Expert information on the IMDS database


The International Material Database System (IMDS) is an online database and archiving system which stores information on the materials that are used to manufacture motor vehicles. Its primary aim was to simplify the recycling and reutilization of end-of-life vehicles and their parts. The IMDS was developed in 1999 by DXC Technology, which was previously known as EDS. It was set up by the automotive sector to help manufacturers and OEMs comply with the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive. Its other aim was to provide quick and secure access to data (see IMDS number).

The IMDS database was created through a joint venture between DXC Technology, and a consortium composed of Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, Opel, Porsche, VW, and Volvo. Other companies have since joined the consortium and almost all OEMs with a global presence now use the IMDS. The International Material Database System has become the international standard for the sector.

Development of the IMDS (International Material Data System) was driven by the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (EU Directive 2000/53/EC) and the German End-of-Life Vehicles Ordinance (previously the End-of-Life Automobiles Ordinance). According to the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (ELV), all vehicles must be almost completely recyclable. Manufacturers and their suppliers across the entire supply chain must therefore carefully document all the materials they utilize in every vehicle they produce. A single vehicle can be made from up to one million parts and each of these must be precisely documented. This is where the IMDS database and archiving system developed by our partner DXC Technology comes into play. Annex II to the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive is updated on a regular basis and it can be difficult to stay informed. We regularly publish updates in the “Latest News” section on our website; our ipJournal.

Data that needs to be recorded when recycling a vehicle component is entered in the IMDS database via Material Data Sheets (MDS). This ensures there is always a detailed and complete record of the materials that were used to manufacture each vehicle. The database makes it very easy to retrieve data and forward it securely along the supply chain. The IMDS also serves as an archive and management system.

According to the ELV Directive, vehicles manufactured after July 1, 2003, may not contain lead, hexavalent chromium (chromium VI), cadmium or mercury, apart from in exceptional cases, as listed in Annex II. These exceptions are being gradually revoked. The IMDS provides a record of substances that have been approved as exceptions and ensures they are being used in the correct quantities. It was later developed so that reports could be generated in accordance with other regulations such as REACH and the Biocidal Product Directive.

The system gives the IMDS consortium members and their partners in the supply sector access to all the relevant materials data. This makes it easier for automotive manufacturers and suppliers to comply with national and international standards, laws, and directives. The system also helps manufacturers and suppliers to conserve precious resources and ensures that materials are recycled as sustainably as possible. But the IMDS is not just a recycling database. A special database – the International Dismantling Information System (IDIS) – provides recycling information for those involved in reprocessing end-of-life vehicles. The main purpose of the IMDS is to provide information on the composition of materials. This allows companies to prove that they are complying with the relevant regulations.

The IMDS has evolved into the international standard for the sector. The information stored in the system helps vehicle manufacturers to compile and analyze data relating to Material Data Sheets, components, assemblies, subassemblies, and complete vehicles. IMDS data therefore helps companies to document the entire production process for complex components. The manufacturer also needs to check the Material Data Sheets against the Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL) before they can be approved.

The GADSL – Global Automotive Declarable Substance List – is a list of materials used in the automotive sector which have to be declared. As of 2021, it lists 4,008 materials. The de-identification options in the IMDS (for example, for confidential corporate information) may not be used for materials which have to be declared. This may be for different reasons: either because the law states that SVHCs (Substances of Very High Concern) must be registered or for technical reasons. A material can also be completely prohibited. In this instance, careful checks should be carried out to establish why a material is prohibited. For example, a substance may be prohibited as a biocide but allowed as a vulcanizing material. It is also possible that materials may be prohibited but still have to be declared. These are designated as “must be declared/prohibited”. In practice, this means the material is prohibited with exceptions. For example, lead is completely prohibited in automotive components but there are precisely defined exceptions for specific vehicle components.

