Get a vehicle approved to transport perishable food in or out of the UK by road

How to get refrigerated or heated vans, trucks and trailers approved to transport perishable food in or out of the UK, and the documents you need to have.

You need to follow special rules to transport perishable food to or from 50 countries in a UN international agreement known as the ‘ATP agreement’.

There are different rules if you’re only transporting perishable food within the UK.

The ATP agreement sets out:

  • which foods and foodstuffs are covered by the rules
  • the temperatures different foods must be transported at
  • how vehicles, trailers and equipment can be approved
  • what documents you need to prove your vehicles, trailers and equipment meet the standards
  • what signs need to be on vehicles and trailers

It’s illegal to transport perishable food in or out of the countries in the agreement without the right approval. You can be fined by the authorities in those countries. The amounts vary by country.

Which types of food it applies to

The rules apply to transporting:

  • butter
  • concentrated fruit juice
  • deep-frozen and frozen food
  • fish products (including untreated fish, molluscs and crustaceans)
  • fresh dairy products (including yoghurt, cream and fresh cheese)
  • meat products
  • milk
  • poultry
  • ready-cooked food (meat, fish and vegetables)
  • ready-to-eat prepared raw vegetables and vegetable products

The rules do not apply to transporting non-processed food, such as fresh fruit and vegetables.

Where it applies

The rules apply if you want to transport food to or from these countries:

Albania, Andorra, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, UK, USA and Uzbekistan.

Rules for the vehicle, trailer and equipment

The vehicle or trailer and equipment must meet the rules set out in the ATP agreement.

You get a ‘certificate of compliance’ when your vehicle is approved. When you make international journeys you must either:

  • carry the certificate in the vehicle
  • permanently fix a ‘certification plate of compliance’ to the equipment in a clearly visible place - the ATP agreement sets out how it must look

Your vehicle or trailer can be checked for the certificate or plate:

  • at international borders
  • inside countries in the ATP agreement

External signs (markings)

You must display the following information on the outside of the vehicle or trailer:

You must display this at the top-front corner of the vehicle or trailer, and on both sides of it.

You can buy ‘decals’ (stickers or transfers) showing this information when you get the equipment approved.

Buy a vehicle or trailer

Generally, vehicles and trailers that have been designed to transport perishable food will already have been approved.

You should be given the ATP certificate when you buy the vehicle or trailer.

Contact Cambridge Refrigeration Technology if:

  • you do not think the certificate matches what you’re buying
  • the vehicle or trailer has not been approved

Cambridge Refrigeration Technology
Telephone: 01223 365 101
Find out about call charges

The initial certificate lasts for 6 years. You then need to get the vehicle or trailer retested every 3 years to keep it approved.

Vehicles or trailers that have not been approved

You need to have the vehicle or trailer tested if it does not have an ATP certificate and is not covered by a ‘type approval’.

Older vehicles and trailers are unlikely to pass the test.

Contact Cambridge Refrigeration Technology for advice.

Cambridge Refrigeration Technology
Telephone: 01223 365 101
Find out about call charges

Renew an approval for a vehicle or trailer

You can get your vehicle or trailer retested so it’s approved for another 3 years. The test can be done at either:

  • Conway Bailey Transport in Redruth, Cornwall - contact them directly to book the test
  • Cambridge Refrigeration Technology (the site can take one 13.6 metre semi-trailer at a time, so you must book ahead)
  • your own site

Download and fill in the application form to apply to have the test done at Cambridge Refrigeration Technology or your own site.

Application for examination and certification of a unit or batch of transport equipment

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Send the form with the application fee.

Refrigerated Vehicle Test Centre
Harvest Way


Fees vary depending on where you have your vehicle or trailer tested.

Tests at Cambridge Refrigeration Technology

Item Cost excluding VAT Cost including VAT
Inspection of one unit of equipment £90 £108
New certificate for each unit that’s been tested £60 £72
New plate for each unit that’s been tested (optional) £10 £12
ATP class and expiry decals (optional) £24 £28.80

Tests at your own site

Item Cost excluding VAT Cost including VAT
Inspection of up to 3 units of equipment together £350 £420
Inspection of each extra vehicle above 3 vehicles £80 £96
New certificate for each unit that’s been tested £60 £72
New plate for each unit that’s been tested (optional) £10 £12
ATP class and expiry decals (optional) £24 £28.80
Saturday or Sunday inspection £100 £120

You have to pay travelling expenses for the tester to get to your site. This is charged at 50 pence per mile from Cambridge Refrigeration Technology’s address. You’ll also need to pay any expenses, for example, a prearranged hotel.

Replace a lost certificate or plate

Email Cambridge Refrigeration Technology if your certificate or plate is lost or destroyed.

Cambridge Refrigeration Technology

You need to pay a fee for a replacement. Cambridge Refrigeration Technology will tell you how to pay when you’ve applied for it.


Item Cost excluding VAT Cost including VAT
Replacement certificate £40 £48
Replacement plate (optional) £10 £12
Plate holder (optional) £12 £14.40

More information

You can read more about how the ATP system works on the Cambridge Refrigeration Technology website.

Published 7 February 2013
Last updated 7 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Rewrote the guidance to include the list of food it applies to, the countries where the rules apply, what documents must be carried in the vehicle, the markings that must be on the vehicle, how to get a vehicle approved or reapproved and the fees that apply.

  2. First published.