Drivers in Northern Ireland whose MOTs are due during the pandemic shutdown will enjoy a one-year exemption, a Stormont minister said.
It would not be possible to accommodate the backlog as well as conduct normal business at testing centres, infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon said.
Drivers will instead apply for MOTs as normal next year.
Ms Mallon said: “I have decided the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) will continue to issue temporary exemption certificates (TECs) to those vehicles, private cars, goods vehicles, trailers or motorcycles until their normal MOT date.
“This means a vehicle will get an exemption for one year which will bring it back into the system when there is capacity to test it.”
The announcement is confined to Northern Ireland.
On 24 March, in the interest of public safety and to tackle the spread of coronavirus, the DVA suspended all vehicle testing for three months, until 22 June.
It remains the responsibility of the vehicle owner to make sure their car is in a roadworthy condition to be used on a road.
From this month reduced red tape will mean “customers will no longer have to book a test that they know they will never attend and pay over money only for it to be returned to them in a refund some weeks later”, Ms Mallon said.
She said the DVA will lose £8.6 million in MOT fees if the restrictions on testing continue for three months.
She added the public health emergency required a response which could not be paid for within conventional budgets.
Ms Mallon said she wanted to increase the space available for people to walk and cycle by extending pavements, pedestrianising streets and introducing pop-up cycle lanes.
“I have already identified some parts of Belfast city centre and Derry City that can be transformed in this way and I intend to work with councils to identify more areas across the North as a matter of urgency.
“Changing how we use our spaces will transform communities right across Northern Ireland, creatively change lives, enable social distancing and encourage health and mental well being.”