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Motor vehicles and their trailers: roadworthiness test

Within the framework of the common transport policy of the European Union (EU), this directive harmonises the frequency of roadworthiness tests and details which parts of motor vehicles must be tested. Increased road traffic presents similar safety problems in all EU countries. Minimum standards and methods must therefore be defined within the EU for both private and public motor vehicles.


Directive 2009/40/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 on roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers (Recast).


Motor vehicles registered in a European Union (EU) country and their trailers must undergo periodic roadworthiness tests. Annexes I and II to this directive detail the categories of vehicles to be tested, the frequency of the roadworthiness tests and the items which must be tested. The roadworthiness tests must be undertaken by the EU countries, or by a public body that has been entrusted with the task, or by bodies or establishments designated and directly supervised.

Annex I details the categories of motor vehicles that will be subject to roadworthiness tests and the required frequency of the tests for each category. The minimum testing frequency for the different categories of motor vehicles and their trailers is:

  • One year after the date on which the vehicle was first used, and thereafter annually for:
    • motor vehicles used for the carriage of passengers and with more than eight seats, excluding the driver’s seat;
    • motor vehicles used for the carriage of goods and having a maximum permissible mass exceeding 3 500 kg;
    • trailers and semi-trailers with a maximum permissible mass exceeding 3 500 kg;
    • taxis, ambulances;
  • Four years after the date on which the vehicle was first used, and thereafter every two years for:
    • motor vehicles having at least four wheels, normally used for the road carriage of goods and with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 3 500 kg, excluding agricultural tractors and machinery;
    • motor vehicles having at least four wheels, used for the carriage of passengers and with not more than eight seats excluding the driver’s seat.

Annex II sets out which items must be compulsorily tested. The tests covered by Annex II should be undertaken using techniques and equipment available without the use of tools to disassemble or remove any part of the vehicle. Where the motor vehicle is found to be defective with regard to the test items below, the competent authority in the EU country concerned must set specific conditions under which the particular vehicle may be used before passing another roadworthiness test. The test must cover the items listed in the annex, provided that these are related to the equipment of the vehicle being tested in the EU country concerned. The compulsory test items include:

  • vehicle identification;
  • braking equipment;
  • steering;
  • visibility;
  • lighting equipment and parts of electric system;
  • axles, wheels, tyres and suspension;
  • chassis and chassis attachments;
  • other equipment – safety belts, fire extinguisher, locks and anti-theft device, warning triangle, first-aid kit, speedometer, etc;
  • nuisance – noise, exhaust emissions, etc;
  • supplementary tests for public transport vehicles – emergency exit(s), heating and ventilation systems, seat layout, interior lighting;

The vehicle operator or driver must be informed in writing of any defects, the result of the test and the legal consequences. EU countries will take the necessary measures to make it possible to prove that a vehicle has passed a roadworthiness test. Other EU countries and the Commission will be informed of these measures. All EU countries will mutually recognise the proof issued in another EU country showing that a vehicle registered in that other EU country, together with its trailer or semi-trailer, has passed a roadworthiness test in compliance with the provisions of this directive. EU countries will also implement all appropriate measures to establish that the brake performance of motor vehicles registered in their country complies with the requirements of this directive.


Notwithstanding the provisions of Annexes I and II, EU countries have the right to:

  • bring forward the date for the first compulsory roadworthiness test and, where appropriate, require the vehicle to be submitted for test prior to registration;
  • 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;
  • prescribe special additional tests;
  • require vehicles registered on their territory to have higher minimum standards for braking efficiency than those specified in Annex II and include a test on vehicles with heavier loads, provided such requirements do not exceed those of the vehicle’s original type-approval.

EU countries also have the right to exclude vehicles belonging to the armed forces, the forces of law and order and the fire service from the scope of this directive. After consultation with the Commission, EU countries may exclude from the requirements of this directive certain motor vehicles operated or used in exceptional conditions, and motor vehicles which are never, or hardly ever, used on public highways. Following consultation with the Commission, EU countries also have the right to set their own testing standards for vehicles considered to be of historic interest.

The Commission will adopt all necessary directives to define the minimum standards and methods for testing the items listed in Annex II of this directive, as well as any amendments necessary to adapt to technical progress in these areas.

Within three years from the introduction of regular testing of speed limitation devices, the Commission will re-examine whether the tests laid down are sufficient to detect defective or manipulated speed limitation devices or whether the rules need to be modified.

This directive repeals Directive 96/96/EC.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2009/40/EC



OJ L 141 of 6.6.2009

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2009/40/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.


Commission Recommendation 2010/378/EU of 5 July 2010 on the assessment of defects during roadworthiness testing in accordance with Directive 2009/40/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers [Official Journal L 173 of 8.7.2010].

Last updated: 30.09.2010
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