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ATP Standards Guide

What is ATP?

ATP is the multi-lateral agreement between Signatory Countries for overland cross border carriage of perishable foodstuffs.  It ensures that vehicles used for this carriage meet agreed international standards.  The agreement details the following:

  • Establishes the standards for temperature controlled transport vehicles such as road vehicles, railway wagons and sea containers.
  • Lists the foodstuffs to be carried in accordance with the ATP agreement and sets the warmest acceptable temperatures for types of cargo.
  • Specifies the tests to be conducted on such equipment to ensure they meet the required standards.  The standards apply to the bodywork and refrigeration units.
  • Provides the system of certification for equipment that conforms to the standards.
  • Requires all Contracting Parties to recognise certificates issued in accordance with the agreement by the competent authorities of other signatory countries.

No-processed fruit and vegetables, as well as foodstuffs transported by air, are not included within the scope of the agreement.

ATP for Road Hauliers

It is illegal to transport perishable foodstuffs across international boundaries between countries that are signatories to the agreement unless the vehicle has an ATP certificate.  Given the UK’s unique geographical position, any haulier leaving the country with perishable foodstuffs must ensure their vehicle is correctly certified and meets ATP standards.

There are currently no national requirements for vehicles to meet ATP standards for delivery of frozen foodstuffs within the UK, but this may be subject to review.


The specialist equipment used for the carriage of perishable goods must comply with the appropriate standards of insulation and refrigeration as defined in the Agreement.  Each standard which may be insulated only, a combination of insulated with refrigeration, insulated with heating, or insulated with refrigeration plus heating is defined by a classification.

There are ultimately two classifications for insulated equipment, six for total loss refrigerated, twelve for mechanical refrigerated and three for heated equipment.

The most frequently used classifications are insulated and insulated mechanically refrigerated.

Each ATP Certificate issued identifies the classification to which the equipment is approved.

 Obtaining an ATP Certificate

Many vehicles and trailers built for the carriage of perishable goods are Type Approved to the required standards and come with certification.  The certification lasts for 6 years.

After the 6 years have elapsed, certification can be renewed for a period of 3 years by having an in service ‘K coefficient’ test at an approved ATP testing station.

If you have a vehicle fitted with equipment that does not have an ATP certificate and no Type Approvals have been issued the the only option to obtain a certificate is by having a ‘one off’ test at an approved test centre.

ATP Plate

Whilst it is acceptable to carry the ATP Certificate on international journeys, it is permissible for the vehicle to display an ATP Plate showing the details of its certification.  This is permanently fixed to the bodywork of the vehicle and is recognised by other signatory countries.

This plate helps hauliers avoid delays due to misunderstandings or certificate loss.  An ATP plate is available from the relevant Designated Station.  It is also acceptable for the relevant information to be displayed in the form of lettering on the vehicle bodywork, providing it meets the requirements on display lettering as specified in the Agreement.

All refrigerated vehicles with ATP certification can be identified instantly by its markings on the side of the vehicle.

All refrigerated vehicles with ATP certification can be identified instantly by its markings on the side of the vehicle.