Motorcycle Helmet Standards: DOT, SNELL, ECE 22.05

You may hear people around you say that they have standard helmets and you wonder how the standards are applied? 

Well, in this post, we will help you to understand the three most common motorcycle helmet standards which are DOT, ECE 22.05, and Snell.

 There is no better standard, the difference is in where they are applied and compare helmets, and one helmet is not necessarily certified by only one standard.

 Let take a look at the explanation below to get deeper knowledge.

DOT Motorcycle helmet standards

DOT means “Department of Transportation” and the standard applied by DOT is the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218 (FMVSS 218) which is used to evaluate motorcycle helmets sold in America.

 DOT certified helmets are applicable for on-road use, but it doesn’t mean you can not wear them for off-road purposes or competitions.  

To have the permanent “DOT” emblem on the helmet products, each manufacturer itself tests and certifies their models to demonstrate that their helmets bring safety to users.  

dot helmet certification


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the third-party involves in the test, will randomly check some sample helmets and penalize manufacturers not complying with the requirements.

 The penalties can be up to 5,000 dollars for each non-compliant helmets. 

The FMVSS 218 evaluates motorcycle helmets based on their performance and how they can protect users. 

Whereby, the outside vision must be at least 105° from the helmet midline. Also, the acceleration of the helmets when it drops off from a fixed height will not exceed 400 G. 

The test procedure includes impact tests, penetration tests, and retention system tests. 

Over the years, some new changes have been added to the testing process, however, they basically do not bring a great difference. 

In order to easily recognize non-compliant helmets and manufacturers, FMVSS 218 requires the label on the product must follow these rules: the label must include the product number or name.

The word “DOT” must be placed under the manufacturer’s name, “FMVSS 218” is under “DOT”, and “Certified” below “FMVSS 218”.  

Note that a helmet will have both “DOT” and “ECE 22.05’ or bot “DOT” and “Snell”. 

ECE 22.05 Motorcycle helmet standard

ECE represents “Economic Commission for Europe”, and 22.05 is the specific decree displayed in the standard. 

This standard has been applied in forty-seven counties and has some common features with the DOT such as the peripheral vision must be at least 105° and the labeling requirements are also similar. 

These two standards have the same testing areas which are the impact absorption test, the retention system test, and the penetration test.

ece helmet certification

So, what makes ECE 22.05 differs from DOT? ECE has an additional testing area which is the chin strap buckle system. 

This process includes strap material testing, the slippage under load, and the durability of the buckle system. 

The abrasion resistance test is also added to the list. The rigidity of the helmet shell is also tested. 

This process tests the level of deformation of the helmet under a force of 630 newtons. 

There is no penetration resistance test in the ECE, rather the retroreflective materials test is included. 

ECE will directly test the sample. It uses codes to distinguish hats according to their characteristics.

For example, ECE 22.05J mean helmets without lower face covers, ECE 22.05P for helmets with securing lower face cover, and helmets having ECE 22.05NP code mean they do have the lower face cover but not able to protect users. 

Snell helmet standard

Snell or Snell Memorial Foundation was founded in 1957.

This is an unprofitable institution that works with the aim of improving the helmet quality. 

Snell uses the Foundation’s standardized tests to evaluate helmets. Following this, manufacturers wanting to get Snell certification will submit their samples to Snell. 

snell helmet certification

Once all the tests are passed, the certified helmets will have the Snell label on them. 

Once the helmets have been inspected, the manufacturer will have to keep the production process unchanged. 

Through random audits, helmets violating regulations will be decertified. 

Snell standard is not always required but in some cases, you must present it to some competition sanctioning bodies. 

This standard evaluates helmets through four areas which are the impact absorption, the retention system, the penetration resistance, and the flame resistance. 

Similar to ECE, the Snell standard also uses codes to distinguish types of helmets by the object of use. 

For example, ‘’M” is Motorcycle, Special Application (SA), CMR (Children’s Motorsports Restricted), CMS (Children’s Motorsports Standard), K (Karting).

Thanks to these standards, you can omit the search and verification of helmets yourself, so the cost of products can be a little bit higher than the average price. But think about your safety, buying a standard helmets definitely worth it. So above are some helmet standards HelmetsZone just listed out. We hope this article can help you have a better understanding.

Related posts: 

+ Reasons why you shouldn’t buy a helmet that has been used.

+ How to prevent hair loss due to wearing a motorcycle helmet ?

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