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The Great V5 Debate

This is a discussion for the topic The Great V5 Debate on the board Beach Buggy General Help.

Author Topic: The Great V5 Debate  (Read 32783 times)

this user is offline Dave DND

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on: March 02, 2013, 04:34:54 PM
In recent times, the Vehicle Registration document known as the V5 has caused a few issues for us in the Buggy Community. There have been many stories, many myths, and not a great deal of anything that is actually useful. Many of you who are new to the scene, may or may not be aware of the problems, and because the subject is so “fluid” at the moment, we regret that we are able to give any clear or concise advice. But before you think we are all doomed, please have a read of this, as its more about understanding the rules. If we know the rules, we can stick by them, and everybody will be happy.

Unfortunately, Big Brother does occasionally glance at forums such as this, and I am sad to confirm that at least one community member amongst us has had his vehicle taken off the road as a result of being incorrectly described on their V5.

(Read: A Pilgrims Tale)

For various reasons which may become apparent after reading this, we would rather that his subject was not discussed here on an open / public forum any further, as if we do not discuss this here, then we cannot give any more ammunition that may affect the rest of us – OK?

DND Services ltd accept no liability whatsoever for any loss or consequential loss or action as a result of any discussions on this forum amongst its community members . What follows here is nothing more than our own opinions, and in all cases we would advise that you contact the appropriate authorities for full clarification.

Although we cannot be held legally responsible for what is said here, this is my own understanding of where things are currently at, (and even then it is open to much interpretation !). I will of course keep this updated as any new information comes to light.

In the past (pre 2000 ish) if you wanted to get to get a Buggy registered on the log book as a “Beach Buggy”, it often relied on you retaining a certain number of parts of the original car. It was based on a points scoring system, where original engine = 2 points, original chassis = 2 points and so on. You then filled out a few forms, visited your local DVLA centre for them to check the that the chassis and engine numbers tallied with the log book, and all was well, but for those of you nowadays "wanting" to see the words Beach Buggy on your V5, take a deep breath and think carefully about what you are about to do, as it may not be quite as simple as you think.

At the moment, this is STILL the case with LWB (Long Wheel Base Buggies). The DVLA regard an unmodified chassis as nothing more than a change of a body and it is a relatively straightforward thing to do.

Right – Owners of SWB (Short Wheel Base) Buggies, take a seat.......

Around 2000 the Government bought in the Single Vehicle Assessment (SVA) test for “kit cars” and “one off” built cars. Aimed essentially with safety in mind, it was like a really tough MOT with additional safety elements that needed addressing (such as screen demisting, low level warning lights on brake reservoirs, no sharp protrusions to slice through pedestrians in accidents, etc...) Now a buggy can make it through the SVA, but it is costly and needs  to undergo a lot of modifications - which ironically most people seem to take off once its registered. This test was recently replaced with the even tougher Individual Vehicle Approval  (IVA) test.

Going down either the SVA or IVA route, generally means that the existing registration number is forfeited, and either an age related plate or Q plate is awarded. As a result, the words Beach Buggy, Doon Buggy, GP Buggy, etc, may(!) be assigned, depending on your situation, and what you have asked for.

Now, this is where the edges start to get a little blurred and contradictory. A SWB Buggy obviously involves shortening a chassis, but everything else remains exactly the same (ie: suspension, steering geometry, gearbox mounts etc ). Currently, the DVLA and VOSA are unsure if this now relates to a modified vehicle or a kit vehicle, 2 very different definitions which have very varied outcome in terms of registering cars, as this generally determines the need for SVA/IVA or not?  We were made aware of a conversion by the Manufacturer, Doon. After calling the DVLA for clarification and being replied to with an answer of “ermm...ermmm . ... call VOSA”  and then upon calling VOSA was met with a reply of  “ermmm. ermmm.. . call DVLA”

You should now be starting to get the picture.

Lets, for a moment, jump back to reality. In real life, most folk don't bother too much with all that nonsense as there are much easier and simpler ways to deal with it.

Most of the buggies out there are registered not as Beach Buggies (or similar titles) as such,  but are registered as a whole host of other things, which is why there is such a grey area here. Because the range of vocabulary offered by DVLA was actually quite restricted, the words "Light Utility" and "4x4" are often seen. The most common log book entry is VW Convertible, which is exactly what they are. Most of us have had Buggies for years simply registered as VW and Convertible on the V5, and very few of us have ever had any problems with insurance companies, with road tax, or indeed the Police. Now the “word on the street” as in “not in writing” from the Police Traffic Officers I have spoken with, is that so long as it is taxed and insured, and at least makes a passing resemblance to the V5 details on their PNC database, (which they can check whilst following you) they are content. Most of them are also aware that our cars are VW Beetle derived, but all it takes is a jobsworth by the side of the road watching you through their speed camera to open up that can of worms. So how you drive, and how you draw attention to yourself are probably more key here.

So although not a hard and fast rule, the thing to try to avoid then (if you can), is if the log book says Beetle anywhere on it, as a Buggy is obviously not a Beetle. Things like the wrong colour, wrong engine number, and stuff that we are obliged by law to keep updated, can often be changed by simply sending off the log book to the DVLA for amendment, although they are starting to get a little “wise” and in some instances are now asking for garage receipts to indicate that work has been correctly carried out. If you are contacting the DVLA to change the model though from Beetle or Saloon  (not convertible) then I would strongly suggest to seek some professional advice first, as mistakes here can be costly. It must also be stressed here, that the outcome can also vary considerably from one DVLA officer to the next. If you still really want to change the model type, we would advise you speak to a moderator of on this site first

So if it was me starting out from scratch, I would at least look for a log book that said simply “VW” as a make and “Convertible” as body type, and I would personally avoid any that said “Beetle” on them unless the Buggy was so good that it was impossible to walk away from. It wouldn`t prevent me from having one, but it would be a significant bargaining chip. The whole "Model" thing is a very grey area, and if your V5 states Beetle or Saloon then its obviously a bit greyer than others. However, it must also be stressed that many are still driving around with these terms on their documents without any issues whatsoever.  If you find one that indicates a Buggy Make, then it’s a real bonus. Obviously check that the numbers on the V5 match those on your chassis, (or you are into a whole heap of trouble), and if the engine numbers and colour also match it’s a distinct advantage, as whilst these can easily be changed, you do run the risk of either being  asked for receipts for the work, or even being called in for an inspection.

