National Car Test (NCT)

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. Find further information about the test including what the test examines and important recent updates.

Important Notices re NCT

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: surveyoptout@rsa.ie and you will not be included in any future surveys.

NCT fee increase

The fee for a full NCT will increase to €55 with effect from 1 February 2012.  There is no change to the re-test fee which remains at €28.

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.

Annual testing of cars 10 years and older

From 1 June 2011 annual testing has been introduced for cars 10 years and older.  There is a need to ensure that older vehicles are frequently maintained and are fit for purpose on our roads. All cars presented for their 10th anniversary or subsequent NCT on or after 1 June 2011 will receive a certificate valid for up to one year only. 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 : integrity@ncts.ie               

Phone : 1890 928 580

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

NCT changes (from 1st January 2012)

Changes to the periodic roadworthiness tests have been mandated by Directive 2010/48/EU.  The purpose of this Directive is to harmonise the testing regimes of Member States and for the first time lists methods of testing and reasons for failure for all items.  Some of the test items in the NCT test have been modified to comply with the requirements of the Directive.  These changes are to take effect from 01 January 2012.

The RSA have prepared a list of the major changes to the NCT Testers Manual.  There may be other minor changes to correct errors in the first revision or to clarify a point.  The revised NCT manual is also now available for download.

Should you have further queries, please contact:

Vehicle Standards
Road Safety Authority
Tel:  096-25014
e-mail:  vehiclestandards@rsa.ie
 

 

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 record 893,664 cars were tested by NCTS in 2010 and more than half of them 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. 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 1963-2002 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

 

An Annual NCT for cars 10 years and older commenced with effect from 1 June 2011. The effect of this is that all cars presented for their 10th anniversary or subsequent NCT on or after 1st June 2011 will receive a certificate valid for up to one year only. Further information on NCT testing frequency can be found in our FAQ's document

Booking an NCT

There are 46 NCT test centres located throughout Ireland established solely for the purposes of car testing. Find the centre that is most convenient to you.

An NCT for a car due its first test may be booked and undertaken up to 6 months in advance of the due date and up to 3 months in advance for subsequent NCTs. If the test is undertaken in advance of the due date the certificate will still be issued to the next test due date.

Booking options

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

You may book your NCT by any if the following methods

Internet: www.ncts.ie

Phone: lo-call 1890 412 413 from 8am to 8pm (Mon-Thurs) and 8am to 6pm (Fri)

Email: bookings@ncts.ie

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.

 

Fees

The car test fee is €55 (inclusive of VAT). NCTS will accept cash, laser 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, or fail to show up for the test, a €22 surcharge will be applied when your vehicle is next brought for testing.

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 2012.

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 and January 2012.

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 displaing your NCT disc.

Pass rates & Statistics

Pass rates are improving all the time. When testing was first introduced, less than 4% of vehicles passed at the first attempt compared to over 70% in 2009 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 and older. View the full report of NCT results for 2007 to 2012 (PDF) 

Main Fail Items

The top five fail items in the first 6 months of 2010 are as follows:

  1. Brake Lines/Hoses
  2. Tyre Condition
  3. Tyre Specification
  4. Indicators/ Tell Tales
  5. Headlamp Condition

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 €2000 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.

Re-tests

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.