Type Approval and the Protocol on Northern IrelandThis page was last updated on 2nd March 2023
- In line with the Northern Ireland Protocol as agreed in the Withdrawal
Agreement, certain EU rules continue to apply in Northern Ireland. This includes the type approval regulations listed in the Northern Ireland Protocol (Annex 2, sections 9 & 14) as listed at the end of this document. All type approvals used for sale and registration in Northern Ireland must comply with the relevant EU legislation.
- There are different requirements for selling goods in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. There are also specific facilitations available regarding the GB market if you are a Northern Ireland business placing ‘qualifying Northern Ireland goods’ on the market.. This guidance sets out the type approval regime that applies in Northern Ireland in accordance with the Northern Ireland Protocol. For general guidance on GB type approval, please consult this guidance page.
1.Sale and registration in Northern Ireland
The obligations on type approval applied by the Northern Ireland (‘NI’)Protocol are implemented by the Road Vehicles and Non-Road Mobile
Machinery (Type Approval) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. The purpose of this Statutory Instrument is to ensure that NI continues to apply the EU type approval regime and that vehicles and products that qualify for unfettered access can continue to be sold and registered in Great Britain (‘GB’ – Wales, Scotland and England) without further approvals.
The Northern Ireland Protocol came into force from 1 January 2021. For as long as it is in force, NI will align with relevant EU rules relating to the placing on the market of manufactured goods. You can check which EU rules apply in Annex 1 below. There are several ways to approve a product for placement on the market in NI.
Manufacturers with EU type approvals
Manufacturers with a valid ECWVTA (European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval) from an EU Member State, EU component approval, or ECSSTA (European Community Small Series Type Approval) can use these for sale and registration in NI. Goods which are “qualifying Northern Ireland goods” may be placed on the GB market with these approvals in line with unfettered access (See below).
Manufacturers with UK type approvals
Manufacturers who have a National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA) issued before January 2021 by the UK’s type approval authority, the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), can continue to use them throughout the UK. These approvals will continue to follow EU rules.
Manufacturers bringing new types to market who wish to use UK type approval processes (i.e. have not sought EU type approvals as above) must apply to the VCA for a “UKNI” approval to access the NI market. This type approval will be issued in compliance with EU regulations.
Goods which are “qualifying Northern Ireland goods” may use this UKNI approval for placing goods on the GB market as well. Initially, all goods will also be able to use “UKNI” approvals in both markets, but this will be subject to any future developments in the GB regulatory regime.
Approvals issued by VCA to EU regulations for use in NI will not be recognised by EU Member States.
Manufacturers with UNECE type approvals
UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) type approvals are internationally recognised approvals and continue to be accepted in the UK, (NI and GB) and EU markets. There is no need for holders of these approvals to obtain additional approvals to place products on the market in the UK.
Manufacturers with UK issued ‘e11’ Approvals
EU approvals, issued by the VCA before January 2021 and not subsequently transferred to an EU approval authority remain valid throughout the UK (both NI and GB). They are deemed “UKNI” approvals and no change to documentation is needed. These approvals will need to be updated on an ongoing basis to maintain compliance with the latest EU rules on type approval.
In addition to the approval marks required by the relevant type approval regulations, some vehicles and products placed on the market in Northern Ireland need an additional label if the approval was granted by the VCA.
This applies to vehicles with existing ‘e11’ approvals issued before January 2021 and vehicles approved by the VCA to EU rules from January 2021, which are “UKNI” approvals.
The label must show the letters ‘UKNI’ and be placed on or adjacent to the statutory plate.
VCA issued national small series approvals do not require the UKNI label.
Selling into the EU
As described in our other guidance, any manufacturer (irrespective of their location) wishing to sell products on the EU market will need a valid EU type approval, issued by the type approval authority of an EU Member State..
2.Sale and registration in Great Britain for ‘qualifying Northern Ireland goods’
Unfettered access applies to qualifying Northern Ireland goods imported to the rest of the UK.
NI businesses (i.e. manufacturers and converters based in Northern Ireland) moving ‘qualifying Northern Ireland goods’ may continue to use a single approval process – whether EU type approvals or the ‘UKNI’ approval via the VCA – to place qualifying Northern Ireland goods on the NI and GB markets.
