The UK Government has recognised the broad consensus across the automotive sector that more time is required to prepare for the UK’s new post-Brexit type approval scheme.

Following a consultation, the Department for Transport has delayed the application of the new “full” Great Britain type approval for passenger and goods vehicles to 1 February 2024. The Department has also proposed extending the period of acceptance of EU certificates of conformity until July 2026 to give manufacturers further time to prepare.

In the run up to Brexit the European Union made clear that the VCA would no longer be recognised as an authorised European Type Approval Authority. To provide ongoing certainty concerning the status of vehicles on the road in the UK from 1 January 2021, the VCA outlined the creation of the new full type approval schemes; one for Great Britain (GB) and the other for Northern Ireland. Provisional schemes were also introduced to bridge the gap between the UK’s withdrawal from the EU regime and the entry into force of permanent type approval arrangements for the UK.

So far details on the operation of the full (as opposed to provisional) new GB scheme have been relatively scant. However some further welcome guidance was provided in the Department for Transport’s recent consultation.

The consultation recognised the tension between the desire to facilitate continued alignment between UK and EU type approval regimes and for the UK to create a bespoke type approval scheme post Brexit. It also acknowledged that further stakeholder engagement would be needed in the case of divergence. 

The automotive industry will welcome the indication that major divergence on the technical standards at the heart of the EU type approval regime is not imminently envisaged:

“The technical requirements that will apply in the GB scheme will be those that applied in the EU on the day of Brexit. … We believe the proposals avoid duplication of approval work by manufacturers wherever practical, but the creation of a national approval scheme will inevitably require some GB specific approval activities. We are open to working further with industry and the VCA to see if there are additional steps that can be taken [to] minimise burdens.”

Clearly the Department’s position is that a vehicle which met the EU requirements on the day of Brexit will satisfy the requirements of the new GB scheme. 

Industry will also welcome the confirmation that vehicles which meet more stringent EU legislation implemented post-Brexit (e.g. the Euro 7 standards expected soon), and so not forming part of UK law, will still be accepted for GB approval: “unless such vehicles would not meet the GB requirements, and to date we have no evidence of this occurring.”

Further, presumably to provide time for further discussions and preparations, useful guidance as to the relevant key dates relating to the transition to the GB type approval scheme has been provided. For passenger and commercial vehicles these appear to have been deliberately staggered to assist industry in adapting to the changes. Below is an outline of the consultation’s key conclusions:

  • Multi-stage vehicle type approvals: like the EU scheme, the GB scheme will continue to permit multi-stage approvals (i.e. the approval of vehicles which are built by a combination of manufacturers). However the Government has rejected appeals to accept EU approvals for base vehicles (i.e. the initial build stage of a vehicle before its completion). Instead it has proposed a 30-month grace period up to 1 August 2026 which will allow importers of a base vehicle sufficient time to obtain a full GB approval for the vehicle once completed.
  • EU technical services reports: vehicle testing and inspection reports from non-VCA approved technical service providers across the EU will be accepted by the VCA until 31 December 2026 for passenger vehicles (a year later than originally anticipated). After that date the VCA will remain the sole approval authority, although the consultation suggests that there should be a continued acceptance of such testing by other EU based technical service providers after that date following VCA approval.
  • Certificates of conformity: in recognising the costs involved in updating computer systems to accommodate new GB certificates of conformity, it has been agreed that EU paper certificates of conformity may continue to be used until July 2026. Manufacturers may then also elect to provide only electronic certificates rather than producing paper GB certificates. 
  • Statutory plates: although manufacturers will be required to fix a statutory plate to each vehicle showing the vehicle’s GB approval number, they can elect to display the number in one of two ways: either in the ‘additional information’ section of the existing EU plate or on a second label placed alongside the existing EU plate.
  • Approval of aftermarket parts: the Government has maintained that components and separate technical units intended solely for sale on the aftermarket as replacement parts will need to obtain a separate GB approval. Recognising that this will add an additional burden on the aftermarket, the consultation notes that components approved to internationally recognised UNECE regulations will continue to be accepted in Great Britain without further approval. To allow manufacturers of aftermarket parts to adjust to the new rules, replacement components will not need a GB approval until 1 February 2025.

In parallel, the VCA has helpfully summarised the predicted timelines for the GB scheme:

Type approval category 

Provisional

Full

Optional 

Compulsory 

Optional 

Compulsory 

Passenger and commercial vehicles 

 

Complete 

N/A

1 January 2021

1 January 2023

1 February 2024


(New types and those with expired provisional approvals)

Passenger and commercial vehicles 

 

Incomplete

N/A

N/A

1 January 2023

1 February 2024

Components for use in whole vehicle passenger and commercial vehicles

N/A

N/A

1 January 2023



Varies depending upon when full approval for the WVTA is needed

Components for use in the aftermarket for passenger and commercial vehicles

1 January 2021

1 January 2023

1 January 2023

1 February 2025


(New types and expired provisional approvals)