There is great interest in developing an adequate partial factor format for the assessment of existing structures, and in particular bridges, that should be able to take various aspects into account linked to the fact that the structure already exists. As the structure is existing, additional information related to material parameters, loading conditions, local structural defects, etc. can be accounted for. In addition, the degree of conservatism needs to be well balanced to avoid unnecessary investment of resources in replacement or retrofitting. This contribution considers the experience gained in recent years in parallel with some ongoing standardisation work in relation to Eurocodes and the next edition of the fib Model Code for new and existing concrete structures. The current state of the art of partial factors for the assessment of existing structures is explored and the differences are assessed based on a comparison between (i) the use of recommended fixed partial factors as provided in many national and international codes, (ii) adjusted (flexible) partial factors derived for the individual case under consideration, and (ii) reliability-based verification. In order to assess the adequacy of proposals and identify some differences, the available partial factor formats are applied to two case studies of reinforced concrete bridges and they are critically assessed.