I fully understand that despite reading this, some of you may still have some questions, and if so, rather than discussing them on here, would suggest to either contact someone at your local club, or one of the moderators on here for a one to one chat on the phone.

Obviously we cannot discuss nor condone any illegal activities, and this would include any purchase of V5 certificates, building and registering LWB Buggies with an intention to convert to SWB, or any of the loopholes that you may be aware of.

If anyone has any links to resources that may be of help, please email them across to me
« Last Edit: December 01, 2015, 08:59:46 AM by Dave DND »

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Reply #1 on: March 07, 2013, 03:53:19 PM

This letter was sent out by the DVLA stating that you no longer need written evidence (garage reciepts etc) for engine swap on cars registered before 1973


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Reply #2 on: June 19, 2013, 05:36:00 PM
Regarding the MOT & IVA tests and requirements, these might be useful documents for reference:


The IVA Test Manual for cars:

And here are some more documents to read up too:

Further guide:

Mot Testing for cars: (pdf download) 2.47mb

If anyone finds this links not working OR the information of the DVLA / VOSA documents updated, please let a moderator know and we will update the links here. 
« Last Edit: August 08, 2014, 03:13:00 PM by AndyRobinson »
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Reply #3 on: December 07, 2017, 11:21:59 AM
It Could Be Argued . . . . . . .

We get a lot of calls from people who are understandably concerned about their registration details, and many ask me what they should or shouldn't do. I am not an expert in this field, but have learned a great deal from the community on here over the years, and hopefully some of our cumulative knowledge may help you to argue your case on the rare occasions when things don't go quite according to plan.

Dealing with DVLA

Legally speaking, we are required to notify DVLA of any and all changes to a vehicle, and failure to do so can lead to an insurance policy being null and void, the consequences of which can be severe. Our advice when changing any V5c (Log Book) details with DVLA is to do things one bit at a time. Changing your engine details, engine capacity or paint colour is all very easy to do by filling out the V5c and sending it back to be updated. However, if you try sending it off to have multiple changes of engine, paint, type of fuel and a name change all in one go, then alarm bells are going to start ringing and they may call into question what you are actually trying to do.

Once DVLA have started to express an interest, then expect a long drawn out fight on your hands. Not only will you be bounced from pillar to post, never speaking to the same person twice, but you may also find yourself speaking with someone from a younger generation that may not actually know what a Beach Buggy is, yet alone ever seen a classic VW Beetle on the road. We have to interact with DVLA, we are legally bound to do so, but please be careful, as if you get it wrong, in can trigger an unforeseen chain of events. But rest assured, if this does happen and you persevere with them, you will usually come out on top.

Name or Type

This is without doubt, the root cause of 99% of the problems out there: "I want my V5 to say Beach Buggy"

The Hard Coded names at DVLA such as VOLKSWAGEN are set by the Manufacturers. The generic term of "Beach Buggy" was introduced as lets call it a "Negotiable Option" by relentless pressure behind the scenes from those of us on here a few years back, and was only awarded after a vehicle inspection had been undertaken. With the intervention of SVA / IVA testing, the vehicles that went through were usually assigned new identities based upon their make and model of bodyshell, and you will see some of the later vehicles with names like GP or FIBER FAB or DOON.

As you should be aware by now, the DVLA only ever had a limited vocabulary when it came to variations, and this became even more confusing as vehicles were inspected at the regional DVLA centers where many inspectors were more than happy to rename the vehicle as something else. The default section they had included names like Convertible, Sports Utility, LDV and some were even branded as 4x4, but the general consensus was that it was no longer a Beetle Saloon in the eyes of many. Interestingly, VW never actually called the Beetle a "Beetle". It was only ever a nickname (until VWGB rebadged the 1300S as the GT Beetle) and through the 60's the model designations were the engine sizes: VW1200, VW1300, VW1500 etc. It was not until the sales brochures that appeared in 1967/68 that VW started referring to their cars as Beetles instead of Type 1's, which does mean that if DVLA have an earlier one registered as a Beetle then that is actually technically incorrect.

Pre-DVLA, the logbooks were often filled in by local Council clerks, and in the early hand written days, you could get pretty much what you wanted put on them. Many of the regional DVLA centers also recognized the fact that only the body had been changed from a steel one to a fiberglass one, and were even content with leaving Beetle Saloon on the documentation due to the other names not being relevant either. There were no clear and concise guidelines which has led to there being quite a mess that was long overdue to be sorted out. The only reference to this that I have found to date is from a DVLA examiner who wrote some comments on the bottom of a refused application back in 1999 to say that:

"The correct body type for a Beach Buggy is Convertible"

And that does make a lot more sense than the guidance given in 2016 that we should be calling them 4x4's.  ::)

It just goes to show how inconsistent the DVLA can be, and more importantly, proves that they really do not understand the problem.

Not that many years ago, the MOT Inspectorate were very much on the ball, and when being presented with a car for testing that was obviously not a Beetle Saloon, or 4x4, actually changed the model types on their database to reflect what was being presented in front of them, and they actually used a term that everyone was happy with. It was a very simple and generic term of Beach Buggy. Now why DVLA cannot communicate with the VOSA/DVSA database and update their records with cars that have already been visually inspected and identified by trained MOT examiners is a question that they ought to be asking themselves, as it could save hours of endless bureaucracy.

The bottom line is this: If you simply ask for this to be changed without an inspection, then you are potentially opening a huge tin of worms.


The timeline here is of the utmost significance, and many do not realize that it does not refer to when your car was "born" or the age of your registration number, but refers instead to the date that DVLA were informed that it transformed from a Car to a Beach Buggy.

1988 - Q Reg
In 1983, there were a lot of "Kit Derived Vehicles" (Kit Cars) and vehicles of Unknown Origin (Grey Imports) and where an age or provenance could not be firmly established, then a Q registration suffix was awarded. A Q reg still needs to be taxed, but it does mean that the vehicle has been inspected and passed the rules and regulations of the time.

