National Car Test (NCT)




National Car Test (RSA)


   Modified Vehicles (RSA)


   Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness reform (RSA)


   Trailer Road Traffic Regulations (RSA)


National Car Test (RSA)  

Important Notices re NCT

Changes to the NCT (from 28th July 2014) The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has introduced a number of customer service enhancements to NCT tests. These new measures help to improve the safety of second-hand cars on our roads and contribute to protecting consumers from fraud.These enhanced safety measures are effective from 28 July 2014:

Customer Survey Optout The Road Safety Authority contacts a sample of customers for the purposes of customer service research . If you do not wish to be contacted to undertake customer service research please send your name and address to: and you will not be included in any future surveys.
Remember to bring ID ! Anybody who is presenting a vehicle for an NCT is required to produce their Driving Licence (or Passport) as a form of identification. Please ensure you bring your Driving Licence (or Passport) with you when presenting a vehicle, otherwise the NCTS may not be able to carry out the test. This is required to prevent fraud and to help facilitate investigations and appeals. All data checking is carried out in accordance with Data Protection requirements.For bookings made at the test centre, only driving licences or a Trade Management Fobwill be accepted from 28th July 2014.
Annual testing of cars 10 years and older Annual testing of cars 10 years and older was introduced on 1 June 2011.  Cars presented for their 10th anniversary or subsequent NCTs will receive a certificate valid for up to one year only.  From 28 July 2014, where a vehicle has already undergone a voluntary early test and the test due date has been reset, if this vehicle passes the test within 90 days of the 10th anniversary of first registration, a certificate valid to the 11th anniversary will be issued, and the test due date will be reset to the anniversary of first registration.There is a need to ensure that older vehicles are frequently maintained and are fit for purpose on our roads. The RSA has prepared a FAQ document(PDF) to assist with any queries in relation to testing of cars 10 years and older.
Whistleblowing The NCTS is committed to providing the service to the highest standards in customer service, quality and test integrity. Integrity is an important element of the National Car Test. If you feel the integrity of the service has been compromised in any way and would like to speak with someone in confidence; you can do so either by phone or email on the following:Email :

Phone : 01 630 9319

The National Car Testing Service is operated by Applus + on behalf of the Road Safety Authority

What is the NCT?

Introduced in 2000, the National Car Test (NCT) is a preventative road safety measure that ensures vehicles, particularly older vehicles, using Irish roads are in sound working order.

All member states of the European Union are required to test the roadworthiness of motor vehicles. In Ireland, the testing system is run by the National Car Testing Service (NCTS). A total of 1,170,899 cars were tested by NCTS in 2013 and 48.1% passed the test first time.

An NCT certificate confirms that the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition at the time the test was conducted and the expiry date on the certificate indicates the last date before the next test is due for the vehicle. Further information on the duration of an NCT certificate can be found in our information note (PDF).The owner has the statutory duty to ensure that his/her vehicle remains in a satisfactory roadworthiness condition and complies with the relevant provisions of the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 1963-2006 at all times when it is used in a public place.

Test Frequency

Age of Vehicle Test frequency
0-3 years No test required
4-9 years Every two years
10 years plus (10th anniversary) Annually, from June 2011
Cars registered before 1.1.1980 No test required

Booking an NCT

There are 47 NCT test centres located throughout Ireland established solely for the purposes of car testing. Find the centre that is most convenient to you.

From July 28, 2014, car owners and members of the motor trade will be able to book an NCT test at any point prior to their next mandatory test. Previously, NCT tests could only be booked within 90 days of a vehicle’s test due date or 180 days in the case of a first NCT. From 28 July 2014, any test undertaken more than 90 days in advance of the test due date will be a voluntary early test and the test due date will be reset to the one or two year anniversary of the successful test (depending on the age of the vehicle).

Booking options

When your car is due to be tested, you must book with the NCTS: they will then send you an SMS, email or letter with details of your test appointment.

You may book your NCT by any if the following methods


Phone: 01 4135992 from 8am to 8pm (Mon-Thurs) and 8am to 6pm (Fri)


Fax bookings: (01) 413-5982 (please remember to quote your booking ID and telephone number, if available).

Postal bookings:

The Booking Department, National Car Testing Service Ltd, Citywest Business Campus, Lake Drive 3026, Naas Road, Dublin 24

If writing, please remember to quote your booking ID and telephone number, if available.


The car test fee is €55 (inclusive of VAT). NCTS will accept cash, debit cards and all major credit cards (excluding American Express).

The fee for a re test is €28 if the use of a test lane is required. A re-test that doesn’t require the use of a test lane or requires the use of test equipment for the purposes of carrying out an inspection of tyres only is free of charge.

