latin America, with a total of 2,200 employees devoted to this activity.

Main Changes to the NCT with effect from January 4th 2010:

10. Dangerous Vehicle
·        New arrangements will apply when it is considered that a tested vehicle would be a danger to the public if driven.  In such a case a “Fail Dangerous” notice will be affixed, and An Garda Siochana will be notified if the owner/presenter drives the vehicle from the centre.  The use of a dangerously defective vehicle on a public road is an offence for which the driver and owner could be prosecuted with a fine of up to €2,000 and 5 penalty points on conviction and/or 3 months imprisonment.

11. Vehicle Registration/Licensing Certificate
·        The details of the Vehicle Registration/Licensing Certificate which must be presented at NCT will be compared to the vehicle.  Any discrepancies will be notified to the owner/presenter and Vehicle Registration Unit.  Even if the vehicle passes all other aspects of the test, a test certificate will not be issued until the discrepancies are corrected.

12. Cars over 30 years old
·        At present vehicles over 30 years old are exempt.  From now on vehicles registered prior to 1 January 1980 will not be liable to testing.  In this way older vehicles will be brought into the testing system year on year.

13. Requirement for Identification
·        The owner/presenter of the vehicle will be required to produce a driving licence or passport, and, if relevant, details of the garage/company on behalf of which the vehicle is presented.

Main Changes to the NCT with effect from April 1st 2010:

14. Clarity of windscreen and front side windows
·        Excessively tinted windscreens or front side windows present a significant safety hazard for drivers and their occupants. The glass in the windscreen and front side windows will be required to have a light transmission level of not less than 65% in order to pass the test.

15. Rear fog lamp
·        Rear fog lamps enhance the visibility of a car in foggy conditions by indicating the vehicle’s position and direction of travel to other road users. The rear fog lamp, where fitted, will be checked to ensure that when in use it provides a red light which is clearly visible.

16. Reverse lamp
·        The reverse lamp of a vehicle provides illumination to the rear when backing up, and warns nearby drivers and pedestrians of a vehicle’s backward motion. The reverse lamp, where fitted, will be checked to ensure that when in use it provides a white light which is clearly visible.

17. Tyres
·        Car tyres are the only point of contact between a vehicle and the road. The standards to which tyres are designed and built, is critical to ensuring adequate grip is maintained with the road surface. An “E” or “e” mark indicates that the tyre is certified to comply with international regulations. A vehicle will fail if an “E” or “e” mark is not visible.

18. Malfunction indicators for Airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems and Electronic Braking Systems (EBS) / Anti-Lock Brake system (ABS).
·        Today’s cars are fitted with a number of warning lamps on a dashboard that let the driver know if certain critical safety, performance and environmental features are not working properly. They are important safety features and it is in the interest of the driver and road safety that all safety systems in the vehicle are in full working order. Vehicles will be checked to ensure that, where fitted, the malfunction indicators for Airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems and Electronic Braking Systems (EBS) / Anti-Lock Brake system (ABS) are in correct working order.  The vehicle will fail if a malfunction indicator is not working or indicates a defect in the system.

19. Rear registration plate lamp
·        Rear registration plate lamps provide essential illumination to the registration plate of a vehicle once parking lights are activated. The reverse lamp, where fitted, will be checked to ensure that when in use it provides a white light which is clearly visible. If it is not in proper working order a “Fail Advisory” will result i.e. it is strongly recommended that the fault be repaired but a failed test will not result because of this fault alone;

20. Vehicle exhaust noise
·        The nuisance caused by excessive noise from vehicle exhausts is regularly the subject of comments and complaints.  Examination of a cars exhaust silencer, and its effectiveness at reducing noise is part of the current NCT.  It is proposed to implement a noise check of vehicles that the vehicle inspector deems to be excessively noisy.  The vehicle will be required to have a level of noise no greater than 99db in order to pass the test.

Changes to the NCT with effect from June 2011:
21. Annual testing of vehicles over 10 years old
·        At present two thirds of cars aged 10 years and older presented for a test do not pass first time. These older vehicles are more likely to be involved in a collision. Almost half (47%) of collisions that occurred in 2007 involved vehicles that were 9 years old or more.  From 1 June 2011 annual testing of cars over 10 years old will commence.  Cars over 10 years old will be issued an annual certificate after this date.

Taxi Suitability Testing
A new provider is taking over the provision of taxi suitability testing and the issuing of taxi suitability certificates from 4 January 2010.  This service will no longer be available at NCT.  The Commission for Taxi Regulation is working with the industry in relation to the new arrangements.