1998 - SVA
After ten years of throwing Q plates at just about anything that had wheels, it was decided that they ought to look at some of the vehicles a little more closely, and they introduced the SVA test in order to clamp down a bit on the vehicles that were about. There was a grace period for those that had purchased a kit before 1st Jan 1998 and submitted for test before 31st Dec 1999, and they only had to pass a watered down version of the SVA. Any submissions after 31st Dec 1999 had to pass the full SVA test.

2003 - INF26
On the 7th April 2003, there was a very poorly advertised amnesty where the DVLA attempted to get owners of Pre-SVA Kit and Modified Cars to freely update their V5c information. The problem for us is that many Buggy owners who had previously been to the regional DVLA centers for inspection, only to be told that their cars were still technically Beetles, and not a Sports Utility, LDV or 4x4, did not appreciate the importance of having to go through this process, and as such, many are still driving around with Beetle or Beetle Saloon on the V5.

The INF26 Guidelines can be downloaded here:  http://www.beachbuggy.info/Pics/Junk/SWB/inf26.pdf

2009 - IVA
The IVA test was launched in April 2009, and was a gradual transformation from SVA over the coming months. Once a vehicle has passed IVA, a build certificate of specifications will be issued. Important to note that any subsequent changes or alterations will invalidate the certificate, although I am led to believe that this may be under review.

Depending on when DVLA were notified of the change from car to Buggy, will depend on which construction rules you had to follow when building it. For instance, if you have a 1975 Chassis, but you actually turned it into a Buggy in 2010 and notified DVLA accordingly, then you would have had to comply withe the IVA rules and regulations. If your 1975 chassis was turned into a Buggy in 1985 however, then you would be exempt from any SVA/IVA tests, but you should have notified DVLA under the INF26 scheme to get the correct details put onto the V5.

If you missed the INF26 deadline though, it is far from doom and gloom, because if you can provide a cast iron provenance through any receipts, photographic history, books, etc, then DVLA will consider each case this on their own merits. I am aware of a 1991 Volksrod that was awarded "Convertible" status retrospectively in November 2017, having just gone down this exact path.

DVLA Notification

If DVLA are not satisfied, then they will not issue a registration number - we know that. By the same token, if DVLA are happy with our application at the time of submission, then we can assume all is well and that we have complied with the rules and regulations at the time. This letter from DVLA confirms this, and does state that if they do not hold a record of changes being notified, they cannot verify when these alterations took place and must consider each application on its own merits in conjunction with the guidelines in place at the time of notification.

Well, knowing what DVLA can be like, how do we prove that they were notified? This is not a definitive answer for everyone, but will certainly apply to most. I`m not talking about Paint colour or engine numbers as they can be altered as often as you like, No, I`m talking about the Body type - how to prove that it was DVLA that changed the body type from its original VW birth identity. This can be done very easily with a quick glance of the VIN number.

These are the Chassis numbers from the Official VW Karmann Convertibles. Now if your own VIN number is different, then it did not leave the Volkswagen factory as a Convertible and the only way it would have the words "Convertible" anywhere on the V5c is if DVLA were notified of an alteration. The proof of notification is as simple as that, and the fact that a registration was issued is proof that you met the criteria at the time of notification.

year     chassis num      production figures
1949    0 099 906               364
1950    0 138 555             2679
1951    0 220 134             4009
1952    0 313 829             4748
1953    0 428 157             4299
1954    0 575 415             4800
1955    0 781 885             3610
1956    0 929 746             6550
1957    1 246 619             7972
1958    1 600 440             9624
1959    2 007 616           10995
1960    2 528 668           11921
1961    3 192 507           12005
1962    4 010 995           10129
1963    4 846 836           10599
1964    5 677 119           10355
1965    155 000 005       10754
1966    156 000 005         9712
1967    157 000 005         7583
1968    158 000 005       13368
1969    159 000 005       15802
1970    150 2000 005     18008
1971    151 2000 005     24317
1972    152 2000 005     14865
1973    153 2000 005     17685
1974    154 2000 005     12694
1975    155 2000 005       5327
1976    156 2000 001     11081
1977    157 2000 001     14218
1978    158 2000 001     18511
1979    159 2000 001     19569
1980    159 2036 063        544

For those cars that have been inspected and awarded a new chassis number by a regional DVLA office, then your VIN may look like this

SABT     DVLA issued number
VRO       issued from a local office
XXX       (8-10) number of the issuing office
x           (11th) year of VIN issue
xxx        (12-13) issue date
xxx        (15-17) Unique serial number.

So . . . .

It is fairly safe to say then that if DVLA have added the body type of "Convertible" to something that did not come out of the VW Factory as such just proves they were aware that an approved change has been requested at some point. It could also be argued that many of the regional DVLA centers of old may simply have altered the words from Beetle Saloon to Beetle Convertible as that was the easiest option in front of them, and lets face it, there is no argument that the Buggy is still based around the Beetle anyway. This VIN check may also assist the purists that wish to remove the word "Beetle" from a "Beetle Convertible" worded V5c.

Age Related Plates

In the same way that the Royal Mail own the Postcodes, DVLA actually own the Registration Numbers - Not us.  So if they want to change, withdraw or swap them . . . . . then there is often little we can do. The general rule of thumb used to be that any vehicle comprising genuine period components of the same specification, all over 25 years old, would be assigned an age-related registration mark and that the appropriate vehicle enthusiasts club would confirm the authenticity of the components.  Doesn`t always apply to Kit cars though - that was a tough one but not impossible.

Anyone who has communicated with DVLA will have found that they do not appear to see past the INF26 dates, and seem to struggle with any talk of Buggies that are older than this. This is of concern, as I am aware of some members who are updating their V5c records being asked to confirm the chassis length of their cars, and those with shortened chassis are being pointed towards the points system with regards to their vehicles conformity.

At No Point have DVLA ever asked for, nor have kept any previous records of chassis lengths.

