Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Post Office Box 2944, Code No. 13030
Dear Mr. Under Secretary:
This responds to your letter of December 25, 1995, to the Department of Transportation asking about conformity certificates for tires. You stated that Ministerial Decree No. 3/82 of Kuwait states that every consignment of motor vehicle tires entering Kuwait should have a conformity certificate issued by an authorized body in the country of origin. You asked whether the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) is authorized to issue such certificates after testing in accordance with U. S. safety standards.
Please find enclosed a copy of a November 13, 1992, letter written to the Ministry by this agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in which we described in detail the requirements for certification of tires under U.S. law. The requirements described in that letter are still in effect.
Briefly stated, U.S. law establishes a self-certification system in which tire manufacturers certify, normally based on testing and/or analysis, that their tires comply with all applicable U.S. Federal motor vehicle safety standards. Manufacturers must indicate their self-certification by marking the letters ADOT@ on the sidewalls of their tires. Under U. S. law, a manufacturer's self-certification is legally equivalent to a type approval under the law of a country whose conformance procedures rely upon type approval. We respectfully suggest that you recognize self-certification as a way of meeting Ministerial Decree No. 3/82, adjusting for the particulars of the U.S. system. There is precedent for regarding type approval and self-certification as equivalent in this context. Although neither the U.S. nor Kuwait are signatories to the UN/ECE AAgreement concerning the adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted and/or be used on wheeled vehicles and the conditions for reciprocal recognition of approvals granted on the basis of these prescriptions@ (E/ECE/TRANS/505 Rev.2, 5 October 1995), we note that Article 1 of that agreement recognizes self-certification as an acceptable alternative to type approval.
All tires bearing the symbol ADOT@ are recognized by the United States as having been certified by the tire manufacturers as being in conformity with all applicable U.S. safety standards. There
is no provision in U.S. law for prior certification or approval by NHTSA, the U.S. agency responsible for the law=s implementation, or by any other entity. NHTSA monitors compliance with the standards by randomly purchasing tires in the retail market and testing them in accordance with test procedures specified in the standards. If a manufacturer's tires fail to meet applicable standards during NHTSA testing, the manufacturer is requested by NHTSA to provide any available test data and/or the results of any analysis underlying its certification. If the tires are ultimately determined to be in noncompliance with applicable standards, the manufacturer is required to conduct a notification and remedy campaign, known as a Arecall,@ to correct the problem at no cost to consumers.
In summary, U.S. law establishes a self-certification system in which tire manufacturers themselves certify that their tires comply with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards. Therefore, since conformance procedures for U.S. tire standards are based on self-certification instead of type approval, no independent body, governmental or nongovernmental, is authorized to issue conformity certificates with respect to U. S. tire safety standards.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you have any additional questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact Walter Myers of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992, or FAX (202) 366-3820.
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel
Ref: #109#119#574 d:3/19/96