Reading inspection stickers: their meaning and what they are used for

  • Where are inspection stickers needed? In addition to their common use in the automotive sector, test stickers are mainly used in the commercial sector for machines and systems. There they serve to ensure occupational safety. But the plaques can also serve as a safety reminder in the private sector by reminding them of regular maintenance.
  • What does a test sticker say? Using the numbers on the sticker and the type of attachment or a corresponding marking, it can be read from the test sticker when the last test or examination took place or when the device or object needs to be tested next.
  • When is an inspection sticker mandatory? In the operational area, regular inspection and thus the sticker is mandatory, for example for systems and machines such as elevators, construction site equipment, but also for smaller electronic devices such as ladders, fire extinguishers and much more. In the private sector, inspection stickers are voluntary, with the exception of the TÜV seal.

Inspection sticker on license plate

Every car owner has probably come across inspection stickers at least once. But it’s not just in the automotive sector that test labels have to be read: in many other areas, for example in industry, they serve to ensure the Occupational safety and document the test status of machines, systems and devices. And the stickers with the many numbers can also provide additional security in private households. They are placed on fire extinguishers, heaters, fuse boxes and many other electronic devices and serve as a reminder of the regular maintenance of these objects. Find out in our guide what types there are, how to read a TÜV test sticker, what the meaning of the colors is and much more.

1. An inspection sticker is mandatory in these areas

In order to give you a better overview of the common inspection stickers, we will briefly introduce you to some well-known versions. In the table below you can also see whether the inspection sticker is mandatory in the respective area and what a test is good for.

Inspection sticker Characteristics
Motor vehicle badge
  • Testing ensures that vehicles are roadworthy
  • General and emissions inspection every two years
  • mandatory for every vehicle owner
Fire extinguisher test seal
  • Testing ensures the functionality of the extinguisher
  • In the operational area, the test is mandatory every two years
  • Although not mandatory in the private sector, it makes sense in an emergency
Test stickers for elevator systems
  • Testing ensures the functionality and maintenance of the elevator
  • Mandatory for landlords of houses with such a system
  • must be repeated every two years
Test stickers for electrical devices
  • A distinction is made between mobile and stationary systems/machines
  • In the operational area, it is mandatory every four years (fixed) or every two years (mobile).
  • not mandatory in the private sector

In addition to those mentioned, there are many other areas in which a Plaque on the work equipment is mandatory. The obligation to test also applies to extractor ventilation systems, beverage dispensing systems, ladders and even to skittles and bowling systems that are used in the commercial sector. Separate rules apply to examinations and test stickers in the medical sector.

Even if, apart from the well-known TÜV sticker on the car, most test stickers are not mandatory for private use, It may still make sense to install them for your own safety, as many domestic electrical appliances, for example, can pose a fire risk if they are outdated. In addition, for example, a test sticker on the heater can show when it was last serviced, which can be an advantage for smooth functionality.

man sticks inspection sticker on fire extinguisher

Regular maintenance and testing of fire extinguishers can be life-saving in an emergency.

2. How to read the inspection sticker correctly

If you take a closer look at a test sticker for the first time, you may not be able to immediately tell which number stands for what. Once you figure it out, it’s actually quite easy to find out when the next examination or exam is due. We will briefly and concisely explain to you how to read an inspection sticker correctly.

2.1. Numbers on the inspection sticker

The most common inspection stickers are designed so that there is a number in the middle of the round label and the numbers one to twelve are printed on the edge. The large number in the middle of the plaque represents the year in which the next exam is due. Depending on how the plaque was attached, one of the twelve marginal numbers points upwards. This number, located at the 12 o’clock position, represents the month of the next exam.

There are also multi-year inspection stickers that are divided into 2-3 years and use a marking to indicate the most recent or upcoming inspection.

2.2. Special features of the TÜV sticker on the car

What exactly is TÜV?

TÜV is the abbreviation for Technical Inspection Association and is an association of technical testing organizations. Due to its former monopoly position, many people equate the term TÜV with the general inspection (HU), which is mandatory for vehicle owners. In fact, some other organizations are also allowed to carry out these tests.

The inspection sticker on the car, which is issued by state-recognized organizations such as TÜV, is structured like a standard sticker, but each has its own color assignments depending on the year in the middle. The badge where the next test will take place in 2021 is yellow, for 2022 it is brown and for 2024 it is green.

There are also black bars below and above the outer numbers 1, 12 and 11. As is the color of the inspection sticker These markings are used by law enforcement officers who can see at a glance whether the vehicle in question has a valid general inspection, and if necessary, remove the owner of the vehicle from circulation. The sticker for your vehicle is placed exactly in the middle of the rear license plate.

Danger: If the deadline for the next general inspection is missed, there is a risk Fines from €15 to €60depending on the period of exceedance.

3. How should an inspection sticker be attached?

man sticks inspection sticker on

Attach the sticker to a smooth, clean surface so that you can read your next test appointment from the test sticker at any time.

If you would like to attach a test sticker yourself for private or commercial use, there are a few aspects to consider. Because the plaques are stickers, it is important that they are applied to the correct surface. Some materials, such as synthetics or homogeneous plastics, can be permanently damaged by adhesives and should therefore not come into contact with the sticker.

It is also important that the test sticker can adhere to the respective surface. Very smooth, dust-free surfaces that do not heat up significantly or are exposed to other extreme conditions are suitable.

Besides that The test label must not be attached to important manufacturer information and standard markings and cover them up. In the operational area, this can ensure that the manufacturer can no longer be held liable for damages because changes have been made to components of the product. Of course, reading the inspection sticker itself should also be possible without any problems.

Image credits: stock.adobe.com/studio v-zwoelf, stock.adobe.com/RioPatuca Images, stock.adobe.com/topshots (sorted chronologically or according to the order of the images used in the buying guide)