This is important for existing Short Wheel Base owners when you consider the Points based system of INF26

The argument for modified Chassis is shown later, but you need to remember that you will be dealing with someone at DVLA who has no idea what you are talking about, so you will have to educate them. The metal body is only held on to the Volkswagen Chassis by around 32 screws, and if removed, this is what you end up with. The subject of age relation should not really factor into this, as most of the running gear is actually retained. The Chassis is still the same Chassis it was born with, (but there may be less of it), and this has been done with the full approval of the original Manufacturer, Volkswagen. The complete running gear you see here is of the same age and from the same single vehicle donor, everything else is cosmetic, and you should not have to consider applying for a new age related number just because you have changed a wing or a door on your car.

There is a very important phrase to remember that DVLA would struggle to object to . . .

"Age related single vehicle donor on original chassis and running gear albeit shortened with Manufacturer approval"

And for those with LWB, its even simpler . . .

"Age related single vehicle donor on unaltered original chassis and running gear"

This is an important argument to get across to DVLA.

Modified Chassis

A very large proportion of Beach Buggies have had their Chassis shortened (SWB) and in recent months, DVLA have been asking some of us to verify our chassis length. On the face of it, they were attempting to retrospectively apply the 8 point ruling system as shown above, so that the Historical status could be rendered as void. This is something we have been fiercely fighting against.

At No Point have DVLA previously ever asked for, nor have kept any previous records of chassis lengths.

For those that have had an existing chassis modification called into question, then this document is a bit of a game changer because unlike any other marque of vehicle that I am aware of, the Car Manufacturer, in this case Volkswagen, have produced an in depth guide of their fully approved and authorized method of Chassis shortening whilst maintaining full rigidity when specifically used with Beach Buggies.

If the Manufacturers deem that their chassis is perfectly suitable to be shortened in the manner shown, then it is difficult to see how this can be questioned by DVLA. It is also important to remember that with Volkswagen being a German Company, then any guidelines published by them will have already met with German T.U.V. approval, which is regarded to be one of the strictest in the world. This set of official instructions from Volkswagen shown below, has been the backbone of VW floorpan fabrication and can be Authenticated and Verified from its part number on the back page.


You can Download your own copy here: http://beachbuggy.info/Pics/Junk/SWB/VW83472920.zip

Unlike most other cars, the Volkswagen Chassis lends itself perfectly to being shortened in this way whilst retaining full structure and integrity. As time has passed on, the only real change to the 1969 document shown above is the type of welding used. It is widely accepted that the Gas Welding of the 1960`s has been far superseded by modern welding techniques, and all welds are subjected to rigorous and visual inspection each year with the annual M.O.T.

Now, irrespective of the arguments of whether or not a Volkswagen Approved modified chassis is still classed as an original one or not for the 8 point ruling, we must also take note of the fact that there are very clear and concise overriding rules in place by DVLA for cutting the chassis from the date of INF26 onwards, which take precedent.

For Buggies Built Pre INF26
If your Buggy was correctly registered with DVLA prior to INF26, then DVLA must accept the approved VW Manufacturer guidelines for chassis modification and the 8 point ruling system cannot be retrospectively applied. Important to stress that any welds and joints are visually inspected each year as part of the annual MOT test.

For Buggies Built Post INF26
The 8 point ruling comes into play here, but please note that if your Buggy is correctly registered with DVLA, then they will have been satisfied with its construction at the time of notification. The Volkswagen guide for altering or shortening the chassis will also prove invaluable to those of you in showing to your IVA test center that the methods used have full manufacturer approval, and are done to retain full structural and chassis integrity.

« Last Edit: February 20, 2019, 11:43:31 AM by Dave DND »

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Reply #4 on: December 07, 2017, 11:22:53 AM
VHI  -  Vehicles of Historical Interest

Following a Government Consultation, from May 2018 it is intended that Vehicles of Historical interest (and that means over 40 years old) will be exempt from having an annual MOT test. In order to ensure that not all cars do not qualify for this new exemption, DVLA very unwisely decided to issue a set of new rules so that Kit Cars or Radically altered vehicles would have their Historic status revoked. The ruling they proposed was as follows:

• to assess these changes in line with the longstanding INF 26 guidelines for kit cars or radically altered vehicles, they may have been asked to declare the length of the chassis to enable DVLA clerks to determine the extent of the changes made

• depending on the modifications, irrespective of ‘manufacturer approval’ the vehicles may require re-registration provided they can attain IVA. Please refer to INF 26 Guidelines.

• The rules around kit or radically altered vehicles are longstanding and have not changed

If this had gone ahead, then it would have wiped out virtually every Beach Buggy overnight, as there is no way that our cars that have been on the road since the 1960's would (or even should) ever comply with a retrospective modern IVA test that they were proposing. The ill conceived suggestion that we refer to INF26 guidelines in order to attain IVA really proved that they had no idea what they were actually proposing.

What they had really not banked on though, was the sheer strength of the Beach Buggy Community on here, because unlike many other car clubs with less than a hundred or so people, they were now faced with an angry Buggy Club with in excess of 1300 members. One of the the biggest problems we encountered was getting DVLA, (who were so focused on INF26), to accept that we have had cars on the road for nearly 40 years before INF26 ever came to light.

It has been a long hard fight, and it is far from over, but on the 4th November 2017, the Department of Transport finally withdrew the requirement for those of us with Historic Status to comply with the DVLA points system of INF26.

There is a compromise for these guidelines to not be applied retrospectively, and that is for those of us with Radically Altered Historic Vehicles to continue to be subjected to an annual MOT test - which is actually what most of us would have done anyway.

More announcements are due to be made, and when they are, we will consider our next move . . .

« Last Edit: December 15, 2017, 08:33:05 AM by Dave DND »

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Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 12:10:32 PM
Government guidelines as per December 2017


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Reply #6 on: April 19, 2018, 04:21:14 PM
This is now the Official Guidance as of April 19th 2018:

Vehicles of Historical Interest (VHI): Substantial Change Guidance

Most vehicles manufactured or first registered over 40 years ago will, as of 20 May 2018, be exempt from periodic testing unless they have been substantially changed (1).

