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Essential steps UK vehicle manufacturers must take to prepare for Brexit, whether they supply the home market or EU

Published: 8 December 2020 - Victoria White

Are you a UK-based manufacturer of type approved vehicles sold in the UK and/or exported to Europe? If so, it is essential that you take certain steps before the Brexit transition period ends on 31st December. Without these, your type approval in the UK could lapse and your exports to Europe could be blocked.

Irrespective of the UK’s future trading relationship with the European Union (EU), UK-based vehicle manufacturers need to have a manufacturer’s representative established in the EU for the Approval Document as appropriate for each EU directive or regulation with which compliance is claimed.

Automotive homologation is mandatory for all classes of vehicle for use in EU 27 member states. This includes passenger and goods vehicles, ranging from small garden waste trailers to articulated trucks and trailers. Furthermore, the directives and regulations are very broad in scope and number over a dozen, so most manufacturers need to comply with – and have appropriate documentation in place for – multiple sets of legislative requirements.

At the time of writing it is unclear whether the UK and EU will reach an agreement on a future trading arrangement. Assuming no deal is reached, or a deal is reached that does not cover type approvals sufficiently, all e11 type approvals previously issued in the UK by the VCA will cease to be valid in the EU 27 states from 1st January. If a UK manufacturer with an e11 approval wishes to continue exporting vehicles to the EU 27, it is therefore essential that valid type approvals are in place. The VCA has been ‘flipping’ e11 approvals to e5 approvals from the equivalent authority in Sweden but manufacturers must check that this has been done or make alternative arrangements.

A UK manufacturer with an EU 27 type approval will not previously have needed to nominate a representative but from 1st January this will not be acceptable because the manufacturer’s representative must be established in the EU. The representative can be an individual or a business, and large manufacturers may already have a European subsidiary that can take on this role. However, smaller manufacturers without a European subsidiary are unlikely to have the appetite for setting one up in the last few weeks before the transition period ends. Although the manufacturer’s representative could be a distributor, many distributors are unwilling to shoulder the burden of additional responsibilities. As the ‘economic operator’, the distributor would have to represent the manufacturer for the purposes of type approval (homologation) and market surveillance.

Type approval for agricultural machines will be handled in much the same way as automotive approvals. This is the case for both tractors, for which type approval is mandatory in the UK and EU, and trailers and trailed implements, for which type approval is mandatory in the EU but currently optional in the UK.

Regarding the placement of vehicles on the UK market, European Whole Vehicle Type Approval (EWVTA) is being replaced in the UK by UKTA. Currently the VCA says approvals from authorities in the EU 27 will be recognised for non-registered vehicles like O1 and O2 trailers for a period of two years only, after which UKTA approval will be necessary. Note, however, that if a UK manufacturer currently has an EU 27 EWVTA approval (ie an approval that is not e11) for a vehicle, where the manufacturer acts as his own representative by being in the UK, this approval may become invalid from 1st January because EU 27 EWVTA approvals will require manufacturers’ representatives to be established in the EU.

The Northern Ireland market has its own complication in that a GB manufacturer (ie one in England, Wales or Scotland) will need to supply vehicles with UKTA whereas a manufacturer from an EU 27 state can supply vehicles with approval from an EU 27 authority. Manufacturers in Northern Ireland who hold UK National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA) or EC Small Series Type Approval (ECSSTA) will be able to supply to the GB market through unfettered access. However, European approval will be necessary in order to supply vehicles south of the Irish border or, indeed, elsewhere in the EU.

Hold Tech Files Ltd, which is established in Eire, can help vehicle manufacturers to make the documentary changes as seamlessly as possible. The company is offering vehicle and agricultural machine manufacturers a simple, expedient and cost-effective way to comply with the requirement to have a manufacturer’s representative established in the EU. The entire service is provided via a user-friendly website. After signing a mandate and paying a fee (all fees are published on the website and there are no ‘hidden extras’), the relevant documentation can be uploaded to a secure server. Payment of a one-off fee entitles the manufacturer to name Hold Tech Files as the manufacturer’s representative and, if required, this representation can be extended annually by payment of a further fee.

Once the EU representative has been established it will still be necessary for the manufacturer to extend their EU 27 EWVTA approval in conjunction with their approval authority.

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Source: UK Manufacturing

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