European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA), is the process which provides a mechanism for ensuring that vehicles meet relevant environmental, safety and legislation standards. This can be a complicated, lengthy and expensive process for commercial vehicle manufacturers.

However, since December 2014, Belle Coachworks, has been able handle the process in house, working with Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) engineers. Belle is probably the only Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) operator in East Anglia and one of few Commercial Vehicle Body builders to hold a WVTA licence.

Why we became a WVTA operator and how this benefits our customers

Previously, every vehicle which needed to be tested had to be taken to a Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) test station for an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA). This used to be in Gillingham, Kent, but latterly in Norwich. This meant increased expense for customers due to high driver, mileage and fuel costs. The whole process also used to take 4-8 weeks which also often meant delivery to customers was delayed.

Long term this was process was unsustainable, so we decided to become a WVTA operator. To do this, we took the company through the ISO9001 quality assurance process to gain certification and then onto Conformity of Production (COP) clearance from the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) before becoming an approved operator. WVTA operator status means we have total control of the whole type approval process and can issue our own certificates, with less hassle and delays, which means the process is more cost effective for our customers.

How does the Whole Vehicle Type Approval process work?

WVTA is required before a vehicle can be registered & be used on the road. Typically, a chassis is delivered to us with an incomplete type approval (types are classes of vehicles based on weight & number of axles) & the appropriate certificate of conformity, from the manufacturer. This may then need not only the body to be mounted, but mudguards, lights etc. added too. Once complete, the vehicle is presented for Whole Vehicle Type Approval – as the two certificates of conformity are needed overall, for the Chassis and Body to gain a WVTA.

As it is not practical to test every single vehicle made, one production vehicle is tested as being representative of the ‘type’, this is subjected to VCA engineer test reports, they will check the installation of the various components to make sure that they are legal & correctly fitted. WVTA normally takes 3-4 weeks (a lot quicker than before) and different chassis types will need different whole vehicle approvals.

As a manufacturer of trailer chassis, we also are able to supply them as a complete approved vehicle from the ground upwards. The approval process can begin when the Chassis is supplied and before the Body is built, so the WVTA is ready when the Body is built. Now all vehicles, from a 3.5 tonne chassis to a 44 tonne trailer can be awarded Whole Vehicle Type approval from our premises in Lowestoft.

To find out more about Whole Vehicle Type Approval and how we can help call Paul Chambers, Workshop Manager on 01502 514001 or email