Qualifying Northern Ireland Goods
The Definition of Qualifying Northern Ireland Goods (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 define qualifying Northern Ireland goods as goods that:
- are present in Northern Ireland and are not subject to any customs supervision, restriction or control, or
- are NI processed
This definition will apply during the first phase of unfettered access. It will be superseded during the course of 2021 with a definition focusing its benefits more specifically on Northern Ireland businesses. Further guidance will be issued at that point.
- I’m a manufacturer based in NI who only produces a small number of a) trailers b) I don’t want to export to the EU but I do sell into GB and NI. Right now I have a National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA) issued by VCA. What will I need in the future?
As you are a manufacturer in NI, you can continue using your current NSSTA to sell in NI. EU rules will continue to apply to your NSSTA approval. You will be able to use this approval in the rest of the UK through unfettered access.
- I’m a manufacturer based in England who only produces a small number of
- a) trailers b) I don’t want to export to the EU but I do sell into the rest of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Right now I have an NSSTA issued by VCA. What will I need in the future?
Your NSSTA approval is valid in both NI and GB as the same rules apply. If, in the future, there are differences between GB and EU technical requirements for NSSTA you may need two approvals, a UKNI and a GB NSSTA. These will be issued by the VCA.
- b) I’m a manufacturer based in NI. I currently have an EC Small Series Type Approval (ECSSTA), so what do I need to do to continue selling in both NI and GB?
As you are a manufacturer in NI, you can use your current ECSSTA to sell in NI. You will still be able to use this approval in the rest of the UK through unfettered access.
- I’m a Japanese manufacturer. I have EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA). I sell throughout the UK (both NI and GB). What are my options?
You will need a provisional GB type approval to sell vehicles in GB. Your current ECWVTA can be used for vehicles sold and registered in NI. Further information on the provisional approval scheme can be found on VCA’s website.
Protocol on Northern Ireland
The following extract from Annex 2 of the Northern Ireland Protocol lists the EU type approval requirements that will continue to apply in NI. The full text of the Northern Ireland Protocol can be found here.
Section 9: Motor vehicles, including agricultural and forestry tractors
-Council Directive 70/157/EEC of 6 February 1970 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the permissible sound level and the exhaust system of motor vehicles46
- Regulation (EU) No 540/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on the sound level of motor vehicles and of replacement silencing systems, and amending Directive 2007/46/EC and repealing Directive 70/157/EEC47
- Directive 2005/64/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on the type-approval of motor vehicles with regard to their reusability, recyclability and recoverability and amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC48
-Directive 2006/40/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 relating to emissions from air conditioning systems in motor vehicles and amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC49
- Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2007 on type approval of motor vehicles with respect to emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information50
- Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 September 2007 establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles (Framework Directive)51
- Regulation (EU) 2018/858 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, amending Regulations (EC) No 715/2007 and (EC) No 595/2009 and repealing Directive 2007/46/EC52
- Regulation (EC) No 78/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on the type-approval of motor vehicles with regard to the protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, amending Directive 2007/46/EC and repealing Directives 2003/102/EC and 2005/66/EC53
- Regulation (EC) No 661/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefor54
- Regulation (EC) No 79/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on type-approval of hydrogen-powered motor vehicles, and amending Directive 2007/46/EC55
- Regulation (EC) No 595/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on type-approval of motor vehicles and engines with respect to emissions from heavy duty vehicles (Euro VI) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information and amending Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 and Directive 2007/46/EC and repealing Directives 80/1269/EEC, 2005/55/EC and 2005/78/EC56
- Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2013 on the approval and market surveillance of two- or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles57
- Regulation (EU) 2015/758 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 concerning type-approval requirements for the deployment of the eCall in-vehicle system based on the 112 service and amending Directive 2007/46/EC58
- Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 setting emissions performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles59
- Regulation (EU) No 510/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2011 setting emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles60
-Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 on machinery, and amending Directive 95/16/EC81
- Regulation (EU) 2016/1628 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 September 2016 on requirements relating to gaseous and particulate pollutant emission limits and type-approval for internal combustion engines for non-road mobile machinery, amending Regulations (EU) No 1024/2012 and (EU) No 167/2013, and amending and repealing Directive 97/68/EC82
- Directive 2000/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the noise emission in the environment by equipment for use outdoors83