Help Print this page 

Summaries of EU Legislation

Title and reference
Motor vehicles — EU type-approval system

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
Multilingual display

Motor vehicles — EU type-approval system


Directive 2007/46/EC establishing a framework for the type approval of motor vehicles and their trailers



The directive provides EU countries with a common legal framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for these vehicles.

It makes type approval compulsory for all categories of whole vehicles, including those built in several stages. It lays down:

a harmonised framework with general technical requirements for the type approval of new vehicles and of systems, components and technical units designed for such vehicles, so as to facilitate their registration, sale and entry into service in the EU;

rules regarding the sale and entry into service of vehicle parts and equipment.


The directive applies to cars, vans, trucks, buses and coaches, which are now covered by fully harmonised EU requirements.

The EU type-approval system is based on the principles of third-party approvals* and mutual recognition* of such approvals.

Under the type-approval regime, before being put on the market, the vehicle type is tested by a national technical service in accordance with the legislation. The national approval authority then delivers the approval (‘CE certificate’) on the basis of these tests. The manufacturer may make an application for approval in any EU country.

It is sufficient that the vehicle is approved in one EU country for all vehicles of its type to be registered with no further checks throughout the EU on the basis of their certificate of conformity. A certificate of conformity is a statement by the manufacturer that the vehicle conforms to EU type-approval requirements. The manufacturer has the responsibility to ensure the conformity of production to the approved type.

Directive 2007/46/EC is a directive that mainly covers the administrative procedure to be followed for the approval of vehicles.

The actual technical requirements against which vehicles have to be tested are covered in other EU texts which are listed in Annex IV to the directive. For instance, these texts:

make certain features mandatory, such as ESC (electronic stability control), new and improved mirrors, daytime running lights (DRLs), side guards to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from falling under vehicles and anti-spray devices;

lay down additional requirements for buses and coaches (emergency exits that are appropriate to vehicle capacity, easier access for people with reduced mobility, adequate residual space in the event of the rollover of the vehicle, etc.);

cover certain environmental obligations such as the standardised measure of CO2 emissions, pollutant emission limits, fuel consumption, engine power or vehicle noise emissions.


The directive entered into force on 29 October 2007. EU countries had to incorporate it in national law by 28 April 2009. Depending on the category of vehicle, the directive’s application was phased in over the 2009–14 period.


The main objective of EU legislation on vehicle type approval is to ensure that new vehicles, as well as components and technical units for sale on the market, offer high levels of safety and environmental protection.


* Third-party approval: an approval obtained from a third party such as an accredited independent body approved by each EU country.

* Mutual recognition: EU countries recognise type-approval certificates issues by the designated authorities in other EU countries.


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 (Framework Directive)

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2007/46/EC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 04.01.2016