Skip to main content

End-of-life vehicles

End-of-life vehicles

More than two million tonnes of waste is created each year as a result of discarded motor vehicles.

End-of-life vehicles have the potential to release hazardous substances into the environment if they are not treated, recycled or disposed of properly.

What are end-of-life vehicles?

An end-of-life vehicle (ELV) is any type of motor vehicle that is classed as waste. Waste is anything that you discard, intend to discard or are required to discard – including metal sent for recycling or reuse.

Our factsheet on ELVs explains in more detail the manner in which ELVs can harm the environment.

How are they regulated?

The End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive (2000/53/EC)was transposed through three different pieces of legislation in Scotland.

The End of Life Vehicles Regulations 2003and their further 2010 amendments introduced Certificates of Destruction (CoDs) and free take back for vehicles that have no market value.

The ELV (Producer Responsibility) Regulations 2005 and their further 2010 amendments set out producer responsibility requirements.

The keeping and treatment of waste motor vehicles is regulated by the End-of-Life Vehicles (Storage and Treatment) (Scotland) Regulations 2003 : comprehensive guidance is available on the standards for storage and treatment of ELVs.

Do the regulations apply to me?

The ELV Directive requires that the last owner of a vehicle must be able to dispose of their vehicles free of charge. Such vehicles are taken to sites known as authorised treatment facilities (ATFs), which prepare the vehicle for dismantling and recycling – a process called depollution.

ATFs – more commonly referred to as dismantlers, scrap yards, salvage yards or breakers yards – are sites that have been licensed to accept waste motor vehicles and are able to comply with the requirements of the ELV regulations. We maintain a register of all licensed ATFs.

ATFs issue CoDs to the vehicle’s owner: this is proof that the vehicle has been transferred, will be treated to the required standards before being destroyed and is no longer their responsibility.

If you intend to operate an ATF, you will need to apply to us for a licence.

What do I need to do?

Before anything else, you will need to obtain planning permission from your local authority.

You must also have a waste management licence (which we issue) and you must meet certain standards to ensure that you:

  • store and treat ELVs in a way that does not harm the environment;
  • depollute ELVs to a defined standard;
  • recycle, store and dispose of the parts appropriately.

If, following an inspection which we will carry out, you meet all these standards, you will be classed as an ATF and given access to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s electronic CoD system.

You must also observe the duty of care – a piece of legislation that requires anyone who produces, transports, stores or treats waste to ensure that they do so without causing pollution. It specifically requires that waste (including ELVs) is only passed on to a person who is legally authorised to deal with it. Our guidance for ATF operators explains the duty of care in more detail.

How do I apply for a licence?

If you keep or treat ELVs without the appropriate licence, you are committing a criminal offence and may be prosecuted.

Furthermore, without a licence we will not be able to approve you as an ATF to keep or treat non-depolluted ELVs. This means that your site will not be recognised by the DVLA and you will not be able to access the CoD system or issue CoDs, which may endanger your business.

In order to apply for a licence, you must complete an application form and return it to us together with the appropriate fee. We then have four months to make a decision on whether or not to grant a licence, based on the information you have supplied.

Our guide to waste management licensing explains the regulations and process in more detail.

Contact us if your authorisation is required urgently within the next three weeks.

Contact us

If you require any further help or advice, or would like to submit a pre-application proposal and supporting information, please email

Please note, while SEPA authorise and regulate ATFs, we do not administer any schemes for scrapping vehicles. If your enquiry is regarding scrapping your vehicle, please refer your enquiry to the relevant body administering the scrappage scheme.

You can submit application forms along with supporting information by emailing