European certificate of conformity: how do I get one in France?
The European certificate of conformity (e-COC) is a document required for registering any new vehicle. But also, for any registration in France of a vehicle imported from a European Union country. What is the European certificate of conformity, what’s its purpose, how to get an e-COC… Let’s delve into all those subjects.
European certificate of conformity: purpose, euro COC history
Also called COC, a vehicle certificate of conformity is a document that exists in all countries of the world. However, it does not have the same name everywhere. Criteria to grant such certificate vary from a country to another. In the United States, for example, the vehicle must pass five tests at an Authorized Testing Laboratory.
In Europe, the EC certificate of conformity was standardized in 1996, mainly with the aim of improving pollution and safety. This certificate of conformity highlights different characteristics of the vehicle and confirms its compliance with the requirements of the European Union. A COC number is granted once that procedure is done.
The original European certificate of conformity is issued by the manufacturer (Ford, Citroën, Renault, Peugeot, etc.) and delivered to the customer when the vehicle is purchased. In case of loss, a European certificate of conformity copy can be requested directly from the vehicle manufacturer. Each certificate of conformity is unique in order to avoid fraud.
What is the European Certificate of Conformity?
Also called COC, the European certificate of conformity is, as its name suggests, a document that certifies the compliance of a vehicle with European standards and directives when it leaves the factory. It is therefore the car manufacturer who issues the European certificate of conformity. You should know that this compliance is mandatory if you want to drive legally on public roads. That’s why the car registration procedure checks the validity of a vehicle e-COC.
However, not all vehicles can get it. Indeed, this administrative document only concerns vehicles whose characteristics are as follows:
- A GVW of less than 3.5 tons
- The target market is Europe, approval procedures have been done in one of the country belonging to the EU
- The year of first registration is later than 1996 for vehicles whose category is M1 (passenger car), 2004 for two-wheeled vehicles and 2010 for utility vehicles (category N1)
What are the characteristics listed on the certificate of conformity?
On the ce certificate of conformity, the following information can be found:
- Brand (0.1)
- Type (0.2)
- Trade name (0.2.1)
- Vehicle category (0.4)
- Name and address of the vehicle manufacturer (0.5)
- Location of the manufacturer’s plate (0.6)
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Location of the identification number on the vehicle chassis
There is also technical information such as the number of axles, the mass of the vehicle, the nominal power… And more descriptive information such as the color of the vehicle, the type of gearbox, the fuel used, etc.
How to get an EC certificate of conformity (COC certificate) ?
There are 2 main ways of getting a European certificate of conformity for your vehicle:
- Via the manufacturer (most common method, usually cheaper)
- Via a specialized company (sometimes faster, but usually more expensive)
Most brands charge the issuance of an euro COC certificate. The cost depends on the manufacturer. It can be EUR 100, 200, sometimes more… There is no standard request form.
It is also possible to request this document online via third parties. Beware of scams though. Here are the steps to follow if you wish to request a certificate of conformity through one of those companies:
- Choose a site (carefully and by checking reviews to avoid unpleasant surprises)
- Provide your vehicle’s VIN number (17 digits on a label inside the vehicle or in the original purchase invoice)
- Present a copy of the vehicle registration document if available
- Provide your postal address
- Give your full contact details
- Pay for the service by credit card or bank transfer
Do we need a certificate of conformity for a motorcycle?
The certificate of conformity is essential for registration of a foreign bike (Harley Davidson…) in France, even for two-wheelers put into circulation before July 1, 2004 (according to a directive of April 15, 2009). If the motorcycle already has an SIV registration, the registration number will be retained.
Should I get my vehicle certificate of conformity in the UK, in France?
It doesn’t matter. You can request the certificate of conformity anywhere in Europe. The COC will be valid in France, irrespective of the issuing country or the language.
Why do I need a European certificate of conformity for a car?
The European certificate of conformity is mandatory to register any new vehicle, or imported into a member country of the European Union. In addition, having it in your possession allows you to resell easily a used vehicle abroad, because it certifies that the vehicle in question meets European requirements in terms of safety and environmental protection.
Who should request the EC certificate of conformity?
Whether buyer or seller, anyone can request a European certificate of conformity. For the seller, having this document will give the buyer confidence and facilitate the delicate task of registering his future vehicle. The buyer can request this certificate to the seller upon purchase of the vehicle, to avoid the hassle and cost associated with the procurement of this certificate.
Vehicle certificate of conformity: free? What price might I pay?
Sometimes a vehicle certificate of conformity is free. But it is very rare when you want a copy (it must be handed over when buying a new car). This is a matter of manufacturer policy. And they overwhelmingly charge customers requiring an e-COC. If there is no free certificate of conformity, what is the price of such a document? Again, it’s the car brand that sets a price. BMW, Nissan, Toyota, Audi, Mercedes, Kia… They all charge a different amount. It can range from €100 to €300. For example (April 2023 prices published by manufacturers on their respective website):
- BMW certificate of conformity : in UK £100, €170 in France
- Mercedes COC: £144 in the UK, €200 in France
- Peugeot, Vauxhall, Citroën, Opel : around £194 in the UK, €220 in France
As you can see, the price of the car is not correlated to the price of the COC. A BMW COC is way cheaper than a Vauxhall certificate!
Pay attention to deadlines
If you are not in possession of the certificate of conformity (Europe) for your vehicle, you must request it from the car manufacturer very quickly. You can get a temporary WW registration (4 months) without it, but the more you wait, the more the final registration will be postponed. Bear in mind that the final registration process can take weeks. As usual, the sooner, the better.
What to do if it is impossible to obtain a European certificate of conformity?
When importing a vehicle, it is quite possible that the CE certificate of conformity is missing. If this is the case, you will have to request an e-COC copy from the car manufacturer or from one of its authorized dealers. If applicable, an identification certificate might be required. It should be noted that this process is chargeable.
Your vehicle can be non compliant. It will be the case if imported from Japan or the States. In that case, you will have to present the vehicle to the DREAL. It will perform what is called a “reception à titre isolé”, which is the equivalent of the individual approval procedure. If the vehicle is found compliant, an RTI certificate will be issued, and it will authorize the registration of the car. If not, some changes might be mandatory before the approval is granted.
You should plan to spend around 180 € to obtain a COC. Some brands charge more.
You’ll have to pay an average of €250 to obtain the national identification certificate.
Bringing a non-compliant vehicle up to standard costs around €400.
Through Harley Europe. However, the Harley Davidson e-coc will only be available if the motorcycle was sold as new in the EU first. If the bike has been imported from the US, for example, the document cannot be issued since the vehicle was not approved in Europe. You’ll therefore need an individual approval from the DREAL (RTI) in order to register this imported motorcycle in France.
No. When a car has French plates, the car registration records hold the information regarding the certificate of conformity. This paper is therefore not required for an car ownership transfer.
Being standardized, the template of the COC is roughly the same in every country of the UE. However, it can hold some differences in the layout, the language used is the one of the country where the car was sold. It’s not an issue, a French European certificate of conformity is valid in Germany and vice versa.
Mostly no, because manufacturers charge customers requiring an E-COC. You will have to pay around £100-200 in the UK to get one. Luxury brands like Jaguar or Land Rover are not necessarily the most expensive in that matter.