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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Car benefit calculation Step 5, appropriate percentage: when does a car have an approved CO2 emissions figure?

Section 134 ITEPA 2003

This page relates to step 5 of the method statement in Section 121(1) ITEPA 2003, see EIM24015. It will help in understanding the guidance following this paragraph if you are familiar with the introduction to the appropriate percentage at EIM24500.

The guidance on this page explains which cars will have an approved CO2 emissions figure.

Only cars first registered on or after 1 January 1998 can have an approved CO2 emissions figure for the purposes of the car benefits legislation. All cars first registered before 1 January 1998 are dealt with separately, even if they are one of the few with a CO2 emissions figure, see EIM24950.

Cars sold in the United Kingdom and in other European Union (EU) countries are required to meet safety and environmental standards under European legislation. Each car must conform to a type (of which a sample has been submitted by the manufacturer or importer) that has been approved by a national certification agency. The level of CO2 emitted by the car on a prescribed test cycle is one of the factors recorded during the type approval testing procedure. Very small manufacturers (for example, TVR at the time of writing, February 2003) are excluded.

The approved CO2 emissions figure for car benefit purposes is that which is recorded on the type approval certificate that summarises the results of the type approval testing procedure.

The type approval certificate may be either:

  • a UK approval certificate, normally issued under Section 58(1) or (4) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, or
  • an EU type approval certificate, (as required under European Union Directive 70/156/EEC as amended).

The type approval certificate is held by the car manufacturer (or importer, if appropriate). It is not held by the owner of the car. It refers to the type of car and not to an individual car.

Each individual car should, from 1 October 1999, also have a unique certificate of conformity, which records the approved CO2 emissions figure for the car obtained from the relevant type approval certificate. But, in practice, manufacturers do not routinely provide certificates of conformity with new vehicles (although vehicle owners can ask for the certificate if necessary).

So a car has an approved CO2 emissions figure for car benefit purposes if the car is of a type for which the manufacturer has an approval certificate that specifies a CO2 emissions figure in terms of grams per kilometre (g/km) driven.

The rules operated by the various car registration bodies about what constitutes a type of car are quite broad and car manufacturers have taken different approaches to the amount of detail in which they define a car type. But at the very least we would expect there to be separate approval certificates and therefore separate CO2 emissions figures for different models of car, and within each model range for different:

  • engine sizes
  • engine types
  • fuel types
  • transmissions (whether manual or automatic transmission)
  • body styles (estate/hatchback/saloon) and number of doors
  • model years (the same car produced at different times with different specifications).

There will not necessarily be separate approval certificates for different levels of trim/fitting out of the car.

Note: For car benefit purposes the CO2 emissions figure that applies at the date of first registration is set for the life of the car. It is not changed by the addition of accessories or by modifications. (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

For details of how to find the CO2 emissions figure see:

  • EIM24510 - car first registered in UK from 1 January 1998 to 28 February 2001
  • EIM24515 - car first registered in UK from 1 March 2001 onwards
  • EIM24520 - car first registered in other European Union countries
  • EIM24525 - cars imported from outside the European Union
  • EIM24530 - rare and one-off models
  • EIM24535 - cases of difficulty.

Remember, for cars first registered before 1998 (whether in the UK or overseas) the car benefit charge is calculated on the basis of engine size and not CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions are not taken into account for any cars first registered before 1998, see EIM24975.