Large goods vehicles (i.e. goods vehicles with a maximum laden weight of more than 3.5 tonnes) and buses (i.e. vehicles with 8 or more seats) that are used commercially will not be exempted from periodic testing at 40 years.

A vehicle that has been substantially changed within the previous 30 years will have to be submitted for annual MoT testing. Whether a substantially changed vehicle requires re-registration is a separate process.

Keepers of VHIs exempt from periodic testing continue to be responsible for their vehicle’s roadworthiness. Keepers of vehicles over 40 years old can voluntarily submit vehicles for testing.

Keepers of VHIs claiming an exemption from the MoT test should make a declaration when renewing their vehicle tax. The responsibility to ensure the declared vehicle is a VHI and meets the criteria, rests with the vehicle keeper as part of their due diligence. If a vehicle keeper is not sure of the status of a vehicle, they can consult a marque or historic vehicles expert, a list of whom will be available on the website of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs.

If a vehicle keeper cannot determine that the vehicle has not been substantially changed, they should not claim an exemption from the MoT test.

The criteria for substantial change
A vehicle will be considered substantially changed if the technical characteristics of the main components have changed in the previous 30 years, unless the changes fall into specific categories. These main components for vehicles, other than motorcycles (2), are:

Chassis (replacements of the same pattern as the original are not considered a substantial change) or Monocoque bodyshell including any sub-frames (replacements of the same pattern as the original are not considered a substantial change);

Axles and running gear – alteration of the type and or method of suspension or steering constitutes a substantial change;

Engine – alternative cubic capacities of the same basic engine and alternative original equipment engines are not considered a substantial change. If the number of cylinders in an engine is different from the original, it is likely to be, but not necessarily, the case that the current engine is not alternative original equipment.

The following are considered acceptable (not substantial) changes if they fall into these specific categories:
• changes that are made to preserve a vehicle, which in all cases must be when original type parts are no longer reasonably available;
• changes of a type, that can be demonstrated to have been made when vehicles of the type were in production or in general use (within ten years of the end of production);
• in respect of axles and running gear changes made to improve efficiency, safety or environmental performance;
• in respect of vehicles that have been commercial vehicles, changes which can be demonstrated were being made when they were used commercially.
In addition if a vehicle (including a motorcycle):
• has been issued with a registration number with a ‘Q’ prefix; or
• is a kit car assembled from components from different makes and model of vehicle; or
• is a reconstructed classic vehicle as defined by DVLA guidance; or
• is a kit conversion, where a kit of new parts is added to an existing vehicle, or old parts are added to a kit of a manufactured body, chassis or monocoque bodyshell changing the general appearance of the vehicle;
it will be considered to have been substantially changed and will not be exempt from MOT testing.
However if any of the four above types of vehicle is taxed as an “historic vehicle” and has not been modified during the previous 30 years, it can be considered as a VHI.

This guidance is only intended to determine the testing position of a substantially changed vehicle, not its registration.

How to declare a vehicle for the 40 year MOT exemption
Vehicle keepers are required to ensure that their vehicles are taxed when used on a public road. From 20 May 2018, at the point of taxing a vehicle, the vehicle keeper can declare their vehicle exempt from MOT if it was constructed more than 40 years ago.
When declaring an exemption, you will be required to confirm that it has not been substantially changed (as defined in this guidance). This process will be applied to pre-1960 registered vehicles, as well as newer vehicles in the historic vehicle tax class.
If the vehicle does not have an MOT and you wish to continue using it on the public roads, you will have either to undergo an MOT or, if you wish exemption from the MOT, to declare that the vehicle is a VHI.
If the vehicle has a current MOT certificate but you anticipate that on expiry of that certificate you will wish exemption from future MOTs you will at the time of relicensing be required to declare that the vehicle is a VHI.

How to tax your vehicle in the historic vehicle tax class
Where vehicle keepers first apply for the historic vehicle tax class, it must be done at a Post Office. If you are declaring that your vehicle is exempt from MOT, you will need to complete a V112 declaration form, taking into consideration the substantially changed guidelines, (as defined above). Further re-licensing applications, including making subsequent declarations that the vehicle does not require an MOT, can be completed online.
Further advice on taxing in the historic vehicle tax class can be found via the following link:


Advice (not part of the Guidance)

What do I need to do if I am responsible for a vehicle aged more than 40 years old and first registered in or after 1960?
From 20 May 2018 most of these vehicles will not need a valid MOT certificate to be used on public roads. You still need to keep the vehicle in a roadworthy condition and can voluntarily have a test. We recommend continued regular maintenance and checks of the vehicle.
You need to check whether the vehicle has been substantially altered in the last 30 years, checking against the criteria (in the guidance above). If it has been altered substantially a valid MOT certificate will continue to be required. If you are unsure check, for example from an expert on historic vehicles (list referenced in the guidance). If you buy a vehicle, we also recommend checking with the previous owner if you can.
The registration number of a vehicle should not be used to determine if the vehicle is a VHI as it may not reflect the vehicle’s age (cherished transfers, reconstructed classic vehicles etc.) The registration certificate (V5C) is more authoritative, but there are specific cases for example related to imported vehicles where in some cases the age of the vehicle would not have been captured at point of registration.
If your vehicle does not have a current MOT certificate and is exempt from needing an MOT test you will need to declare this each time when you apply for Vehicle Excise Duty.
For large vehicles, see also the later sections.

What do I need to do if I am responsible for a vehicle first registered before 1960?
These vehicles are currently exempt from the requirement for a valid MOT certificate to be used on public roads. Most, but not all, will continue to be exempt. You still need to keep the vehicle in a roadworthy condition and can voluntarily have a test. We recommend continued regular maintenance and checks of the vehicle.
You need to check whether the vehicle has been substantially altered within the last 30 years checking against the criteria (in the guidance notes). If it has been substantially changed, an MOT certificate will be required for its use on public roads from 20th May 2018, even if the vehicle has previously not required an MOT.
If your vehicle does not have a current MOT test certificate and is exempt from needing an MOT test you will need to declare this each time when you apply for Vehicle Excise Duty.
If you are responsible for a large goods vehicle (more than 3.5 tonnes) or a public service vehicle (with 8 or more passenger seats) used commercially, you will require a valid test certificate if the vehicle has been substantially changed in the last 30
years or if, in the case of a goods vehicle, it is used when laden or towing a laden trailer.

