National Type Approval in the UK

This page was last updated on 9th February 2021

This guidance is aimed at manufacturers or importers wishing to sell vehicles, and/or systems and components into Great Britain (GB) and Northern Ireland (NI).

In the United Kingdom there are separate provisions for Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a consequence of the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Under these terms Northern Ireland remains subject to EU type approval regulations, the approvals will be known as UK(NI) to distinguish them from EU member States’ approvals.

The UK type approval regulations cover both Great Britain and Northern Ireland but apply differently in each.

The regulations are;

New type approvals are available for all categories of vehicles under these national regulations – in conjunction with;

1) retained EU legislation in the case of GB approvals, or

2) directly applicable EU Regulations in the case of UK(NI) approvals.

Existing VCA approvals will be treated as UK(NI) approvals under the same legislation going forward, although it will be possible for holders of these existing approvals to request a GB approval for the same type – which will be considered an existing type.

These approvals have different validity;

  • Vehicles with UK(NI) approval can currently be distributed in the whole of the UK
  • Vehicles with GB approval can be distributed in GB only

VCA continues to operate as the United Kingdom Type Approval Authority under the two legal regimes that apply in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and can issue certificates under each. (The location of a manufacturer does not affect their eligibility for either scheme).

What kinds of scheme are available?

Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) is for manufacturers selling larger volumes and capable of meeting the full GB specifications or full EU specifications for Northern Ireland.

Some manufacturers of specialist cars or light goods vehicles who find some elements of the full type approval specifications too costly may benefit from using the Small Series (1500) scheme which allows production of 1500 vehicles per type (available for categories M1 and N1 only).

National small series (NSSTA) is for those who produce modest numbers of vehicles.

The key advantages of the NSSTA schemes is that demonstrating compliance with some technical requirements is simplified, which will have an impact on the costs associated with the approval process, and the Conformity of Production (CoP) requirements will be appropriate and proportionate to the scale of your operation. However, you will be limited to the number of vehicles you can manufacture in a given calendar year, and the restrictions of the geographic cover of the approval: i.e. GB only, for GB approvals, or both GB and Northern Ireland for UK(NI) approvals.

Which approval should I go for – UK(NI) or GB?

If you hold a WVTA issued by an EU-27 member State or EU Small Series Type approval, then you can use that in Northern Ireland, but not in GB. So, in this case you should apply to VCA for Provisional GB Type Approval to enable vehicle sales in GB. However, EU type approvals for category O (trailers) will be accepted in GB during 2021.

Manufacturers in Northern Ireland may also be able to use their EU type approvals to sell into Great Britain if their products qualify for unfettered access.

For manufacturers not holding an EU type approval you should first consider the kind of approval that suits your business. Currently a UK(NI) approval will allow you to sell into both GB and NI. Some manufacturers might also need a GB approval, for example if the production volumes permitted under the UK(NI) NSSTA scheme are insufficient or if you produce vehicles over 4m height. If you are certain that you only wish to sell vehicles in Great Britain then GB approval alone may be suitable.

I hold an e11 approval with VCA – what is happening to that?

EU WVTA for all categories or EU Small Series or UK NSSTA which were issued before 1 January 2021 by VCA with an approval number beginning with;

  • e11*…
  • e11*KS07/46*…
  • e11*KS18/858*
  • e11*NKS*…
  • e11*NKS18/858*…

are deemed as UK(NI) approvals and are valid throughout the UK (both Great Britain and Northern Ireland) but not in any of the EU member States.

The e11 part of the type approval number is kept, and the type approval must remain aligned with any changes in EU type approval legislation (as required by the Northern Ireland Protocol).

Small Series (former EU small series) approvals:

for M1 and N1 vehicles with approval numbers beginning with;

  • e11*KS07/46*…
  • e11* KS18/858*…

the numerical limits remain as 1500 per calendar year for these approvals, these vehicles can be registered in GB or NI.

The numerical limits for e11 UK(NI) NSSTA approvals are those outlined below.

Vehicle Systems, Components and Separate Technical Units

Until at least January 2022, EU approvals for vehicle systems, components and separate technical units will continue to be valid across UK and so, currently, there are no requirements to obtain UK National Type Approval for vehicle systems, components and separate technical units. However, the UK(NI) versions of these approvals are available upon request.

Northern Ireland – UK(NI)

Valid EU type approvals are the principal means of demonstrating compliance with EU type approval requirements as they are applied in Northern Ireland.

For manufacturers not holding EU type approvals, a full suite of UK(NI) approvals are available, described below.

UK(NI) whole vehicle type approval and small series (1500) approvals

These UK(NI) Type Approvals may be issued by VCA and will have approval numbers beginning with n11*…

All vehicles destined for Northern Ireland with a UK(NI) Whole Vehicle Type Approval or Small Series (1500) Type Approval are required to have a UK(NI) sticker/marking on or near the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate.

