Technical harmonisation in the EU

Technical harmonisation in the EU

Technical harmonisation in the EU is based on the Whole Vehicle Type-Approval System (WVTA). Under the WVTA, a manufacturer can obtain certification for a vehicle type in one EU country and market it EU-wide without further tests. The certification is issued by a type-approval authority and the tests are carried out by the designated technical services.

The legal basis

Directive 2007/46/EC sets out the safety and environmental requirements that motor vehicles have to comply with before being placed on the EU market. The Directive makes the EU-WVTA system mandatory for all categories of motor vehicles and their trailers. A large number of UNECE regulations are also made mandatory. These replace 38 Directives previously in force.

Review of Directive 2007/46/EC

The Commission is proposing a major overhaul of the EU type-approval framework for motor vehicles. Under current rules, national authorities are solely responsible for certifying that a vehicle meets all requirements to be placed on the market and for policing manufacturers' compliance with EU law. The proposal for a new Regulation, adopted by the Commission on 27 January 2016, will make vehicle testing more independent and increase surveillance of cars already in circulation. Once the draft Regulation has been adopted by the European Parliament and Council, it will be directly applicable and will repeal and replace Directive 2007/46/EC. Read more

National type-approval authorities

National approval authorities must send a copy of the vehicle type-approval certificate for each approved, refused, or withdrawn vehicle type to the approval authorities in other EU countries.

The Directive requires EU countries to take measures at two stages:

  • before granting type-approval - the approval authority must verify that the type of vehicle complies with the safety and environmental requirements, and that production is in conformity with the rules;
  • after having granted type-approval - the approval authority must verify that the conformity of the manufacturer’s production arrangements continue to be adequate.

See the list of national type approval authorities (85 kB)

Certificate of conformity (CoC)

A certificate of conformity is a statement by the manufacturer that the vehicle conforms to EU type-approval requirements. EU countries cannot refuse to register vehicles if they are accompanied by a valid CoC that proves their compliance with EU law. The Commission has proposed simpler rules for the motor vehicle registration of a car already registered on one EU country to be registered in another.

Technical services

A technical service is an organisation or a body designated by the national approval authority as a:

  • testing laboratory to carry out tests; or as a
  • conformity assessment body to carry out the initial assessment and other tests or inspections on behalf of the approval authority.

EU countries have to notify the Commission of the name and details of designated technical services for:

The lists of technical services for each EU country are available here.