Coronavirus: Driving tests to resume from September in NI

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Driving tests were suspended in NI on 20 March due to the coronavirus pandemic

Driving tests are to resume in Northern Ireland from 1 September, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced.

Requests from key workers will be prioritised, followed by people whose tests were cancelled due to lockdown.

Meanwhile, the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) intends to resume further MoT tests from the same date.

On Tuesday, it said it would now be extending MoT services to include four-year-old cars and motorbikes, three-year-old light goods vehicles and heavy goods vehicles, trailers and buses.

These customers will be sent a reminder letter with details of how to book a test.

MoT testing recommenced on 20 July for vehicles that were not able to avail of Temporary Exemption Certificates (TECs).

These included taxis and buses due a first time test; vehicles not previously registered in Northern Ireland; vehicles with MOTs that have expired by more than 12 months, including vehicles previously declared SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) and those sold by car dealerships.

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Nichola Mallon said she "recognises frustrations" that many people have been unable to take driving tests during lockdown

Driver theory tests also resumed on 6 July 2020.

In a statement, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon welcomed the resumption of practical driving tests.

"I very much recognise the frustrations of those customers not able to take driving tests during this time and the inconvenience this has caused," she said.

"I am pleased to announce that the DVA plans to resume car and lorry driving tests from 1 September, initially prioritising over 200 key workers and then those customers who have had tests cancelled to ensure they are not further inconvenienced, with the priority of keeping staff and customers safe."

She said that it was likely that initial waiting times for driving tests would be longer than usual.

The DVA has already reinstated some driver testing services for those licence categories "where testing can be done safely in line with Public Health Agency advice and guidance on social distancing requirements".

This included motorcycle rider testing from 6 July, and tests for drivers of buses, tractors and module 4 CPC tests for lorry, bus and coach driver from 20 July.

'Significant demand'

Ms Mallon announced amendments to driving licence regulations that will allow an eight month extension to the validity of theory test pass certificates, which expire between 1 March and 31 October 2020.

There will also be a six month extension to the validity of off-road motorcycle test pass certificates, which expire between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020.