New applications for either the UK(NI) WVTA or UK(NI) SSTA (for M1 and N1 only) have to follow the EU WVTA and SSTA requirements in the latest EU regulations.

UK(NI) approvals are currently valid across the UK but will not be accepted on the EU market.

UK(NI) National Small Series Type Approval

New Small Series Type Approvals may be issued by VCA and will have approval numbers beginning with;

  • n11*NKS18/858*…

Extensions to existing e11 approvals will also be available.

UK(NI) National Small Series Limits

1. All vehicles regardless of height:

Category Limit until 31 August 2020 Limit until 31 December 2020 Limit for calendar year 2021 Limit for calendar years 2022, 2023
M1 100 250* 250 250
N1 250 250 250
O1, O2 500 500 500

*including the up to 100 built on or before 31 August

 

2. Vehicles exceeding 4m high (type solely consists of vehicle exceeding 4m high) and type existing prior to 31 August, issued under 2007/46/EC (e11*NKS*):

Category Limit for calendar year 2020 Limit for calendar year 2021 Limit for calendar year 2022 Limit for calendar year 2023
M2, M3 1000 1000 1000 1000
N2, N3 1200 1200 1200 1200
O3, O4 2000 2000 2000 2000

 

3. Vehicles below 4m high; or a mixture (type may include vehicles exceeding 4m high); or a type consisting solely of vehicles above 4m high which was issued under 2018/858 (e11*NKS18/858*):

Category Limit for calendar year 2020 Limit for calendar year 2021 Limit for calendar year 2022
M2, M3, N2, N3, O3, O4 250 250 250

Great Britain – GB

In GB there are three main schemes;

  • Provisional GB Type Approval
  • GB WVTA (based on retained regulations)
    • GB Small series Type Approval (for categories M1 and N1 only)
  • GB National Small Series Type Approval (for categories M, N & O)

Additionally, e11 approvals which existed prior to 1 January 2021 will continue to be valid in GB, but will be deemed as UK(NI) approvals.

It should be noted that GB approvals are not acceptable in Northern Ireland, whereas UK(NI) approvals are currently accepted in GB.

Provisional GB Type Approval

This covers complete or completed motor vehicles which are registered for use on the roads in Great Britain, for further details follow the link to Provisional GB Type Approval

GB WVTA (based on retained regulations)

Manufacturers can apply for GB Whole Vehicle Type Approvals (GB WVTA) based on the retained regulations for;

Motorcycles Category L
Passenger Vehicles Category M
Goods Vehicles Category N
Trailers Category O
Tractors Category T

GB Type Approvals issued by VCA and will have approval numbers beginning with g11*…

However, these vehicles will only be able to be placed on the market in GB.

Motor Vehicles and Trailers Over 4m in Height

GB WVTA will be available for vehicles over 4m in height, there will be no limits on numbers produced as the height limit has been removed from the retained EU legislation. These can be obtained on the basis of a former e11, now UK(NI), WVTA or derived from an EU approval.

GB Approval from existing e11 approval

Holders of e11 approvals issued before January 2021 (now deemed UK(NI) approvals) may choose to obtain, in addition, a GB type approval based on the existing UK(NI) approval.  This will be a new approval but it will not be classed as a new type. It will allow manufacturers to sell more vehicles in the UK. The GB limits are temporarily higher during 2021 to assist following the transition period while manufacturers decide their future strategies.

  • Vehicles with UK(NI) approval can be distributed in the whole of the UK according to the limits in Regulation (EU) 2018/858
  • Vehicles with GB approval can be distributed in GB only, according to the limits in The Road Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2020 (Statutory Instrument 2020 No. 818 (as amended))

Limits for vehicles produced per type each year:

GB NSSTA

1. All vehicles regardless of height:

Category Limit for calendar year 2021 Limit for calendar year 2022 Limit for calendar year 2023
M1 1000 250 250
N1 1000 250 250
O1, O2 1000 500 500

 

2. Vehicles exceeding 4m high (type solely consists of vehicle exceeding 4m high) which were originally approved as e11 NKS under 2007/46/EC (continuation of the same type) and migrated across to the GB scheme on or after 1 Jan 2021: g11*NKS* only.

Category Limit for calendar year 2021 Limit for calendar year 2022 Limit for calendar year 2023
M2,M3 1000 1000 1000
N2, N3 1200 1200 1200
O3, O4 2000 2000 2000

 

3. Any other vehicle: below 4m high or a mixture of above/below 4m, or type issued under 2018/858:

Category Limit for calendar year 2021 Limit for calendar year 2022 Limit for calendar year 2023
M2, M3, N2, N3, O3, O4 500 250 250

As with ECWVTA the manufacturer will be responsible for the issue of Certificates of Conformity – but within the limited numbers set out in the relevant legislation.