Type Approval – Directive 2007/46/EC

The Type Approval 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.

The Type Approval 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.


In January 2016 The Commission proposed a major overhaul of the so-called EU type approval framework in order to make vehicle testing more independent and increase surveillance of cars already in circulation. The proposal for a Regulation will help to achieve three objectives:

  • Reinforce the independence and quality of testing that allows a car to be placed on the market
  • Introduce an effective market surveillance system to control the conformity of cars already in circulation
  • Reinforce the type approval system with greater European oversight

For more information about the Type Approval Directive, please see the European Commission summary of legislation. If you would like to discuss this in more detail please contact Chris Morris.