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VCA-EV Legislation

Did you know that the legislation governing road trailers is changing?


Find out all you need to know:


Unlike almost every other country in Europe there has never been a requirement in the UK for trailers to be registered or go through the equivalent of an annual MOT.


In France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, and Spain – in fact most EU countries trailers are subject to much stricter legislation. They must go through stringent tests and achieve a type approval certification standard and are then required to be registered in their own right.  This can involve them being given their own set of number plates that will be different to the towing vehicle and may also involve them going for an annual roadworthy check – similar to an MOT.


From October 2012 a new pan European legislation comes into force that affects all trailers purchased from this point on. It is NOT retrospective and will only apply to NEW trailers. In effect non-conforming trailers will be ‘illegal’ and could be removed from the road until the necessary modifications can be carried out.


What it affects…


Every road going trailer manufactured after October 2012, whether braked or unbraked must have gone through the type approval process. Approved trailers will carry a special 17 digit identification on the manufacturers plate and trailer chassis.  This number is held on a European database and can be accessed by the relevant authorities to verify the authenticity of the number and that it relates to the actual trailer.


What it involves…


All trailers must conform to broad guidelines with regard to structural integrity and undergo strictly controlled compatibility tests between all components to ensure optimum operational effectiveness.


What this means is that axles, wheels, couplings and brakes all perform to manufacturers recommended tolerances meaning a better, safer trailer fro the end user.


The manufacturer has to undergo an inspection in order to obtain Conformity of Production Certification.  This is like a mini ISO standard and requires manufacturers to be able to demonstrate auditable quality and conformity procedures whether they produce 1 trailer or a 1000.


Qualifying companies will then be subject to future inspections to ensure procedures are still being followed and adhered to.


The design of the trailers has had to alter and we have moved away from trailers with a single drawbar.  All EU trailers will have an ‘A’frame style construction and come complete with the necessary side and end marker lights and brake rod systems.


The side marker lights are hard wired to the trailer and are waterproof LED units. The light board is now a much bigger affair and includes end marker and reversing lamps where necessary.


The wiring harness is based on a EU 13-pin plug common on mainland Europe and indeed on many imported cars – we will offer a 7-pin conversion plug as standard to ensure compatibility with the majority of UK towing sockets.


Is this good news or bad?


The good news is that the quality of boat trailers across the board should increase as there are now a set of standards to which they must adhere – believe it or not the individual manufacturer effectively set the previous standard!


Towing a well-lit trailer is fantastic. The driver can see it and more importantly other road users can see it – so it should be better and safer for all.


This legislation is Pan European so it is now possible to buy a trailer in the UK and get it registered abroad. There will still be a local ‘test’ or inspection to ensure the trailer complies and we have discovered that some countries have additional ‘safety regulations’ that fall outside of the legislation but are still required for registration.  For example Germany requires wheel chocks to be fitted so if you intend to do this it would be worth checking if there are any additional local requirements. It may also be chargeable – so prepare for that!


All the necessary standardised documentation will be supplied with your SBS Trailer.


I suppose the obvious negative is that the trailer will cost a few hundred pounds more – but you can argue that it is a better trailer and hence worth that bit extra?


As a leading boat trailer manufacturer SBS actually achieved type approval last year and were the first to do so in the UK. There are a number of private and Government backed organisations that offer the testing service, we opted to use the VCA.


About VCA


VCA is an Executive Agency of the United Kingdom Department for Transport and the United Kingdom's national approval authority for new road vehicles, agricultural tractors and off-road vehicles. Their status allows close links with the UK Government and European policy formulation and enforcement of vehicle safety and environmental standards.


They pride themselves in providing expert international test and certification services for vehicles and vehicle parts. Their approval certificates are recognised without question throughout the European Community and the wider group of countries belonging to the European Economic Area and the Geneva-based United Nations organisation (ECE).