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Motor vehicles with trailers: roadworthiness test

The European Union is merging Directive 77/143/EEC and its successive amendments in order to form a single text and to harmonise the frequency of roadworthiness tests and the parts of motor vehicles which must be tested.


Council Directive 96/96/EC of 20 December 1996 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers [See amending acts].


Directive 96/96/EC

This Directive covers:

  • buses;
  • coaches;
  • heavy goods vehicles;
  • trailers and semi-trailers weighing more than 3.5 tonnes;
  • taxis;
  • ambulances;
  • light commercial vehicles weighing not more than 3.5 tonnes (pickups and vans);
  • private cars with not more than eight seats, excluding the driver's seat.

The Member States may exempt the following from the Directive:

  • armed-forces, public-order and fire-fighting vehicles;
  • certain vehicles used under exceptional conditions.

The abovementioned vehicles are subject to a compulsory roadworthiness test whereby:

  • the frequency and the vehicle parts to be tested are specified in the Annexes;
  • Member States must issue a test certificate which must be recognised by the other Member States.

The roadworthiness test carried out by the Member States, or authorised bodies within the Member States, focuses, in particular, on the following:

  • braking system;
  • steering and steering wheel;
  • visibility;
  • lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment;
  • axles, wheels, tyres and suspension;
  • chassis and chassis attachments;
  • nuisance, including exhaust emissions;
  • vehicle identification;
  • various items of equipment.

The frequency of the tests varies according to vehicle type:

  • light commercial vehicles and private cars: the first test takes place four years after the vehicle was first put into service, and thereafter every two years;
  • other vehicles: the first test is carried out one year after the vehicle was first put into service, and thereafter annually.

Member States may grant exemptions from the Directive in order to:

  • bring forward the date for the first test;
  • shorten the interval between two successive compulsory tests;
  • make the testing of optional equipment compulsory;
  • increase the number of items to be tested;
  • extend the periodic test requirement to other categories of vehicles;
  • require special additional tests;
  • apply more stringent braking standards than those set out in the Directive.

On 9 March 1998 the Directive repeals Directives 77/143/EEC, 88/449/EEC, 91/225/EEC, 91/328/EEC, 92/54/EEC, 92/55/EEC and 94/23/EC. This in no way affects the Member States' obligations concerning the dates for transposition into national law and for implementation of the Directives which have been repealed.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 96/96/EEC09.03.199709.03.1998OJ L 046 of 17.02.1997

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 1999/52/EC06.06.199901.10.2000OJ L 142 of 05.06.1999
Directive 2001/09/EC09.03.200109.03.2002OJ L 048 of 17.02.2001
Directive 2001/11/EC09.03.200109.03.2003OJ L 048 of 17.02.2001
Directive 2003/27/EC28.04.200301.01.2004OJ L 090 of 08.04.2003
Regulation (EC) No 1882/200320.11.2003-OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003
Last updated: 22.01.2008
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