Applying for UN Approvals

This page was last updated on 5th February 2020

The UN Testing and Certification Certification System

The UK system is run under the informal Arrangements for the performance, testing, certification and marking of packagings used for the transport of dangerous goods, published jointly by the DfT, CAA and the Health and Safety Executive.  The areas of testing and certification should be considered separately.


Tests leading to the issue of a certificate are carried out only by authorised test stations that are accredited by UKAS.  Authorisation by UKAS covers test facilities, expertise, reports and all matters affecting the quality of testing.


In European countries, certification is usually carried out centrally. In the UK, VCA has this function. This involves:

  • the issue of certificates which allocate the official GB mark on the basis of successful test reports;
  • the maintenance of such certificates, e.g.  modifying them on the basis of a further test report, withdrawing them should the holder go out of business, taking account of developments, etc;
  • development and publication of the test procedures for each form of packaging which must be followed by all approved test stations.  The procedures amplify and interpret the provisions of the regulations and are updated periodically to take account of amendments in the regulations and experience. Additionally, procedures are developed and published on aspects such as ‘selective testing’, i.e. establishing a range of similar packaging types from which samples can be selected and, provided all the tests are successful, certified as a range;
  • servicing test stations, so that they have the necessary data to select samples and carry out tests effectively as well as advising their clients on the relevance of the tests and significance of the GB mark;
  • receiving queries on GB marked packagings and taking appropriate action;
  • allocating symbols which reconditioners may apply to packagings they have reconditioned.

These functions are carried out under the general and specific direction of the authorities and are subject to review by them. Certificates and test reports are public documents except for those issued to the MOD.