What is Vehicle Type Approval?

This page was last updated on 5th March 2020

VCA is the designated UK Approval Authority and Technical Service for type approval to all automotive European Union (EU) instruments and the equivalent United Nations Economic Community for Europe (ECE) Regulations.

Please click on the relevant link below for more specific information by vehicle type approval, and ways in which VCA can help you.

Vehicle Type Approval is the confirmation that production samples of a type of vehicle, vehicle system, component or Separate Technical Unit (STU) will meet specified performance standards. It can be demonstrated through type approval markings (‘E’ or ‘e’ marks) applied to products by the manufacturer according to which scheme is applied (United nations (UN) or European Union (EU) respectively), and in the case of vehicles approved under the EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval scheme (WVTA), by a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) issued by the manufacturer.

The process involves the oversight of the selection and testing of samples, the documentation of the specification, and the evaluation of the measures in place by the manufacturer to ensure Conformity of Production (CoP).

CoP is an integral part of the type approval process and involves the evaluation of the manufacturing processes to ensure that each product is manufactured in accordance with the approved specification. If a formal quality system is in place, such as ISO 9001 or ISO/TS 16949, the level of CoP inspection may be reduced.

The specification of the product is recorded during the type approval process and only that particular specification is approved.

Vehicle Certification Agency is the designated UK Type Approval Authority for automotive products and also a designated Technical Service for type approval testing in the UN scheme and the EU scheme until the end of the Transition Period.

As the UK Type Approval Authority, Vehicle Certification Agency has responsibility to issue UK type approvals on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport under the UN, EU  and the UK type approval schemes.

Vehicle Certification Agency has its own in-house Technical Service which can undertake type approval testing for all UN and EU instruments.

Type approval is available for different kinds of vehicles, systems, components and STUs;

These categories are further subdivided into subcategories generally defined by the size or weight of the vehicle. However, there are exceptions, vehicles of Category M are subdivided by the number of seating positions, and in larger vehicles, the weight.

As applied within Europe, two systems of type approval exist:

European Union Type Approval

One system is based around European Union (EU) instruments and provides for the type approval of whole vehicles, vehicle systems, components and separate technical units. This harmonises the standards for vehicles which are to be placed on the market, sold, registered or entered into service in the EU. Member States appoint an Approval Authority and EU type approvals may be granted by the Approval Authority.

As there are two systems of type approval used in Europe, to distinguish between them these are sometimes known as ‘little e’ approvals. This is derived from the fact that products marked in accordance with the EU requirements may bear an EU approval mark characterised by having a lower case ‘e’, followed by a number corresponding to the issuing Member State, surrounded by a rectangle.

e11 logo

and the type approval numbers written on the type approval certificates themselves and on CoCs and other associated documents have a lower case ‘e’ as part of the type approval numbering.

United Nations Type Approval

The other system is based around United Nations (UN) Regulations (formerly known as UNECE Regulations) and provides primarily for the type approval of vehicle systems, components and separate technical units. These are sometimes known as ‘big E’ approvals. This is derived from the fact that products marked in accordance with the UN requirements may bear an international approval marking, characterised by having an upper case ‘E’ followed by a number corresponding to the issuing Contracting Party surrounded by a circle. A country may accede to UN Regulations and when they do so they become a Contracting Party, the country may appoint an Approval Authority and UN type approvals may be granted by the Approval Authority.

E11 logo

Since the adoption of UN Regulation 0 an International Whole Vehicle Type Approval (IWVTA) is available for vehicles of M1 category (only). This cannot be used for registering M1 vehicles in the EU.

The legislative instruments which govern automotive in both EU and UN type approval schemes require third party approval – testing, certification and production conformity assessment by an independent body. A country may appoint an Approval Authority to issue the approvals and a Technical Service to carry out the testing to the relevant legislative instruments. An approval issued by one Authority will be accepted in all the countries which participate in the approval scheme.

In both cases EU and UN type approval is the confirmation that production samples of a design will meet specified performance standards. The specification of the product is recorded and only that specification is approved. A prerequisite of type approval is that the manufacturer has appropriate measures in place to ensure that production samples will continue to meet the performance requirements as the products originally examined, this is known as Conformity of Production (CoP).

Transition Period – after 31 January 2020

The following section is to provide industry and other stakeholders with information concerning the type approval of vehicles, their components and non-road mobile machinery during the Transition Period.

The Government has published guidance to help businesses, citizens and consumers which can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/transition

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vehicle-type-approval-if-theres-no-brexit-deal

During the Transition Period the EU type approval legislation will still apply to and in the UK up until 1 January 2021. Therefore, the VCA will continue to act as an EU Technical Service and EU Type Approval Authority. This means that the VCA can continue to issue EU approvals (‘e11’) and they will continue to be accepted in the EU.

It should be noted that UNECE type approvals are not affected in any case; all products (systems and components) with type approval and markings in accordance with UNECE type approval regulations will continue to be accepted by both EU and UK. The VCA will continue to be able to issue approvals in accordance with UNECE regulations (‘E11’).

It should also be noted that UK National Small Series Type Approvals (NSSTA) for vehicles remain valid. The current UK IVA and MSVA schemes will also continue.

Regarding the previously proposed Provisional UK Type Approval Scheme, the VCA will be keeping the ShareFile system open during this year and retain the information you may have previously submitted.

We will be on hand to support you if you have any questions. You can contact us via ukta@vca.gov.uk