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Don't feel overwhelmed by the process, it’s really not as daunting as you think. Talk to people who have been through the process, don’t listen to idle comments from people who haven't done it.

Vehicle identity is a hot topic at the moment.

If you are making any changes to your classic or custom vehicle, or reconstructing or building a vehicle, chances are you’ll be aware of the DVLA’s 8-point rule and the rules on registering altered vehicles. You’ll probably also be aware that when making changes outside this framework, the vehicle will require an IVA which can result in a Q plate or current registration. Aged related plates can be awarded to vehicles that fall within the Reconstructed Classics category, but use a mix of new and used parts, and you’ll still require an IVA.

Threats to our hobby and cherished vehicle owners are coming from all angles. From the impending ban on new internal combustion engines to low emissions zones and the ways we will be able to use the roads. It’s nothing new, but the threat is strengthening. BIVA, formally SVA, has been around for a number of years, and realisation is setting in that the time for using older and self-built cars on today’s roads could be limited without it, particularly in relation to modified and radically altered vehicles.

The whole subject is very often a cause for debate based on opinions and interpretations, but when the end result is a vehicle that has been deemed safe and can keep up with today’s road conditions, it’s time to pay attention to the future usability of your self-built vehicle, and how your car club could be supporting you.

IMPORTANT: A vehicle must be properly taxed, insured, and registered before it can be used or kept on the public road, and it is the vehicle keepers’ responsibility to ensure their vehicle meets the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations.

From an insurance point of view, we’re not here to correct you on the registration of your vehicle, but we are concerned about the future of our shared passion. Groups are campaigning on classic car owners’ behalf, but when you want to build a vehicle that does not look how it originally came out of the factory, you may feel in unchartered waters. The National Street Rod Association has taken legislation issues seriously for decades, so to gain some clarity and to help support builders, we sat down with the NSRA’s Legislation Officer, Trevor Gardiner, to find out more.

Hi Trevor, please tell us a bit about yourself and your cars

I’ve been messing about with cars since I was 17 and I’m now 62, and what started as a hobby, has now become my full-time job. Some of my more well-known cars include a MK1 high-riding Ford Fiesta with a V6 engine, a crew cab Granada Pickup with a Rover V8 and full air suspension, and quite a few other cars. My most well known ones are my Model T C Cab ‘Diggers Express Delivery’, and a fully IVA’d MK2 Ford Transit ‘Diggers Express Delivery 2’. I have also been involved in several BIVA builds.

What does your role as Legislation Officer for the NSRA entail? What issues are hotrodders and modified vehicle owners facing?

I keep abreast of new legislation affecting our hobby and pass this information on to club members in a variety of different ways, be it at shows or on social media. The issues facing the NSRA members are impending legislation, pay-per-mile initiatives, and the tightening up of rules. As far as we are aware the future is going to be interesting and collectively, we will need careful consideration when building and registering a car.

What is the BIVA test and who is it aimed at?

Basic IVA (BIVA) involves a visual inspection and other tests to make sure your vehicle meets the necessary standards. The BIVA test is aimed at self-built vehicles. Once the vehicle has gone through the test it will be registered correctly.

How does BIVA differ from the DVLA’s original points system?

The DVLA’s original points system is used to determine whether the vehicle needs to go through the BIVA test.

What is involved with getting a car through the test that a MOT wouldn’t cover?

The BIVA test involves correct markings on all glass, it considers the construction of the vehicle, including sharp edges, noise, axle weight limits, headrests, line of sight, and collapsible steering.

Once your car has passed the BIVA test, will you always receive a ‘Q’ registered plate?

If the vehicle is built using new parts, it will receive a current registration number that can be changed for a personal plate.  All other constructed vehicles will receive a Q plate which cannot be removed.

What would you need to change on a car that’s already drivable to pass the IVA test?

It is on a case-by-case basis. But you would need proof of build, i.e. photos and some receipts. The rest depends on how the car was built.

How is the NSRA supporting its members as more people take note of the future of their hobby?

There are quite a few cars within the club that have already gone through BIVA and more are being built for the test as we speak. The support will include information from myself and other reliable sources, available on the NSRA forum, the NSRA Street Gasser magazine, and other social media sources.

If someone is interested in finding out more, what resources are available?

There is a guide to passing the BIVA test and the BIVA manual are both available to download from DVLA website. NSRA members who need help can also contact me via the NSRA website or post questions on the NSRA forum.

What are your top tips for someone who is planning a build?

First of all, if you are an NSRA member, contact me at for more information.

My next recommendations are to:

A: Plan ahead
B: Read the pages in the BIVA manual that link to your specific car. You do not need to download the whole document.
C: Don’t feel overwhelmed by the process, it’s really not as daunting as you think. Talk to people who have been through the process, don’t listen to idle comments from people who haven’t done it.
D: Finally, if you are worried about the legality of a vehicle, check the DVLA point system and read the BIVA manual.

Thanks very much, Trevor for talking to us. If you have any BIVA or legislation-related questions, particularly in relation to rods and custom cars, you can catch up with the NSRA team at the NSRA Hot Rod Supernationals this summer from the 2nd – 4th August 2024.