End of life vehicles (ELVs): guidance for waste sites

How to apply to be an authorised treatment facility (ATF) for ELVs, comply with ELV regulations and meet recycling targets.

An ELV is a vehicle that is classed as waste. Waste is anything you discard, intend to discard or are required to discard. This includes metal you send for reuse or recycling.

See guidance on when a vehicle is classed as waste.

Apply to become an ELV ATF

To run an ATF and store, handle and take apart ELVs, you must follow:

In England, to treat ELVs at a site you need all of the following:

Contact your local Environment Agency office and tell them you want to deal with ELVs on your site.

Telephone: 03708 506 506 (see call charges)


If your site practices are acceptable, the Environment Agency will issue an environmental permit and approve you as an ATF for ELVs. Your business name and site details will appear on a public register.


Find out how much the fee is in the Environmental permitting charging scheme and guidance document.

ATF duties

Certificate of destruction (CoD): ATF responsibilities

All scrap cars must be issued with an official CoD when they reach their end of life.

CoDs are for:

  • passenger vehicles and light goods vehicles under 3.5 tonnes
  • 3-wheeled motor vehicles

Once you have decided to depollute and scrap a vehicle you must generate a CoD via the DVLA online system. When the Environment Agency tells the DVLA you have been accepted as an ATF, the DVLA will contact you and tell you how to set up an account on their system.

You must issue the CoD to the person who brings the vehicle to you. You should advise that person to keep the CoD indefinitely. You should not charge the last holder/owner for issuing the CoD.

The DVLA system automatically updates the vehicle record to reflect a CoD.

If you depollute a vehicle not covered by the regulations, for example, a lorry, motorcycle or motorhome you still need to enter the vehicle details into the CoD system. It will automatically update the details as a notification of destruction and update the vehicle record.

Also take the vehicle log book (V5C) if available. You must keep them for 12 months, then you can destroy them.

The CoD is important – the owner/keeper uses it to prove to the DVLA that they have taken their vehicle to a registered ATF waste site and it is no longer on the road.


You must depollute all ELVs. If you do not fully depollute an ELV it will be hazardous waste and you must follow hazardous waste rules. You must store it on an impermeable pavement, for example concrete that has sealed drainage.

To depollute a vehicle, remove the:

  • battery
  • fuel
  • wheels, tyres and lead balance weights
  • liquefied gas tank (if present)
  • liquids - including coolants, antifreeze, brake fluid, air-conditioning gas, shock absorber fluid and windscreen wash
  • oils - including engine, gearbox, transmission and hydraulic oils
  • oil filters - if you crush them using special equipment to remove all the oil, you can return the filter to the car because it is non-hazardous waste
  • parts with mercury, like switches
  • catalytic converter

Potentially explosive materials like air bags and seat belt pre-tensioners can either be removed or set off in situ (the recommended option).

You are responsible for ensuring all vehicle materials and liquids are reused, recycled or safely disposed.

Download guidance on depolluting end of life vehicles: guidance for treatment facilities and removal of LPG tanks.

You can find specialist depollution information for different makes and models of vehicle on the International Dismantling Information System (IDIS) website.

Always follow health and safety guidance.

Store parts for resale safely

Store in a manner that prevents damage to the part, for example on racks where possible.

Store any parts that could contain liquids on an impermeable surface.

Store liquids safely

Store liquid by type, in separate, clearly labelled, leakproof containers. Keep them in a bund to contain spills or leaks.

There are restrictions on mixing hazardous waste. Wastes of the same type, for example different grades of oil, can be stored in the same container. Do not mix oil with other fluids.

Store batteries safely

Store upright in clearly labelled, acid-resistant, leakproof containers.

Do not store different types of battery together, for example lead acid batteries with lithium-ion batteries.

You must store batteries under cover or in weatherproof containers.

Store car shells safely

Once fully depolluted, you can store them on a hardstanding area or on an impermeable surface.

Meet recycling and recovery targets

The recycling and recovery target for ELVs is 95%.

Vehicle manufacturers and importers must meet recycling targets for ELVs. They set up a network where organisations take back their particular make of vehicles at end of life. If an ELV is returned via this scheme there is no charge to the last owner. If you operate within a network, take-back obligations are met by vehicle manufacturers and importers.

If you operate outside of a network you must meet recycling targets yourself. If you do this, you do not have to offer free take-back. It will be a private arrangement. You must:

  • complete the pre-populated annual form with the recycling rates you achieved
  • send it to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) by 1 July each year

Contact Defra:

Telephone: 03459 33 55 77


Find more information on ELV producer registration.

Shredder residues

Most vehicles are taken to shredders which separate the plastic, foam, textiles, wood, rubber and metal. Most of these materials are recycled.

Shredder residues burnt in an energy from waste incinerator can also count towards ELV recovery targets.

Exporting waste

If you export an ELV for dismantling you must make sure the correct waste shipment paperwork goes with it. The paperwork needs to authorise the movement of the ELV from the site of origin to the destination site.

If you sell ELVs for export, you must comply with your waste duty of care. You must make sure the ELVs are passed to an authorised person with:

  • a waste carrier registration
  • the correct waste shipment notification paperwork for the export of the ELV(s) to the country of destination

You cannot ship undepolluted ELVs to some non-EU countries. They are hazardous waste. You can use the waste export tool to check where undepolluted vehicles can be shipped.

See the guidance to find out how to import and export waste.

Inspections and compliance

The Environment Agency will inspect your site regularly. You will get a written report after each visit that records and scores any breaches of your permit. The more scores you receive, the higher your annual fee will be. High scoring sites will get more Environment Agency inspections than low scoring ones.

It is an offence not to comply with the conditions of your permit or the regulations.

See the Environment Agency enforcement and sanctions guidance.

More information

See the legislation and regulations:

Find information specific for:

Published 15 April 2014
Last updated 2 November 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated link to new 'When a vehicle is classed as waste' guidance. Guidance reviewed and amended to clarify ATF duties, for example, that export rules must be followed.
  2. From 1 April 2016 businesses no longer need to register as a hazardous waste producer - content on this requirement removed.
  3. First published.