The Radio Equipment Directive

Latest Developments

The new Radio Equipment Directive (RED)(2014/53/EU) has been published to bring the requirements for radio equipment into line with the New Legislative Framework (NLF). It came into force on the 13th June 2016 and immediately replaced R+TTE Directive1999/5/EC without a transition period. This will have little effect for manufacturers apart from:

  • The Directive represents a further liberalisation of the requirements for telecom products in Europe since it excludes all wired equipment from its scope and so fixed line equipment will now be regulated under the LVD and EMC directives in the same way as any other general electrical apparatus.
  • Broadcast TV and radio receivers, which are currently excluded from the scope of the R+TTE Directive, will be within the scope of the RED, but the basic self-certification structure remains in place for all equipment covered by Harmonised Standards.
  • Equipment operating below 9 kHz which has been excluded from the R & TTE Directive, now falls within the scope of the RED.
  • Radio-determination equipment is now clearly included within the scope of the Directive.
  • Custom built evaluation kits destined for professionals to be used solely at research and development facilities for such purposes is explicitly excluded from the RED.
  • Notified Body intervention (in the form of a type approval or an accredited quality management system covering design) will be required where Harmonised standards are unavailable.
  • The Directive removes the requirement for special marking (the alert symbol) on equipment operating on non-harmonised frequency bands but instead to include this information in the user documentation. The notification procedure to Member States is also removed.

The RED's predecessor directive, the R+TTE Directive, was introduced in 1999, replacing the interim directive 98/13/EC, which in turn consolidated the requirements of the Telecommunications Terminal Equipment and Satellite Earth Station Equipment directives. This has led to a conformity assessment regime based on manufacturers' declarations, rather than independent tests.

It is important to note that equipment within the scope of this Directive must meet the essential requirements of both the Low Voltage directive and Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive. The Directive also requires equipment to be constructed for efficient use of the radio spectrum, and to avoid interference with terrestrial and orbital communications. Additional requirements are made for certain classes of equipment.

There are a number of possible ways in which manufacturers can ensure that their product complies. If harmonized standards exist for the equipment, they may self-declare. If these do not exist, the manufacturer will have to involve a Notified Body to assess the ability of the equipment to meet the essential requirements of the Directive before self certification can take place. The CE logo is used on the product to indicate it complies with the Directive.


The original Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (TTE) Directive was enacted in 1991 and was intended to bring about a liberalisation of the market for telephone equipment within the EU over the following years. In 1993, an additional Directive concerning Satellite Earth Station Equipment (SESE) was issued. Essentially, this Directive laid out almost identical requirements for SESE as already existed for TTE. In 1998, the two Directives were consolidated into one, 98/13/EC, but even at that time this was seen as only an interim measure, the European Commission already having expressed its dissatisfaction with the speed at which the EU market for telecoms apparatus was being opened up. Among the issues which concerned the Commission were that the rate at which the technology was changing outstripped the ability of the regulatory framework, and in particular the standards development effort, to cope, and that certain countries within the EU were still not removing barriers to trade (such as approval and licensing requirements) as the original Directive had intended.

In March 1999, therefore, a new directive, 99/5/EC was agreed. This made some significant differences to the standards and approvals requirements for this type of apparatus which pertained under the old Directives. In particular, the new Directive covered all radio communication apparatus (taking this out of the scope of the EMC Directive) and there was a simplified conformity assessment regime based on manufacturer's declarations rather than on independent tests. Finally the New Radio Equipment Directive (RED) came into force on 13th July 2016.


The objective is to provide an open market for telecoms apparatus and permit equipment which has been approved for use in one EEA country to be sold without further restriction in any other. By mandating the application of common technical requirements for apparatus within the EU, even where these are not necessarily Harmonised Standards, the Directive aims to ensure compatibility between all apparatus such that it can be used in any member state without loss of performance or danger to the user or to public communication facilities.

Implementation date

The original TTE Directive came into force on 6 November 1992, followed by the SESE Directive which came fully into force on 1 May 1995. The R&TTE Directive 99/5/EC came into force on 7 April 2000. The new Radio Equipment Directive will come fully into force in 2017.


The Directive applies to “radio equipment” which is defined as:

“an electrical or electronic product, which intentionally emits and/or receives radio waves for the purpose of radio communication and/or radiodetermination, or an electrical or electronic product which must be completed with an accessory, such as antenna, so as to intentionally emit and/or receive radio waves for the purpose of radio communication and/or radiodetermination”.

Examples of equipment which are included within the scope of the Directive are mobile radio transceivers, cell-phones, WiFi and Bluetooth equipment, satellite transceivers including GPS receivers, domestic television and radio sets and radar equipment.

It is also important to realise that equipment which is within the scope of this Directive may also fall within the scope of other Directives (in particular the Medical Devices directives) and the requirements of these directives must also be met if appropriate.


Certain equipment is specifically excluded from the Directive. These are:

Equipment for police, military and state-security purposes

Radio equipment for radio amateurs, unless it is commercially available

Equipment within the scope of directive 96/98/EC on Marine Equipment

Certain apparatus for civil aviation and air traffic management

Custom-built evaluation kits for professional users

Essential requirements

The Directive has significantly simplified Essential requirements to those contained in its predecessors, leaving the details of interpretation to the Harmonised Standards and to common technical regulations.

The basic essential requirements are that the apparatus meets the essential requirements of both the Low Voltage Directive (but without limit of voltage) and the EMC Directive. In addition, radio equipment must be constructed for efficient use of the radio spectrum and to avoid interference with terrestrial and orbital communications.

For certain equipment classes, the Commission can also introduce additional requirements to:

ensure network compatibility

prevent harm to and misuse of network resources

protect user privacy and the security of data

prevent fraud

provide access for the emergency services

facilitate the use of equipment by disabled users.

The Directive also mandates the use of a 'common charger' (basically a USB power supply)

Administration requirements

The Directives provide for a number of different routes for the administrative requirements of the Directive. For apparatus for which a harmonised standard exists, all that is required is that the manufacturer confirms by self-declaration that they meet the requirements of the harmonised standards which apply.

For apparatus for which no harmonised standard exists, manufacturers have two options. The first of these is to involve a notified body in assessing the ability of the equipment to meet the essential requirements of the Directive. The second is for the manufacturer to rely on a 'full quality assurance' approach, whereby their design and manufacturing capability is assessed by a Notified Body but individual designs of equipment are not subject to Notifed Body type testing.

Manufacturers may apply different conformity assessment procedures for the safety and EMC aspects of the product from those which are used to demonstrate compliance with the other essential requirements.

The UK government departments responsible for the RED (The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and OFCOM) have yet to update their pages with much RED specific information.

The European Commission have a special section on the Directive on their EUROPA server although at time of writing (Dec. 2016) it still refers mostly to the old R+TTE Directive and has yet to be updated with much information on the RED. Lists of Harmonised standards can be found here.

For other information on standards development, the best resource is the ETSI web site. Standards can be searched for and dowloaded free of charge here.

Further advice

For assistance and advice on CE marking for radio equipment, please contact us at Conformance.

rtte.txt · Last modified: 2017/11/24 08:58 (external edit)
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