EC type-approval system for motor vehicles

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EC type-approval system for motor vehicles

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EC type-approval system for motor vehicles


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Internal market > Motor vehicles > Technical implications of road safety

EC type-approval system for motor vehicles

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 September 2007 establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles.


The European Union (EU) is revising the system of EC type-approval for motor vehicles. The Directive retains (in revised form) the majority of the provisions of Directive 70/156/EEC and also introduces some entirely new concepts and requirements. It repeals and replaces Directive 70/156/EEC in order to have a clearer, more coherent text based on the principle of proportionality.


The requirement for EC type-approval for access to the internal market used to apply to private cars, motorcycles, mopeds and agricultural tractors. The European Union is extending this system to all categories of motor vehicles designed and constructed in one or more stages for use on the road and also to the systems, components and separate technical units designed and constructed for such vehicles. More precisely, the Directive is aimed at commercial vehicles (vans, lorries, semi-trailers, trailers), buses and coaches.

Type-approval system

The EC type-approval system is the only system in place for ensuring permanent monitoring of the conformity of output. Type-approval is based on the principle that manufacturers must issue a certificate of conformity for each vehicle manufactured, attesting that it conforms to the approved type. The manufacturer can opt for one of the following procedures: step-by-step type-approval *, single-step type-approval * or mixed type-approval *.

The Directive introduces a new EC type-approval method known as “multi-stage type-approval”. Each manufacturer involved in manufacturing a vehicle will fill in the part of the certificate relating to its own stage. The aim of this is to adapt the process to the specific nature of commercial vehicle manufacturing. The multi-stage procedure will generally involve two steps:

  • firstly, the initial manufacturer will obtain type-approval for a chassis (including the engine, wheels, shock absorbers, brakes, etc.) and a first EC type-approval certificate will be issued;
  • subsequently, the second manufacturer will assemble the bodywork and present the finished vehicle for type-approval. Where the same manufacturer is responsible for both chassis and bodywork, the vehicle may be type-approved using the time-honoured procedure for passenger cars.

The Directive is based on the principle of total harmonisation. EC type-approval procedures are compulsory and replace the national procedures with which they have co-existed up until now. The type-approval process is therefore noticeably simplified for manufacturers. It is enough for one Member State to type-approve a vehicle in order for all vehicles of that type to be registered throughout the Community solely on the basis of their certificate of conformity.

Improving road safety and environmental protection

The Directive aims to improve road safety by making a number of devices compulsory. These include ABS (anti-lock braking system), new and more effective rear-view mirrors (including the new front rear-view mirror), improved lights, side protection to prevent cyclists or pedestrians from being dragged under vehicles and anti-spray devices.

Furthermore, it lays down additional requirements for buses and coaches (emergency exits must be adapted to the number of people which the vehicle can hold, greater ease of access for persons with reduced mobility, sufficient “survival space” in the event of the vehicle rolling over etc.).

The Directive also focuses on various environmental obligations such as CO2 emissions, fuel consumption, engine power and smoke from diesel engines.


The provisions of the proposal will be implemented from 2009 and will be phased in gradually until 2014, depending on the category of vehicle. The aim of the transition periods is to enable the industry to gradually adapt its production systems to the new requirements and enable governments to deal progressively with the increased number of requests for type-approval.


Since 1970, Directive 70/156/EEC has been the main legal instrument for implementing the single market in the motor vehicle sector. It has been amended many times in order to keep pace with this sector’s constant development. It therefore seemed appropriate to increase its clarity by recasting it. Doing so also provides an opportunity to extend the scope of the established principles to new categories of motor vehicles.

The first stage of the revision, Directive 2001/116/EC, put in place the technical provisions needed for the practical implementation of the type-approval of commercial vehicles. This Directive marks the second stage of the revision of Directive 70/156/EEC.

Key terms of the act
  • Step-by-step type-approval: a vehicle-approval procedure consisting in the step-by-step collection of the whole set of EC type-approval certificates for the systems, components and separate technical units relating to the vehicle, and which leads, at the final stage, to the approval of the whole vehicle.
  • Single-step type-approval: a procedure consisting in the approval of a vehicle as a whole by means of a single operation.
  • Mixed type-approval: a step-by-step type-approval procedure for which one or more system approvals are achieved during the final stage of the approval of the whole vehicle, without it being necessary to issue the EC type-approval certificates for those systems.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2007/46/EC



OJ L 263, 9.10.2007

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2007/46/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purpose only.


Annex IV – List of requirements for the purpose of EC type-approval of vehicles
Commission Regulation (EU) No 183/2011 [Official Journal L 53 of 26.2.2011].

Annex VI
Commission Regulation (EU) No 183/2011 [Official Journal L 53 of 26.2.2011].

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