Which old, large vehicles do not require testing from 20th May 2018?
Buses and other public service vehicles with 8 or more seats that are used commercially are exempt if they are pre-1960 vehicles. This is still the case from 20th May 2018 unless they have been substantially changed.
Buses that are not public service vehicles over 40 years old are exempt from 20th May 2018 if they meet the new definition of “vehicle of historical interest”.
Large goods vehicles (of more than 3.5 tonnes) are exempt from testing, if first used before 1960 and used unladen, but provided (with effect from 20th May 2018) they have not have been substantially changed.
A small number of pre-1960 large goods vehicles will require goods vehicle tests. If they have never been tested, owners will need to apply for a first test using a VTG1 application form. This includes contact details for DVSA, which can be used in the event of practical problems, for example concerns about testability and finding a test centre.
Some separate exemptions from testing in full or parts of the test are relevant to some old, large goods vehicles. For example steam powered vehicles are exempt from testing. Another example is in respect of the petrol driven historic lorries, all spark ignition (petrol) vehicles over 3.5tonnes are exempt from a metered check in the test.

(1) If the type of vehicle is still in production, it is not exempt from periodic testing.
(2) Further arrangements for motorcycles may be introduced, including if core testing standards are considered further internationally.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 02:35:01 PM by Dave DND »

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Reply #7 on: April 20, 2018, 02:43:31 PM
Update: 20th April 2018

I have now been accepted by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) as one of their nominated experts. To clarify a few points regarding the new regime for exemptions from the requirement to take the MoT Test that comes into force on 20 May 2018.

Principles of the List of Experts

The Department for Transport (DfT) has, as you will no doubt have seen, issued Guidance (previous post) which sets out the basis upon which the keeper of a historic vehicle registered in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) may declare to The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), through a question on the annual relicensing form or online application, that a vehicle qualifies as a Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI).

Guidance provided by a Government department is not part of the law but advises citizens of the administrative decisions of the department regarding

a)   how the Department will perform aspects of its legally mandated functions, and
b)   the rights and obligations of those citizens affected by those functions.
DVLA are providing the platform for the declaration, but the declaration is not otherwise connected to DVLA’s licensing activities.

Making a declaration to DVLA in respect of a vehicle as a VHI is not compulsory.  Not doing so in any year, because the keeper is content to have the vehicle undertake an MOT test, does not mean the vehicle cannot be validly declared a VHI in any subsequent year.

The Guidance sets out a comprehensive set of Criteria to be used in deciding whether a ‘substantial change’ has occurred. It also states that no change carried out more than thirty years ago requires to be considered.

Currently no procedure is proposed by DfT or DVLA to audit or check the validity of declarations made by keepers.

The Guidance, in its fifth paragraph, states that keepers should, if they are in doubt as to the status of their vehicle, consult a marque or historic vehicle expert prior to making a declaration to DVLA. It also states that a list of such experts will be kept by the FBHVC. This list is referred to hereafter as ‘the List of Experts’.

There is no compulsion on keepers to consult an expert from the list, or indeed any expert, before making their declaration.

The responsibility of declaring a vehicle is a VHI will rest entirely with the keeper.  The purpose of requiring availability of experts is purely to assist keepers in making their declaration, should they wish to do so.

The function of an expert is to advise keepers of their opinion, in their best judgement, on questions asked by the keeper both as to

(a)   Whether the vehicle is able in accordance with the Guidance criteria to be declared as a VHI and,

(b)   to the extent they have any relevant knowledge, the time any change was made.
For these purposes

(a)   An expert does not make the final decision on whether or not a vehicle is declared as a VHI.

(b)   An expert may require to inspect the vehicle to enable them to reach their opinion but will not be obliged to do so.

(c)   No expert will be obliged to provide an opinion, unless they are satisfied the information they have been provided with is accurate and sufficient.

(d)   An expert will have no responsibility to DfT, DVLA, FBHVC or any third party whether directly or indirectly in respect of their opinion.

(e)   An expert is free to decline to provide an opinion, whether to members of their own organisation or to others, if in their view they are not in possession of sufficient, or sufficiently precise and accurate, facts.

(f)   An expert or an organisation nominating an expert is entitled to reimbursement of any costs incurred in reaching or providing the opinion and may make a reasonable charge for the service provided, which may be different depending upon whether the keeper making the request is or is not a member.

this user is offline Dave DND

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Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 05:38:18 PM
Now that our Club has been Officially Recognized and my name is on the FBHVC Register of experts, I am now getting quite a few referral calls from them as well as DVSA with regards to issues arising with Beach Buggies. There currently seems to be a lot of confusion over the MOT Exemption Status especially with regard to Beach Buggies being advertised for sale on eBay and various Websites.

So lets try and make this very clear for all to understand.

RULES:     These will Differ from Classic Cars as our Vehicles have been Radically Altered in their Visual Appearance

The AGE of your Chassis DOES NOT entitle you to MOT Exemption Status

The Registration date on your V5c DOES NOT entitle you to MOT Exemption Status

Tax Exemption DOES NOT entitle you to MOT Exemption Status

MOT Exemption is awarded upon the DATE THE BUGGY WAS BUILT and NOT the age of the Donor Chassis

If your Buggy was built less than 30 years ago then you DO NOT QUALIFY for MOT Exemption Status

If DVLA/DVSA were NOTIFIED of Change from Beetle to a Buggy less than 30 years ago then you DO NOT QUALIFY for MOT Exemption Status

If your Buggy was built over 30 years ago AND DVLA WERE NOTIFIED of such - Then you "MAY" Qualify as MOT exempt
(Subject to other other rules and regulations that may apply)

Common MOT FAQ's:

My 1966 Buggy is classed as a Historic Vehicle with Free Tax, so its Automatically a "VHI" and MOT exempt, Right?
Wrong. The 30 year exemption ruling is from the date when the DVLA were notified of it being transformed into a Buggy, not the age related year of the donor chassis. If, for instance, your chassis is 1966, but it was converted into a Buggy in 2001, then whilst you may still benefit from free tax, you do not have enough "Buggy years" under your belt to qualify for MOT exemption. This is one of the DVSA quirks as the tax relates to the age of the chassis, yet the MOT exemption relates to the date that DVLA/DVSA were notified of the conversion. This ruling is different for us as unlike the majority of Classic Cars out there, ours have been Radically and Visually Altered - ie: they no longer look like a VW Beetle.

