Understanding BMW Headlight Markings: E1, E4, and E14

Understanding BMW Headlight Markings: E1, E4, and E14

Mar 4, '21

‘E1’ Approval Information
Is this the best bulb? Is an E1 bulb better than an E4 or E14?


While all 'E' markings are legal, the German 'E1' mark is recognized as being of the highest standards and is more rigorously enforced. These standards are based on those of Original Equipment (OE) manufacturers, leading to the term OE Equivalent quality.


To avoid any misunderstanding, the term ‘E’ approved is the European requirement for lights on vehicles to conform to performance standards. This number showing the Approval country and manufacturer is then marked on the product. (E Marked)


Germany monitors very carefully, the use of their approval (E1). This is done through the KBA (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt) Federal Motor Transport Authority, who both authorise and audit the products and test facilities of those permitted to use E1. 


Any bulb ranges offering E1 type bulbs has approval due to it complying with the German KBA regulations. 


Before a Type Approval can be issued, applicants are required to complete a initial assessment  procedure.


The KBA verifies quality assurance measures and products of approval holders on a basis of continuous spot checks. KBA staff or staff from other organisations commissioned by the KBA, visit the production facilities of manufacturers or the warehouses of importers and examine vehicles and vehicle components for compliance with the approved type. If deviations are observed, measures for rectification of deficiencies are taken in order to ensure compliance with production.


Significant deviations from series production may have an adverse impact on road safety. This will lead to a withdrawal of the Type Approval.


International ECE markings
ECE/EEC marking: Country of Approval 
Firstly, what are those numbers that come after the "E" in the circle or the "e" in the box? What makes a lamp marked (E6) [e6] different from a lamp marked (E1) [e1]? 


The uppercase "E" in a circle means the device is type approved to an ECE Regulation, while the lowercase "e" in a box indicates the device is type approved to an EEC Directive. It's rare to find one marking without the other, since the requirements are essentially identical. The number after the "E" or "e" signifies the country in which approval was granted. This doesn't necessarily indicate anything about the quality or performance of the device, though some countries' test-and-approval labs have reputations for being much stricter and others have reputations for being quite lax. The number also doesn't indicate where the device was designed or manufactured. Under ECE and EEC regulations, an item of motor vehicle equipment type approved in any ECE or EEC member country is acceptable for use in any other country that permits or requires vehicles and vehicle components conforming to ECE or EEC safety regulations.

Here is a Country Code of the relevant “E” numbers: 


1 Germany 
2 France 
3 Italy 
4 Netherlands 
5 Sweden 
6 Belgium 
7 Hungary 
8 Czechoslovakia
9 Spain 
10 Yugoslavia 
11 United Kingdom 
12 Austria 
13 Luxembourg 
14 Switzerland 
16 Norway 
17 Finland 
18 Denmark 
19 Romania 
20 Poland 
21 Portugal 
22 Russia 
23 Greece 
24 Ireland 
25 Croatia 
26 Slovenia 
27 Slovakia 
 28 Belarus 
29 Estonia 
31 Bosnia-Herzegovina 
32 Latvia 
34 Bulgaria 
37 Turkey 
40 Yugoslavia-Macedonia 
42 Special EC 
43 Japan 
45 Australia 
46 Ukraine 
47 South Africa