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Historically, some European Member States have operated their own set of national requirements for goods vehicles.  However, Directive 2007/46/EC, as amended, introduced a European wide certification scheme for these  vehicles, which is currently being phased in.  Existing national arrangements will apply until the application dates outlined below.  The key application dates are:


ECWVTA application dates for Goods Vehicles

Category New Type
New Type
Existing Type

N1 - Incomplete and Complete 

29th April 2009 

29th October 2010 

29th October 2011

N1 - Completed 

29th April 2009 

29th October 2011 

29th April 2013

N2 and N3 Incomplete and Complete 

29th April 2009 

29th October 2010 

29th October 2012

N2 and N3 Completed 

29th April 2009 

29th October 2012 

29th October 2014

N1, N2 and N3 - Special Purpose 

29th April 2009 

29th October 2012 

29th October 2014

Some of the terminology used in the table above may be unfamiliar. Vehicle category definitions and a glossary of frequently used terms may be accessed using the links below.

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 particular specification is approved.

Automotive EC Directives and UN Regulations (formerly known as UNECE 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.

Routes to certification

Until the relevant application date for your particular vehicle category (outlined above), existing national arrangements will be in place. 

However, where a vehicle is converted (possibly as an intermediate stage in a multi-stage build process) there are some circumstances where an approval may be needed to cover this conversion ahead of the relevant date. For example; where an axle is added (e.g. to convert a 2 axle tractor into a 3 axle tractor) it will not be possible to register the vehicle on the original Certificate of Conformity (it will state the vehicle has 2 axles and so won’t be valid for a vehicle with 3 axles). 

Once the relevant application date applies, the following routes to certification will be available to you:

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:

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 normally require CoP (unless in conjunction with the N1 Enhancements Scheme outlined below) 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 & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in Great Britain or the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland.

N1 Enhancement scheme

This scheme will remain in the current format until 31st December 2020. That is unless as part of a review appropriate changes are identified. Any changes will be communicated on this page.

To cater for certain vehicles which are modified before registration such as panel vans and some pick-up trucks) VCA has developed the “N1 Enhancements Scheme” which is a light touch way of ensuring compliance with the national regulations.

It is for the enterprise that is making the modifications to determine for itself whether the modifications cause the vehicle to need to a new approval. In the [Adobe PDF document N1 Enhancements Scheme (PDF 972.6KB) ] document VCA has provided guidance with links to appropriate parts of the legislation to help enterprises in their decision process.

If a decision is made to the effect that a further approval is not required then no action need be taken, although it would be a good idea for an enterprise to record the rationale behind this decision in case they need to rely on it in any future discussions with customers, etc.  In these cases VCA has no role and cannot provide any documentation (other than the N1 Enhancements Scheme document) to support enterprises in their discussions with customers.

If the enterprise decides it does need an approval for a vehicle VCA has provided a ‘light touch’ scheme which will enable an enterprise to apply for, and receive, an IVA through a mainly administrative process. The scheme is open to enterprises with CoP Clearance from VCA. To get CoP Clearance an enterprise will need to demonstrate that they have suitable processes, controls and documentation. They will also need to submit a vehicle for inspection to show that the measures outlined above are robust and produce vehicles in compliance with the required standard.

To apply to use the scheme complete both of the application forms below;

  • the first will start the process of gaining CoP Clearance where this is not already in place.
  • the second will be to receive a job number in order to obtain the enhancement report

Important note

Applications for the N1 Enhancement Scheme should only be made by ‘enterprises’ that are responsible for complete enhancement process.  Typically this would be:

  • A commercial bodybuilder
  • A motor dealer

Applications from businesses or companies who only perform part of the Enhancement process will generally be unsuccessful – for example, mobile installers of equipment – as they generally do not have overall responsibility for the whole process.  Often in such cases, these enterprises are sub-contracted by a dealer to do part of the enhancement work and the vehicle may well be further enhanced by other companies prior to registration. Therefore in such cases there is often no certainty that the application covers the entire modification.

In such cases the way forward for suppliers of such goods and services is to reach an agreement with the enterprise in overall control of the Enhancement process (most likely a dealer). This agreement could take the form of a commitment from a supplier to meet the supplier verification requirements in the dealer’s Quality Management System. For example - according to clause 7.4.1 of ISO9001:2015;

“The organization shall evaluate and select suppliers based on their ability to supply product in accordance with the organization's requirements.”

A CoP audit process may verify the effectiveness of such arrangements in meeting the requirements of ISO 9001:2015, but other than that these are commercial matters which are of no concern to VCA, so dealers and their suppliers should negotiate these matters to suit themselves.

Adobe PDF document Customer Account Application Form (PDF 780.8KB)*

Adobe PDF document Application to open a new job number (PDF 3MB)

* Customers in North America should contact us here to make an application, or for further information:

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