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This Directive applies to the design, manufacture, conformity assessment and periodic reassessment of transportable cylinders, tubes, cryogenic vessels and tanks for transporting gases as well as hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen fluoride and hydrofluoric acid. It also covers associated valves and includes both refillable and non-refillable cylinders. It applies to existing equipment as well as new equipment introduced since the implantation date, 1st July 2001. Existing equipment is checked for compliance during periodic assessments. A specific list of exclusions from this directive exists.

The Directive defines three categories of pressure equipment, based on pressure volume in bar.litres and hence its stored energy. Assessment and conformity procedures are different for each category, ranging from occasional auditing of test procedures for the lowest (category I) hazard up to full ISO9001 quality management and/or notified body type examination for category 3 equipment. Aspects of the design, production and testing of the equipment are the subject of a large number of harmonized standards. In addition to ensuring that the equipment is capable of meeting the performance requirements of the directive, manufacturers must also complete a specified declaration of conformity and they must compile and maintain a technical file of information about how the equipment was designed and manufactured and supply it to the Notified body. The ADR specifies what needs to be marked on the equipment and included in the instructions.