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Within Europe, two systems of type approval have been in existence for over 20 years. One is based around EC Directives and provides for the approval of whole vehicles, vehicle systems, and separate components. The other is based around United Nations (UN) Regulations (formerly known as UNECE Regulations) and provides for approval of vehicle systems and separate components, but not whole vehicles.

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.

Automotive EC Directives and UN Regulations require third party approval - testing, certification and production conformity assessment by an independent body. Each Member State is required to appoint an Approval Authority to issue the approvals and a Technical Service to carry out the testing to the Directives and Regulations. An approval issued by one Authority will be accepted in all the Member States.

VCA is the designated UK Approval Authority and a Technical Service for all type approvals to automotive EC Directives and most UN Regulations.

European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA)

EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) is based around EC Directives and provides for the approval of whole vehicles, in addition to vehicle systems and separate components.  This certification is accepted throughout the EU without the need for further testing until a standard is updated or your design changes.

Low volume/Small Series Manufacturers

Full EC whole vehicle type approval (ECWVTA) won't suit everyone, particularly those manufacturing vehicles in low numbers.  In recognition of this fact there are a number of other approval routes available, including:

European Community Small Series Type Approval (EC SSTA)

EC Small Series Type Approval) has been created for low volume car producers only, and like full ECWVTA will allow Europe wide sales but with technical and administrative requirements that are more adapted to smaller businesses.

National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA)

(National Small Series Type Approval) is a UK national scheme for low volume manufacturers who intend to sell only in the UK. The advantages of NSSTA are relaxed technical requirements for some subjects, a more pragmatic approach to the Conformity of Production (CoP) requirements, and reduction in administrative requirements. Like ECWVTA, once the design is approved, individual vehicles do not need to be tested.

Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA)

Individual Vehicle Approval is a UK national scheme and the most likely route for those manufacturing or importing single vehicles or very small numbers. IVA does not require CoP as it is based on inspection of each vehicle, although most bodybuilders and converters will work with manufacturers to ensure there is no warranty compromise.
Under IVA, vehicles have to be inspected by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in Great Britain or the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland.

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