Since 2009, the EU Type-Approval Directive has made it mandatory for OEMs to use a database similar to the IMDS. This was previously voluntary, but suppliers are now obliged to create an IMDS listing of the goods that are utilized in vehicles. Type approval is not granted without IMDS data. The IMDS data are also transferred to the type-approval authorities. The supplier must sign an appropriate framework contract when the parts are ordered. Alternatively, they must indicate in a contract that the items are going to be used in vehicles and that the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive has been taken into consideration. The EU Directive this is based on is binding. Even samples must be contractually agreed in accordance with VDA Volume 2. VDA Volume 2 now includes the provision that an acceptable MDS is a prerequisite of the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP). If these prerequisites are met, the supplier may still file a notification of defect against the supplier of the goods if there is a missing entry. If the supplier of the goods is a distributor (and not the manufacturer), they can insist that the supplier lists the items in question.

Our customized services help companies minimize liability risk and the risk of returns, which helps to safeguard an organization’s corporate image and reputation. We offer professional data management services, ranging from materials research to IMDS listing. Click here for an overview of our services.

An MDS ID No. – also known as an IMDS number – is required to create and manage Material Data Sheets for the automotive industry. As there is often confusion regarding terminology in this area, an overview of the most significant numbers in the IMDS is available here.

A material is generally made up of several basic substances. For example, steel contains both iron and several alloys. If the material is named in an international standard, the given material number must be provided.

Most basic substances in the IMDS are chemical elements from the periodic table. The CAS number is used to identify these basic substances as chemical or organic compounds. The CAS Number is also sometimes called the CAS Registry Number, the “CAS Number for Basic Substances” or the IMDS ID Number. As of 2021, approximately 14,000 basic substances are listed in the IMDS which are sorted by three types of basic substance. Basic substances can have several synonyms, which means it is best to look them up using the CAS number. “Normal basic substances”, such as water, have a CAS number which allows them to be clearly classified. “Pseudo basic substances” such as acrylic resin or horsehair do not have a CAS number. 

There are also place holders, known as wild cards. These are generic groups of materials which are harmless and never have to be declared. Dangerous materials, which fall within the generic material classification, must be specifically named. For example, the wild card “flame retardant” may only be used if the flame retardant used does not pose any safety risks. Any dangerous flame retardant from the GADSL must be stated separately. No more than ten percent of a given material can be made up of wild card substances. Basic substances which have to be declared or are prohibited may not be classified here. The IMDS system lists nine wild cards. The CAS number for these wildcards has the word “system” next to it.

The IMDS company ID is not to be confused with the MDS ID no. (see IMDS number above). The IMDS company ID is an international registration number for all automotive suppliers who use the IMDS. This number is automatically allocated when a company account is created. As the number is generated by the system, it provides information on how long a company or organizational unit has been registered on the IMDS. A company with an ID number below 60,000 is a more recent member than a company with an ID number below 1,000. Umbrella organizations are only allocated a “roof company ID” but can apply for other ID numbers for multiple units with the organization. These are often simply referred to as “IMDS numbers” within companies.

The information on materials composition stored in the International Material Data System IMDS is known as the IMDS data (Material Data Sheet – MDS). As vehicle manufacturers and suppliers are responsible for manufacturing, recycling and disposing of their products (see End-of-Life Vehicles Directive), they must make sure they carefully manage the data on the materials contained in their products. 

Every Material Data Sheet (MDS) contains all the relevant data on the materials used to make a specific component, semi-finished product, raw material, and basic substance. It is basically a summary of all the materials utilized in the manufacturing process and how much of them are contained in the individual components. This allows materials to be classified by their level of risk. The information about the composition of the components also makes it possible for them to be reconstructed. Specific entry guidelines or “recommendations” apply when creating a Material Data Sheet. Material Data Sheets are forwarded to the customer within the supply chain. The customer then integrates this information into another Material Data Sheet. The last entity to produce an MDS is the organization that supplies the component to the vehicle manufacturer.

Since January 2021, many businesses, including those in the automotive industry, have also had to submit data on Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) to the SCIP database. For this reason, IMDS Release 13.0 onwards has included new attribute fields as well as an interface from IMDS to the SCIP database. SVHC products entered into the SCIP database must have the correct TARIC code in the dataset or dossier. Customs codes already exist for almost every product traded internationally. These codes include information on the good’s classification. The TARIC code is also used when updating the SCIP database with these products. If you create dossiers for the SCIP database, you will have to classify each of your products using the TARIC code system. It is therefore important that you understand these codes and use them correctly. Our training courses teach you everything you need to know about using TARIC codes correctly with SCIP, IMDS and CDX. You will also learn how to correctly classify your products for customs purposes to ensure you comply with your SCIP notification obligations.

