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National Car Test

National Car Test

Compulsory car testing was introduced in Ireland in January 2000 as part of an EU Directive that makes car testing compulsory in all member states. It is an offence to drive a car that is liable for testing without displaying a National Car Testing Service disc and offenders will face fines.

The test is called the National Car Test and is carried out on behalf of the Government by the National Car Testing Service Ltd (NCTS). The NCTS is independent of the garage and motor trades and doesn't benefit if your car passes or fails. The test is aimed at improving road safety and enhancing environmental protection.

What the National Car Test Covers

The test covers among other things: brakes; exhaust emission; wheels and tyres; lights; steering and suspension; chassis and underbody; electrical systems; glass and mirrors; transmission; interior and fuel system.

Minor things such as broken windscreen wipers, wing mirrors or indicators will fail you just as easily as high emission levels, faulty steering or bad brakes. The single largest categories for car failures are problems with headlights, emissions and brakes. A pass certificate or a failure report is issued after the test and if the car fails, the report explains why and what needs to be done.

National Car Test Rules

Since 2002, all cars 4 years and over are tested. Vehicles that pass the test have to undergo repeat tests every 2 years. You must also bring your vehicle registration book or registration certificate with you to the test centre.

Further Information about the National Car Test

For further information about the National Car Test including exemptions, appealing results, rates, lost certificates, etc., please visit and go to the Transport section, or

The NCTS recommends that you prepare for the test by ensuring that:

  • Your car has adequate oil and water
  • The boot is empty and seats are clear of personal belongings such as removable baby seats
  • The vehicle is reasonably clean (especially the underbody)
  • The wheel hubcaps are removed and the tyres are inflated to the correct pressure
  • Seat belts and clips are fully visible
  • Your vehicle registration plates comply with current regulations
  • The timing belt has been replaced in the case of a diesel vehicle, i.e., within the timeframe specified by the vehicle manufacturer
  • NCT recommend you have your lights checked and set prior to the test.

If you do get your car serviced, the NCTS advises that special attention is paid to the most common failure points:

  • Headlights: alignment and condition
  • Brakes: front, rear and hand brake
  • Exhaust emissions: in most cases a slight tuning of the engine is sufficient.

How to apply

NCTS will contact owners of eligible vehicles (based on official vehicle registration records) of the date of their NCT test. NCTS may offer you a provisional appointment at a nearby test centre or invite you to arrange your own NCT appointment. If the provisional appointment suits you or if you wish to re-arrange the time, date or test centre you must contact NCTS.

When you get your notification letter, you must contact NCTS to confirm, rearrange or cancel your booking. After you contact NCTS confirming or re-arranging your provisional appointment, you will receive a 'Confirmation of Appointment' letter. Confirm, cancel or rearrange your booking online here.

If the NCTS have not heard from you 14 days before the provisional appointment date, your test will be cancelled automatically and made available to other customers.
You may cancel or re-arrange your confirmed appointment by giving five working days notice (Mon-Fri). If you cancel or re-arrange your appointment giving less than 5 days notice (Mon-Fri), you will be charged an additional fee.

Where to apply

Applications by post should be sent to the address below. It is now possible to book, confirm, cancel your test interactively online. Enquiries about the test can be forwarded to

The Booking Department,
National Car Testing Service (NCTS) Ltd.,
Citywest Business Campus,
Lakedrive 3026,
Naas Road,
Dublin 24.
Tel: (1890) 200 670
Fax: (01) 413 5996


Telephone Bookings:
LoCall: (1890) 412 413 (8 am to 8 pm, Mon-Thurs, 8 am - 6 p m Fri)
Fax Bookings: (01) 413 5982.