How do I prove when my Buggy was Registered as Converted?
If you can find a clear and concise way of answering this one, then please let me know. In the meantime, I can only offer some general advice based on my experiences so far. This requires some considerable homework. You may need to approach DVLA for a history report on your vehicle, and that again comes with a few caveats. As a general guide, those that were correctly registered and converted prior to the mid 1990`s may have "Convertible" on the Registration Document. Those that have Beach Buggy or the name of a Buggy, such as GP or DOON will probably have been registered post 1998, more often than not with a date specified on the V5. Those that have BEETLE or SALOON registered are unlikely to be considered for MOT exemption as DVSA will class these as not having been correctly registered as a Buggy, unless you have inspection documentation or provenance that can prove otherwise. There will be exceptions to this, and remember that this is just a guide towards MOT Exemption, and not about Vehicle Registration.

My Buggy is Short Wheelbase, Can it still be MOT Exempt?
Sometimes. Chassis length is not taken into consideration providing that any alterations were completed over 30 years ago and that it has the correct wording on the V5. My understanding is that a Short Wheelbase with "Beetle" or "Saloon" on the V5 is NOT EXEMPT and will still require an MOT to be carried out. Anything else on the V5 should be ok. (see above)

I`m not sure my Buggy would go through an MOT, so can I register it as exempt and not have to worry about it?
Definitely not. You car must always be in a fully roadworthy and safe condition. If you think that there is something that will fail an MOT, then it still needs fixing before you can use it on the road. If you get stopped by the side of the road in an un-roadworthy vehicle, then you could face some very serious consequences.

Do I need to find a Special Buggy Friendly MOT Station?
Strictly speaking, No, as any MOT station should be able to test your vehicle although there is no harm in looking for an MOT station that is use to dealing with Classic Cars rather than modern Repmobiles. Some of the younger generation of inspectors may not be initially aware of what they need to test and what is exempt from testing due to the age of the Buggy, and a certain amount of educating them may be required. Its actually quite difficult to fail a Buggy as there is precious little to test, and most of the allotted time will be spent twiddling their thumbs and drinking tea. It is always a good idea to strike up a good rapport with your MOT station though, as it can make life a lot easier!

My MOT tester reckons my 1979 Buggy on a 1966 Pan should be classed as a reconstructed classic.
No. This is an indication of a tester that does not understand the rules and what they have said is actually nothing to do with them. If the registration document indicates that you have a 1966 vehicle, then it is tested as such. This is one of the rare times that I would advise going to another MOT station, as there is no point in making life difficult with an uneducated jobsworth before its even gone on the ramps for inspection.

Do I just let the MOT run out and continue driving as Exempt?
Absolutely not. MOT exemption has to be applied for by means of an annual self declaration of at the time of applying for your vehicle tax. If you are caught driving with an EXPIRED MOT, then this is treated very seriously with the usual result of the car being impounded and often destroyed.

Will my Insurance be OK if I am MOT exempt?
Have a word with your Insurers. A few will allow continued cover, although most of them will have imposed severe restrictions against mileage, personal injury and international travel, and I am aware of quite a few that will no longer provide any cover whatsoever if the vehicle does not have a current MOT.

Will my Breakdown cover be OK if I am MOT exempt?
Highly unlikely. Most of the breakdown companies now have something in their small print that clearly states that any vehicle must have a valid MOT certificate, and I have not yet been made aware of any companies that offer breakdown cover for those who are exempt.

At the end of the day, if for no other reason, why not just MOT it for peace of mind?
Or are you really that arrogant to think that £30~£40 a year for a second set of professional eyes to carefully inspect your vehicle for faults is not worth it?

Nuff Said.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2019, 10:16:25 PM by Dave DND »

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Reply #9 on: July 30, 2019, 06:55:55 PM
One of the questions I regularly get asked on a daily basis is regarding the name shown on the V5, particularly BEETLE or SALOON and some that have got this far reading this thread are more than a little concerned. Well don't be - and lets see what we can now come up with to help you.

Until we get some rock solid clarification from DVLA or the vehicle amnesty that I am currently fighting for, then we will have to do a bit of lateral thinking on this one, and whilst my thoughts here are as yet unproven, it would be quite difficult to disagree with them. However, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRY AND CHANGE THE BODY TYPE YOURSELF WITHOUT SEEKING ADVICE FROM ONE OF THE MODERATORS ON HERE FIRST.

As we have already stated, VW never actually called the Beetle a "Beetle". It was only ever a nickname (until VWGB rebadged the 1300S as the GT Beetle) and through the 60's the model designations were the engine sizes: VW1200, VW1300, VW1500 etc. It was not until the sales brochures that appeared in 1967/68 that VW started referring to their cars as Beetles instead of Type 1's, which does mean that if DVLA have an earlier one registered as a Beetle then that is actually technically incorrect.

Let us sidetrack a minute and think of the car we know as the Mini. The current BMW Mini is larger than a Landrover and a far cry from the concept designed 60 years ago by Alec Issigonis and shares nothing other than the name and the badge. So we can accept that a badge that says Mini could be used on a number of vehicles of differing shape and size.

Ok then - so here is a thought about badges.

If you saw this badge on the boot of a car, what would you think the car was ?   ???

But then a Golf can also have this badge which has nothing to do with a Furry Pet Animal?  ;)

So it is widely accepted that a Golf can also be called something different - With me so far?   