If you have any questions on using the IMDS, basic substances etc., you can contact the DXC Technology Service Center helpdesk. They can provide information in multiple languages depending on your location. If you need to know more about the materials themselves, please contact the automotive manufacturer directly. Contact details are available from the mdsystem.

The IMDS is based on the Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL). Recommendations for automotive manufacturers, legal documents, a summary of relevant associations and information on standards, basic substances and materials are available here:

European End-of-Life Vehicle Directive (Directive 2000/53/EC):Link
Automotive Industry Interpretation Guide for ELV Annex II:PDF
Annex II of the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (March 2016):Link
Annex II of the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (November 2017):Link
Component and material coding standards for vehicles pursuant to Directive 2000/53/EC:Link
Rules on the monitoring of the reuse/recovery and reuse/recycling targets set out in Directive 2000/53/EC:Link
Directive 2005/64/EC on the type-approval of motor vehicles with regard to their reusability, recyclability and recoverability and amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC:Link
Directive 2008/112/EC: Classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures:Link
Requirements of the automobile manufacturers:Link
IMDS User Manual (Version 13.0):PDF
IMDS Terms of Use:PDF
IMDS Release Notes:Link
IMDS process:PDF
Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL):Link
Substances on the REACH candidate list (SVHC):Link
IMDS Application Codes:Excel

Our specialist IMDS services

As a leading IMDS service provider, we offer you full service around the International Material Data System with a strong team of experienced employees and partner companies from the automotive industry.

When it’s time to call on our IMDS services

There are many reasons why our customers use our IMDS and Material Compliance services. In many situations, our service pays off particularly quickly and saves you a lot of time.

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Support services around the IMDS

Do you need help with data entry, checking Material Data Sheets, or updating out-of-date IMDS database? Or would you prefer to focus on your core business instead of IMDS listings and administration? Then you should be talking to us. Our experienced IMDS professionals can provide expert support at very short notice.

We can quickly process IMDS listings on materials, components, or complete subassemblies, resulting in shorter waiting times for your customers. Our services are available throughout the world.

The increasing complexity and constant updates to legal materials requirements and standards, such as REACH, RoHS, WEEE and conflict materials, mean your products have to be continually checked and monitored. Let us take this load off your shoulders – we can take care of all your compliance requirements, freeing you up to focus on your main priorities in your business.

If you prefer to handle these responsibilities in-house, we can also fulfil any IMDS database training requirements you may have. Our training courses are available throughout the world in multiple languages on our ipCampus training platform.

Working with the best in the business

The services we offer are second to none because of the close working relationships we have developed with IMDS experts at automotive OEMs. This means we always have our fingers on the pulse and are often able to reduce Material Data Sheet acceptance times, saving you considerable time and effort. What’s more, the knowledge we gain from working closely with OEMs enables us to pass on this specialist knowledge during our high-quality training courses.

And as an additional bonus, you can subscribe to our specialist magazine, the ipJournal which is full of the latest news and tips on Environmental Product Compliance – completely free of charge!

Count on our experience for IMDS success 

imds professional was one of the first companies to provide specialist IMDS services in the world. We have been providing countless organizations with first-class consulting, training, and support services since 1999.

Today, we are one of the leading providers of IMDS services, serving customers across the globe. We work closely with MDS developers at DXC Technology, so we are always at the forefront of the latest developments.

The advice and training you gain from our qualified and experienced employees and trainers are always up to date and delivered in a polished and efficient way. Our IMDS training courses are authorized by DXC.

dition to this, we have on-going contact with the IMDS Steering Committee which allows us to pass on all the latest information to you through our training courses. The quality of our services is endorsed by Dr. Helmut Traiser, official Materials Data Management consultant of the IMDS Steering Committee.