European Railway Agency - ERA

Making the railway system work better for society.

Applications for single safety certificates

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Access to the railway infrastructure is granted only to railway undertakings that hold a valid single safety certificate.

The single safety certificate gives evidence that the railway undertaking has established its safety management system and is able to comply with its legal obligations.

A single safety certificate is valid for a given area of operation, i.e. a network or networks within one or more Member States where the railway undertaking intends to operate.

Who must apply for a single safety certificate?

The railway undertakings whose business is to transport goods and/or passengers, whether or not their activities are limited to providing traction only, must hold a valid single safety certificate to be granted access to the railway infrastructure.

How do I make an application?

Applicants should read the Commission Implementing Regulation establishing practical arrangements for issuing single safety certificates and the related ERA guidance, which provides information about the legislation, application process and what is required from the applicant.

The ERA application guide is supplemented by the application guide of the National Safety Authority or Authorities (NSAs) concerned by the intended area of operation. The national guide should describe and explain the national administrative procedures, including the documents to be submitted by the applicant to demonstrate compliance with the national rules, the applicable language policy of the NSA (or the Member State) and further information on the way to appeal against their decisions. Please refer to the website of the NSA for more information.

The application is made to the safety certification body. The process is the same no matter if ERA or the NSA is the safety certification body (single European process). In the case of rail operations in more than one Member State, ERA will be the safety certification body. Otherwise the applicant can choose whether to apply to ERA or to the relevant NSA.

All applications for a single safety certificate must be electronically submitted through the One-Stop Shop (OSS). This includes any new, update or renewal application for a single safety certificate.

Before submitting its application for a single safety certificate, the applicant can also submit a ‘pre-engagement’ request which aims at enabling the authority or authorities concerned with the area of operation to become familiar with the applicant's safety management system, clarifying how the safety assessment process will be conducted and how decisions will be made and verifying that the applicant has received sufficient information to know what is expected of it. Such pre-engagement is optional for the applicant but mandatory for the safety certification body and/or the NSAs concerned with the area of operation. It covers all prior formal exchanges of information between the applicant, the safety certification body, the concerned NSAs and other interested parties, before the actual submission of the application.

In its role as safety certification body, ERA applies an hourly rate of 130€. The NSA or NSAs concerned with the area of operation can charge ERA for the national part of the assessment. The NSAs’ rates relevant for establishing the costs charged to ERA are available on the website of each NSA.

The calculation method of the fees and charges payable to ERA and their conditions of payment are set out in Commission implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/764.

If you are a potential applicant and wish to follow a training session on the OSS organised by ERA, please consult the OSS Training guidelines.

Where can I find the decision about my application?

All decisions following an application for a single safety certificate can be found in the One-Stop Shop (OSS). The applicant can only access information pertaining to its respective applications.

The single safety certificates are published in the European Railway Agency Database of Interoperability and Safety (ERADIS).

When does the new safety certification regime apply?

From now on, the safety certification regime set out in Regulation (EU) 2018/763 applies in all EU Member States.

The decisions issued by the Agency should exclude the network(s) of Norway and Switzerland until further notice.

Can I submit an application which includes border stations (or sections)?

Although there is no definition of border station (or section) in Directive (EU) 2016/798, it is stipulated in its Article 10(8) that “the single safety certificate shall also be valid without an extension of the area of operations for railway undertakings travelling to stations in neighbouring Member States with similar network characteristics and similar operating rules, when those stations are close to the border”.

Before the submission of your application for a single safety certificate, you are invited to contact the relevant national safety authority to confirm whether the station (or stations) in its territory are border stations pursuant to Directive (EU) 2016/798, and existing cross-border agreement(s) (or case-by-case arrangements) apply.

For more information, please read our clarification note and consult the informative list of border stations.