Note: If you wish to cancel or rearrange a test you must give the NCTS five working days’ notice (not including the day of the test). If you give less notice than this a €22 surcharge (€11.50 in the case of a retest) will beapplied. From July 28, 2014 customers who repeatedly fail to present their vehicle for testing, without giving the required notice, will be presented with a €22 surcharge (€11.50 for a re-test) on each occasion that an appointment is missed.

Any queries relating to the cancellation fee may be made in writing to the Customer Service Department, National Car Testing Service, Lake Drive 3026, Citywest Business Campus, Naas Road, Dublin 24.

What the test examines

During the NCT, specific items are checked and tested. These include:

  • Brakes
  • Exhaust emissions
  • Wheels and tyres
  • Lights
  • Steering and suspension
  • Chassis and underbody
  • Electrical systems
  • Glass and mirrors
  • Transmission
  • Interior
  • Fuel system

You can view a full list of the items which are covered in the National Car Test in the newly revised National Car Test (NCT) Manual 2014 (PDF).

Note: the tests undertaken by the NCT evolve over time as industry safety technologies improve and new safety concerns arise. A number of new test items were introduced in April 2010, January 2012 and July 2014.

Benefits of testing

  • Safer, more reliable cars
  • Longer vehicle service life
  • Reduced fuel consumption
  • Reduced air and noise pollution
  • Avoidance of penalty points. Since 1 May 2009, you can receive penalty points for not having a valid NCT.

Pass rates & Statistics

When testing was first introduced, less than 4% of vehicles passed at the first attempt compared to over 76% in 2012 for cars that are four years old. This figure falls to around 50% for eight-year-old cars and 40% for vehicles of nine years old. View the full report of NCT results for 2007 to 2013 (PDF) 

Main Fail Items

The top five fail items in 2013 are as follows:

  1. Front Suspension
  2. Tyre Condition
  3. Brake Line/Hoses
  4. Stop Lamps
  5. Steering linkage

Fail Dangerous

Where a vehicle has a dangerous defect i.e. a defect that constitutes a direct and immediate risk to road safety such that the vehicle should not be used on the road under any circumstances, the NCT vehicle inspector will issue a Failed Dangerous result.

It is an offence to drive a dangerously defective vehicle on the public road.  The penalty for such an offence is a fine of up to €2,500 and 5 penalty points on conviction and/or 3 months imprisonment, (Offence under Section 54 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 and related amendments).

When the result is Failed Dangerous the NCT vehicle inspector will advise you as follows:

  • Of the existence, extent and nature of the defect.
  • That if you drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place while there is a defect affecting the vehicle which you know of or could have discovered by the exercise of ordinary care and which is such that the vehicle is, when in motion, a danger to the public, you shall be guilty of an offence.
  • That in the opinion of NCTS the vehicle is dangerous.
  • That you must make arrangements to have the vehicle removed from the test centre.

A sticker stating “Failed Dangerous” will be attached to the vehicle and the vehicle inspector will issue you with a statement regarding requirements for vehicles with a failed dangerous result.


All re-tests must be booked within 21 days of the initial test.  The fee for a re-test is €28 if the use of a test lane is required. A re-test that doesn’t require the use of a test lane or requires the use of test equipment for the purposes of carrying out an inspection of tyres only is free of charge, e.g. where minor visual items are concerned, such as replacement of windscreen wiper and registration plates.

Re-tests must be completed within 30 days of the initial test or a full test will need to be repeated and charged accordingly.

From July 28, 2014, customers who fail to present their vehicle for a retest appointment, without giving prior notice, will be issued with an €11.50 cancellation fee on each occasion that a retest is missed. Previously, a single €11.50 cancellation fee for a retest was applied if one or more tests were missed. Owners who repeatedly book and then fail to show up to tests, without giving prior notice, prevent others from booking tests at times that are convenient to them.

New NCT Regulations

Legislation governing the mandatory testing of cars has been consolidated into The Road Traffic (National Car Test) Regulations 2014, S.I. 322 of 2014 (PDF).

Previous regulations; specifically, The Road Traffic (National Car Test) Regulations 2009 (S. I. No. 567 of 2009), and various amendments in SIs 623/2011, 711/2011, 103/2012, 104/2012, 10/2013 and 303/2013 have been revoked.


Modified Vehicles (RSA)
Vehicles can be modified for various reasons – some vehicles are modified even before they are registered. For example, someone can convert a four-wheel drive passenger vehicle into a commercial vehicle by removing the back seats and safety belts. Work on a vehicle which affects the safety and/or handling of a vehicle e.g. brakes, steering, suspension etc. must be to a minimum standard and comply with the law.

