The National Car Test is a compulsory car test carried out on behalf of the government to ensure that all cars meet the standards of road safety and environmental protection. The test is carried out by National Car Testing Service Ltd (NCTS) who are independent of the garage and motor trades and do not benefit if your car passes or fails.
The NCT is carried out every two years on all cars in Ireland that are over 4 years old. All cars taxed as vintage and cars permanently based on Islands not connected to mainland by road will not have to be tested.
If your car passes the NCT the certificate will be valid for up to 2 years (from the date the test is due to the registration anniversary date two years later). An NCT "disc" is issued which must be displayed along with your tax and insurance discs in the car windscreen.
Remember it is an offence to drive a car that is liable for testing without a National Car Test.
All eligible cars must be tested before the anniversary date of first registration of the car in the country of origin. There is no link with motor tax or insurance expiry date.
NCTS can issue your certificate up to six months early for a first time NCT and three months early for any successive NCT tests. In other words, if your car was first registered in July and it is due for its first NCT, you can have it tested up to 6 months early in January and your certificate will still expire on the anniversary of registration 2 years later. Your certificate is then valid for 2 years and 6 months.
The NCTS will contact owners of eligible vehicles in advance of the anniversary date of the first registration of your car and you will be offered a provisional appointment for the test which you must confirm or rearrange. If you are unsure as to whether or not your car needs an NCT you should contact the NCTS. Owners of car that have been off the road or have not been taxed for over three years must contact the NCTS directly themselves as they will not be notified when their test is due.
If you do get your car serviced, the NCTS advises that special attention is paid to the most common failure points which are:
Don't forget to bring your vehicle registration book, registration certificate or licensing certificate and your test fee.
You will need to book a re-test within 21 days of the initial test. Those re-tests that do not need the use of a test lane are free of charge and cover minor visual items such as replacement of registration plates and windscreen wipers. If the re-test is not completed within 30 days of the initial test a full test will need to be repeated.
The National Car Test (NCT) Manual detailing the test standards has been published by The Department of Transport and is available from the Government Publications Sales Office.
The car test fee is €49.00 and a re-test costs €27.50 (both fees are inclusive of VAT and maybe subject to change). Re-tests, which do not require the use of test equipment, will be free. Free re-tests cover minor items, for example, a visual inspection to check that faulty windscreen wipers have been replaced. NCTS will accept cash, personal cheque, all major credit cards and laser cards.