We are all legally obliged to keep our V5 details up to date and that means engine numbers, address, colour etc etc. Anything you change on the car MUST be registered with DVLA as soon as you change it. They don`t actually seem interested in what the car is called just so long as the details on the V5 matches the vehicle that you are driving about in. Where people come unstuck is when the likes of MOT examiners or ANPR cameras flag up a yellow car driving past when its actually blue and they will say that the registered car in front of them is not as presented. That bit we understand. However, we are also now dealing with a younger generation of people that have never actually seen "Herbie"  nor remember the streets buzzing to the sound of air cooled engines, so when a Buggy goes past and their database says "Beetle", and what we know as a Beach Buggy does not match the latest generation of water cooled monstrosity of Beetle that they are now thinking of, then their instant reaction is to flag it up.

So . . . . . .

If you are worried that your V5 says BEETLE but your car does not, then I have a potential solution for you. Your car has 99% of the running gear of a Beetle, it probably has the chassis and engine of a Beetle. So why not stick a badge on the back (Genuine VW Part number even) to say BEETLE and that way if you are ever called into question, you can simply reply, "Yes, its a Beetle, and that's what it also says on the rear".

And for those of you with SALOON on the V5, then don`t worry as the Nissan Sunny has provided a suitable badge for you too and I think "EX-SALOON" is actually quite comical if you can track one down. Failing that, a rummage through your local parts factors for some letters would probably suffice. To the best of my knowledge, nowhere does it actually state say that a SALOON has to have a roof, (no different to DVLA calling our cars 4x4 without having four wheel drive fitted) so if you put the name SALOON on the rear of your car, then I cannot see how it can be misinterpreted.

Its actually a very simple solution as you are not disguising what the V5 says, but actually confirming it when the car is ever presented.

Looks like a Duck . .  Walks like a Duck . . . Quacks like a Duck . . . . . . . It might just be a Duck  ;)

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Reply #10 on: June 29, 2020, 09:56:36 AM
There will of course be those of you with Long Wheel Base (LWB) models that would like to register them correctly, and as it it not something I have personally done myself, I will advise you to have a careful read of the write up that Chris Jordan did when he regisitered his LWB DOON back in 2005.



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Reply #11 on: June 29, 2020, 12:11:25 PM
There will of course be those of you with Long Wheel Base (LWB) models that would like to register them correctly, and as it it not something I have personally done myself, I will advise you to have a careful read of the write up that Chris Jordan did when he regisitered his LWB DOON back in 2005.



Good advice as ever Dave but just to add that nothing is written in stone. I went through the same process about 7 years ago, filled in the V627/1 form just about the same keeping it as 'standard Volkswagen' as possible but I was called in to a VOSA truck test centre to have it inspected by a DVLA engineer (inspections if deemed necessary are now carried out by an independent agency, SGS at your own premises).

I know that Chris was happy with his result but if I were to do it again I'd keep it a little more simple. I would keep the make as Volkswagen as I've successfully argued with authorities in the past that a regular beach buggy is not a kit car but simply a rebodied VW, this also aligns nicely with one of their own descriptions in the VHI ( Vehicle of Historic Interest) regs.  Chassis length (SWB or LWB) has no place in the V5C, no need, keep it simple and vague and personally, I'd stick with something like Beach Buggy in the Model section rather than Manx, Doon or whatever, just in case I changed my mind and decided to rebody it as maybe a slightly different style of beach buggy at some time in the future, that's just me though.

« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 01:18:49 PM by Manxdavid »
Photos printed on genuine ILFORD® paper, sent from a Commodore VIC 20.

"Ah, Beach Buggies, sure, just a quick cheap way of getting a few more years out of a rusty Beetle. You can throw one together in a weekend." anon.

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Reply #12 on: July 31, 2020, 05:48:49 PM
Following advice from Dave DND, Manxdavid, Chad and Chris Jordan's post I thought I would post what I did in order to change my V5 from Saloon in the hope taht it will help other members on here.

Copy of letter sent to DVLA on 1/7/2020

1st July 2020

Re Change of Body Type / Colour to (Reg Number Deleted)

Dear Sir

Please find enclosed and amended V5C relating to vehicle (Reg Number Deleted).  The original orange Saloon body has been removed and has been replaced with a yellow “Doon” beach buggy shell provided by Volksmagic on the original unmodified chassis.

I have also enclosed a completed Built Up Vehicle Inspection Report, form V627/1, detailing the changes as well as photographs showing the unmodified components as well as the new shall fitted. I have also included a copy of the receipt for the purchase of the beach buggy shell.

Can you please amend section D.5 from “Saloon” to “Beach Buggy” and section R from “Orange” to ”Yellow”.

The vehicle will be undergoing an MOT later this month now that testing stations have reopened.

If you need any further information please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards

Copy of amended V5

Copy of V627/1 Page 1

Copy of V627/1 Page 2

Copy of letter from DVLA on 22/7/2020

I emailed this back on the 26/7/2020

Re 89749971 bishopg1 Kits & rebuilds D9 – (Reg Number Deleted)

Dear Mr Bishop

Thank you for your letter of 22nd July 2020.

In answer to your questions –

1.   The wheel plan length measured from the centre of the front wheel to the centre of the back wheel is 2,400 mm

2.   The vehicle has 4 seats in total (2 in the front and 2 in the back)

3.   I confirm that the original chassis has not been modified in any way

Kind regards

Letter received from DVLA on 28/7/2020

New V5 received 31/7/2020

So done within the month. Not "Beach Buggy" as requested but I can live with that.   ;)

*** Edit:Admin ***

Its not often we get to sing the praises of DVLA on here, but I think Richard actually managed to find someone that knew what they were talking about. Hopefully this will act as both a guide and a precedent to assist others that want to change their Body Type, although I personally would have requested "Convertible" and not "Beach Buggy" as that is the correct type assigned to us at the moment. Beach Buggy is generally only awarded after an IVA/SVA test and inspection has taken place, and "Convertible" seems to be awarded to Long Wheel Base models without this extra hurdle. Very important to note that this guidance DOES NOT APPLY to short wheel base models, and as your chassis length has now been recorded, I would expect the book to be thrown at you if you decided to shorten a chassis afterwards in an attempt to get around the rules. 

Thanks to RichardD1970 for this info.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 05:56:14 PM by Dave DND »

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Reply #13 on: August 01, 2020, 07:19:20 AM
This shows how easy a new build lwb registration is ;-)up