The roadworthiness test establishes the technical suitability of vehicles. Any vehicle on the road should be in a suitable condition and meet accepted safety and environmental standards for safe driving and transport of people or cargo.

Vehicles subject to roadworthiness tests in the EU:

  • buses;
  • coaches;
  • heavy duty 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 following parts of the vehicle are covered by the checks:

  • 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.

Light commercial vehicles and private cars should undergo a check in the first four years after the vehicle was first put into service. Then it should be checked every two years. For all other vehicles the first tests should take place one year after the vehicle was first put into service, and then annually.

According to EU legislation, road inspectors may carry unannounced checks on any commercial vehicle travelling within a European Union.
The inspector must perform at least one of the following checks:

  • a visual check on the state of maintenance of the vehicle;
  • a check on the documents relating to the compliance of the vehicle with a technical roadside inspection and a recent roadside technical inspection report;
  • a check to uncover poor maintenance (smooth tyres, faulty braking system, etc.)

For more information on the roadworthiness tests in EU please visit this website.

Environmental Requirements

The EU is constantly working on reducing pollution caused by road vehicles by introducing stricter emission requirements. Current emission limits for cars and light commercial vehicles are called Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards. The EU strives to bring the level of the greenhouse gas emissions down to 130g CO2/km by 2015.

Vehicle pollution is regulated at UN level as well. The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations was established in 1952 as a UN framework fostering global discussions and harmonised regulations on vehicles. It is made up of different working parties. Since 1988 the Working Party on Pollution and Energy of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has been working to introduce emission limits for heavy trucks. A new standard (EURO VI) is to enter into force in 2014. It is expected to halve the current greenhouse gas emissions coming from heavy duty vehicles. The new EURO VI standard has already been approved by the EU and will enter into force in 2013.

To find out more on environmental standards for light and heavy duty vehicles in the EU please visit the website of DG Enterprise and Industry and the UNECE Transport Division.

For more information about road worthiness in the EU, visit this page from DG MOVE.