Other modifications are cosmetic – to personalise a car and make it different to others of its type. Common ones include rear spoilers and side trim, adapted exhausts and tinted windows.

Section 62 of the NCT Manual 2014 (PDF) deals with vehicle modifications .  This provides more guidance on the modifications which require a modifications report. The format of the modifications report is available here.

For more information on vehicle modifications, please see our Registration and Motor Tax webpage or alternatively the vehicle conversion section of Revenue Commissioner’s website or the Motor Tax RF111 Change of Particulars Form (PDF).

Window Tinting

Excessively tinted windscreens or front side windows present a significant safety hazard for vehicle drivers and their occupants.  Visibility is greatly reduced, particularly for night time driving and at times of low light.  There are also enforcement issues for An Garda Síochána in regard to driver recognition, the detection of driving offences e.g. holding a mobile phone while driving, and other criminal activity.

If the NCT vehicle inspector deems that the windscreen or front side windows are excessively tinted the level of light transmission of the window will be tested.  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 NCT test.   Tinting of these windows must not be greater than 35%.Unfortunately the National Car Testing Regulations do not allow for any exemptions in this regard.

Tint films tend to be quite easily removed and replaceable with a compliant film which would block UVA light and meet the requirement of not less than 65% light transmission.  There is no limit on the tint level in the rear window and rear side windows.

Vehicle Exhaust Noise

Vehicles are required to have a level of noise no greater than 99dB(A) in order to pass the test to ensure that vehicles comply with acceptable noise levels. An Garda Síochána currently use sound measurement equipment at roadside enforcement checkpoints throughout the country. The penalty on conviction is a fine which, depending if there have been previous similar convictions, may not exceed €2,000 and/or, at the discretion of the court, imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.

Enforcement of Road Traffic legislation is a matter for An Garda Síochána.

Customers should also ensure that their vehicle registration documents match the vehicle as this will be checked against the vehicle file.


Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness reform (RSA)
The RSA is now responsible for the overall supervision of the Commercial vehicle roadworthiness testing system. This is part of the overall implementation of the Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness (CVR) reform program.

For all information relating to Commercial Vehicle Testing please go to

Existing Testers seeking to renew their authorisation, please visit the Authorisation of CVR Testers page.


Trailer Road Traffic Regulations (RSA)
Trailer Road Traffic Regulations

All trailers must meet with Irish Road Traffic Regulations when in use in a public place. These regulations set out the law in relation to weights, lights, brakes, plating, under-run, side-guards, securing of loads, etc.

In-use regulations

There are three main legal instruments regulating trailers in Ireland currently:

  • the Road Traffic (Construction and Use of Vehicles) Regulations (or C&U Regulations) outline the maximum weights and dimensions for trailers
  • the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations (or CE&U Regulations) outline the braking and other requirements for trailers
  • the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations (or Lighting Regulations) outline the lighting requirements for trailers

These regulations have been substantially amended since drafting and copies of the original instruments, along with detailed lists of amendments to date are available on our standards for vehicles and trailers in use section.

If you’re operating a trailer, make sure you understand your in-use requirements.

Furthermore, individuals engaged in the supply of trailers also have a legal responsibility to ensure that trailers and their components comply with all applicable requirements set out in Road Traffic legislation.

Trailer Type Approval – from 29th October 2012
For safety, environmental, and trade reasons, the EU has set common construction standards for motor vehicles and trailers. Any trailer that has been approved to these standards can be first licensed in the State in the case of heavy goods trailers, or sold in the case of light trailers.  From October 29th 2012 onwards, trailers must comply with these standards, known as European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA), whereby tests are carried out on a representative trailer, and subsequent trailers manufactured are issued with approval certification from the manufacturer in order to allow them to enter into service.

There are also new national schemes to approve trailers: both those manufactured in low volume in Ireland, and for trailers manufactured or imported individually. The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) is the Irish appointed approval authority and is responsible for issuing National Approvals for trailers in Ireland. NSAI has established a network of Appointed Test Centre’s (ATC’s) who physically examine and issue test reports for some or all of the technical requirements. These test reports are then used by NSAI to grant the trailer approvals.

Information Notes have been prepared for light trailers and heavy trailers in order to provide further clarification on the system of type approval applicable to these vehicles from  the 29th of October 2012 onwards.

However, irrespective of type approval or national approval requirements, once trailers are in use on the public road, they must meet the requirements laid out in the ‘C&U’ ‘CE&U’, and ‘Lighting Regulations’ outlined above