The fatigue design life of welded joints is increasingly assessed by using numerical methods, such as the structural (hot-spot) stress method and the effective notch stress method. When compared to the classical design approach using nominal stress S-N design curves, these methods offer the advantage of flexibility and a wider scope of application. However, a number of questionsarise when these methods are used to assess geometrically imperfect welded joints, such as joints with plate misalignments or excessive weld convexity or concavity. In these cases, the classical S-N curves are known to cover imperfections up to the common tolerance classes for fatigue-prone welded joints (e.g. in accordance with ISO 5817 class B). For the numerical methods, differing and conflicting recommendations exist on how to account for the geometric imperfections in the welded joints, with little or no background to these recommendations available.In thispaper, a study is presented in which two standard welded joints (butt welds between plates of equal and unequal thickness; T-joints with fillet welds) are analysed with the help of the structural hot-spot and the effective notch stress approach.Various levels of geometric imperfection up to tolerance limits, and theresultingfatigue life predictions,are compared to the nominal stress approach predictionsand the underlying test results from the literature. Since the nominal stress approach curves are based on reliable statistical data and desired survival probabilities for these known, standard cases, this methodology allows one to determine the correct application of the numerical methods to cases with geometric imperfections. This information may be used for a pertinent refinement of design recommendations for these methods, as well as for cases where these methods are applied to fitness-for-purpose assessments.