What is Vehicle Type Approval?

This page was last updated on 3rd November 2022

Vehicle Type Approval is the confirmation that production samples of a type of vehicle, vehicle system, component or separate technical unit will meet specified performance standards. It can be demonstrated through type approval markings (‘e’ or ‘E’ marks) applied to products by the manufacturer, and in the case of vehicles approved under the GB, UK(NI) or EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) schemes, by a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) issued by the manufacturer. In the case of UN International Whole Vehicle Type Approval (IWVTA) a Declaration of Conformity (DoC) is 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). 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).

CoP is a fundamental cornerstone of type approval and type approval cannot be issued without CoP. Learn more about Conformity of Production.

The legislative instruments which govern automotive 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.

In the UK, the 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 GB, UK(NI) and United Nations (UN) schemes.

As the UK Type Approval Authority, the Vehicle Certification Agency is responsible for issuing UK type approvals on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport under the GB, UK(NI) and UN  type approval schemes.

The Vehicle Certification Agency has its own in-house Technical Service which can undertake type approval testing for GB, UK(NI) and UN regulations.

If you would like to find out more about type approval and the services VCA can offer, please visit our contact us page

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

Vehicle Type Category
Motorcycles Category L
Passenger Vehicles Category M
Goods Vehicles Category N
Trailers Category O
Agricultural Vehicles Category T, C, R & S
Non-road Mobile Machinery Various engine categories

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

Learn more about Type Approval category definitions There are several routes to approval available and depending on your chosen market, you will need to ensure that you select the right option.

As applied within the UK and Northern Ireland, four systems of type approval exist:

Approval Type Details
UK(NI) Type Approval For all categories, for use within Northern Ireland and Great Britain
Provisional GB Type Approval For all categories, for use within Great Britain
GB Type Approval For categories M, N, O, for use within Great Britain
United Nations Type Approval Primarily for systems, components and separate technical units, for use in global markets of UNECE 1958 Agreement Contracting Parties

European Union Type Approval

European Union (EU) legislation 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.

EU type approvals must be granted by the Approval Authority of an EU member state, but VCA can assist with queries relating to these regulations and VCA Europe S.r.l. are a designated Technical Service of several EU member states.

As there are two systems of type approval used in Europe (the UN type approval framework is also utilised), EU type approvals 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 in a rectangle;

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 system.