The new block exemption regulation (BER) classifies bodyshops as independent operators but they will not be able to apply for authorised repairer status, says the federation.
Ray Holloway, director of the RMI's independent garage fuel division, explained: 'Despite all that BER promised, at the moment the best hope for bodyshops remains a sub-contracted arrangement through an authorised repairer. Bodyshops themselves cannot become authorised repairers.
'Minimum entry criteria to becoming an authorised repairer under a vehicle manufacturer includes providing diagnostic, maintenance and mechanical repairs of the sort that independent bodyshops do not provide.'
The RMI is running a series of regional meetings for bodyshop members, giving advice on industry issues.
RMI members can contact the RMI's bodyshop services division for details.