Certificate of approval of the electric bicycle: how to obtain it?

Since 2009, there is a subsidy in France to encourage the French to buy electrically assisted bicycles (VAE). Anyone wishing to receive this subsidy must be able to present a certificate of approval. Indeed, the homologation of an electric bike is compulsory and allows to obtain this certificate which has the role of passport. This certificate of approval can only be obtained if the vehicle meets the standards in force. Indeed, electric bicycles are subject to various regulations and safety standards in France and in the European Union. These cover all aspects of the mechanical safety of the bicycle frame, the safety of the battery and the electrical compliance requirements.

In this guide, we will first of all give a brief reminder of what an electric bicycle and the certificate of approval are. We will then detail the steps to follow to acquire this document according to the different situations.

Comment obtenir un certificat d’homologation VAE ?-1

What is an electric bicycle?

The electric bicycle, also called electric assist bicycle (EAB) is a classic bicycle equipped with an electric motor and a battery. The motor provides electric assistance to the cyclist when he/she pedals. Its battery has an average range of 40 to 80 kilometers and can be recharged from a wall outlet. EABs are generally equipped with several levels of assistance in order to adapt the effort.

The electric bike has many advantages. In addition to being economical, practical and ecological, it promotes well-being and health. It can be used for daily commuting as well as for sports. You just have to choose the right bike for your needs. There are many criteria to take into account when choosing a bike, including the distance you will ride on a daily basis, the weight and size of the bike, and the battery life, among others. This will help in choosing the appropriate electric bike model: mountain bike, city bike, folding bike, etc.

The electric bike must meet the same legal safety requirements as a muscle bike. However, its motor imposes additional rules.

What is a homologation certificate?

The homologation certificate is an official document in which you can find all the technical characteristics of the bike. It certifies that the bike meets all the standards and regulations in force. Without this document, which acts as an identification form, the bicycle is not authorized to travel on public roads. This document includes:

  • the name of the bicycle manufacturer;
  • the make and model of the bicycle
  • the year of construction of the bicycle;
  • the CE directive and the standards in force.

To obtain it, there are compliance and safety criteria to be met. In particular, the electrically assisted bicycle must have:

  • a speed limited to 25 km/h;
  • a motor that stops when the cyclist stops pedaling;
  • a motor that does not exceed 0.25 kW.

All motorized vehicles in France must have it. It is thus the case of the electric bicycle. This official document is necessary to subscribe to an insurance or to receive the bike premium.

How to know if an electric bike is approved ?

When an electric bicycle is purchased in Europe, the manufacturer must automatically provide the buyer with the certificate of approval. If the owner of the bike does not have the certificate in these various documents, he can then check that the words "Conforms to safety requirements" are written near the frame of the electric bike or on the packaging. If this is the case, he can simply go online to download the certificate of approval.

All electric bikes sold in France and Europe must be approved. However, it can happen that you buy a second-hand electric bike on which the former owner has made modifications. In such a case, you have to get your electric bike homologated in order to acquire a valid homologation certificate.

Comment obtenir un certificat d’homologation VAE ?-2

What are the different ways to obtain a certificate of approval for an electric bicycle?

There are several ways to obtain a certificate of approval for an electric bicycle: it depends on several factors. Here are some explanations.

Obtaining a homologation certificate from the seller

To obtain a certificate of approval for an electric bicycle, it should be sufficient to turn to the seller of the motorized bicycle. Indeed, the manufacturer provides this certificate when the electric bike leaves the factory. It is also possible to go directly to the vehicle manufacturer's website to download it in PDF format.

Apply for a certificate of approval from an approved body

To apply for approval of a new electric bike, you can turn to an organization, for example :

  • UTAC (Union technique de l'automobile, du motocycle et du cycle) ;
  • the CNPP (National Center for Prevention and Protection);
  • CERAM (Automobile and motorcycle testing and research center).

These certification bodies are approved by the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Solidarity. There are many other organizations that can provide this certificate of approval. Regardless of the organization, the supporting documents to be provided are the same. Among these supporting documents, we find the purchase invoice of the electric bicycle, its identification number, a piece of identification, as well as a form to fill out.

Obtaining the certificate of approval for an electric bicycle purchased outside the European Union

As we have already explained, in order for an electric bicycle to be used on public roads in France, it must meet French and European standards. If the vehicle is purchased outside this area, the owner must apply for the COC [Certificate of Conformity] from one of the organizations. Once this is done, he/she only has to present this certificate to the authorities in order to acquire the vehicle registration document.

How long does it take to obtain a certificate of conformity for an electric bicycle?

After making the request, it will take about 30 days. However, the delay depends on the file, especially if supporting documents are missing or if some information is inconsistent. It is therefore imperative to take the time and pay attention to all the information provided, or the application could be rejected. It is possible to follow thestatus of the processing on the website of the organization where the request was made.

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