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The value of standards

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The value of standards

What is a harmonised European standard?

Harmonised European standards are developed under a mandate issued by the European Commission and/or the European Free Trade Association, in order to provide a means to comply with a European directive or regulation. They are drafted and adopted by the European standards organisations, i.e. the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) or the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

The references of these standards are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

List of harmonised European standards.

Which standards are available in Dutch?

Belgian standards developed at national level by a Belgian standardisation committee are always available in Dutch. A limited number of European and international standards are also published in Dutch. You can consult our catalogue to check the availability of a Dutch version of a standard.

How many Belgian companies are ISO 9001-certified?

Many Belgian companies are certified according to the ISO 9001 standard. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides certain data on the number of companies certified according to ISO 9001 and other management standards.

How can I consult a standard?

You can consult standards free of charge in our library, which holds over 33,000 Belgian, European and ISO standards.

Opening hours:
- Monday to Thursday from 9am to 4pm
- Friday from 9am to 1pm

If you wish to consult any standards, please contact us in advance. 

I want to have my product tested or inspected. Can NBN assist me?

NBN is not a testing laboratory or an inspection body. Please visit the BELAC website, where you will find a list of all Belgian testing laboratories and inspection bodies.

I am looking for a certification body, for instance for ISO 9001 or ISO 14001. Can NBN assist me?

NBN is not a certification body. Please visit the BELAC website, where you will find a list of all Belgian certification bodies.

Who do I contact for Unified Technical Specifications (STS)?

Unified Technical Specifications (STS) are documents that help the client or project designer to draw up the specifications of a project. For more information, visit the website of the FPS for the Economy.

What is a standard?

A standard is an agreement about a product, a service or a process. Standards reflect best practices in many areas of activity in industry, the service sector and the public sector. 

Are standards protected by copyright?

Yes, standards are protected by copyright and, as such, may not be reproduced and/or distributed. When buying a paper or digital version of a standard, you are only entitled to make personal use of it. Copying or reproducing all or part of the content of a standard (e.g. text, illustrations or tables) is prohibited without permission from NBN.

Are standards available free of charge ?

No, there are no standards available free of charge, as their development entails costs. The price of a standard may vary according to the country where it is sold.

Am I allowed to reproduce text from a standard?

No, because standards are protected by copyright. Reproducing all or part of the contents of a standard is prohibited without permission from NBN.

Are standards mandatory ?

A standard is not a law, but it can be voluntarily applied by all stakeholders: producers, suppliers, customers, service providers, etc. This does not mean that compliance with a standard cannot become mandatory. On the one hand, public authorities can refer to standards in legislation and regulations. On the other, contracts can also refer to the application of standards.

Am I allowed to copy standards?

No, because standards are protected by copyright and, as such, may not be copied.

What is standardisation?

Standardisation is the process of creating a standard. Interested parties agree on the specific characteristics of a product, service or process. Standardisation takes place in committees with representatives of all stakeholders, on the basis of consensus, with all participants having an equal say.

What is an international standard?

An international standard (ISO standard) is developed at global level by the members of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). There is no obligation to transpose an international standard into a national standard.

What is a European standard?

A European standard (EN standard) is developed by the members of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and must be transposed into a Belgian standard (NBN EN) once it has been approved by the CEN members. It can be identified by the use of ‘EN’ in its reference (for example: NBN EN 672).

What is a Belgian standard?

A Belgian standard can be:

  • a standard developed by a Belgian standardisation committee to meet the needs of the Belgian market
  • a European standard transposed into a Belgian standard
  • an international standard transposed into a Belgian standard

Does a standard have an unlimited lifespan?

The lifespan of a standard is limited, as standardisation is an evolving process.

- European and international standardisation: at the latest every five years, a systematic review takes place to verify wether the standard is still up to date. If the standard is subsequently revised, the new version replaces the previous one.

- Belgian standardisation: Belgian standards are not subjected to systematic assessment/review. The latest version of the standard remains valid.

What is certification?

In the context of standardisation, certification refers to the attestation by a third party that a product or service meets the specific requirements of a standard.

You can apply for an attestation by a third party (laboratory, certification/inspection body) of the conformity of your product or service. This means that the conformity of this product or service is verified against the requirements of the applicable standard. Here you will find a list of accredited bodies that can certify your products.

NBN is not a certification body, so it does not issue certificates.