Our history

Since 1901 - 1914 In the beginning

Formed in 1901 by Sir John Wolfe-Barry - the man who designed London’s Tower Bridge - BSI was the world’s first National Standards Body. The original BSI committee met for the first time on the day Queen Victoria died – 22 January 1901. One of the first standards it went on to publish related to steel sections for tramways.
The BSI Kitemark was first registered by BSI on 12 June 1903 – the same year in which Harley Davidson, Crayola crayons and the Tour de France were born. Originally known as the British Standard Mark, it has grown into one of Britain’s most important and most recognized consumer quality marks.

1914 – 1945 Standardization grows

During the 1920s, standardization spread to Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Interest was also developing in the USA and Germany.

  • 1929: the Engineering Standards Committee was granted a Royal Charter. A supplemental Charter was granted in 1931 changing the name, finally, to The British Standards Institution.
  • 1939-45: during World War II ordinary standards work was stopped and efforts were concentrated on producing over 400 ‘war emergency standards'.
  • 1942: the British Government officially recognized BSI as the sole organization for issuing national standards. 
  • 1945: a BSI Kitemark licences was issued for copper pipe fittings that is still going strong today – it’s the longest running BSI Kitemark.

1946 – 1975 International consolidation and consumer concerns

Standards were published for subjects such as checking air pollution, nuclear energy, safety colours for use in industry, schools and office furniture and the carrying of live animals by air.

  • 1946: saw the first ever Commonwealth Standards Conference, held in London and organized by BSI, which led to the establishment of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
  • 1953: the BSI Kitemark was applied to domestic furniture, pressure cookers and motorcycle helmets to help consumers know whether goods were well produced. 
  • 1951: the Women’s Advisory Committee was formed to advise on standards affecting the domestic consumer. It was the precursor of today’s Consumer and Public Interest Network which coordinates consumer representation on all BSI’s technical committees for consumer products.
  • 1955: BSI opened a new Kitemark testing facility at Hemel Hempstead. The same year Government regulations introduced the compulsory application of the BSI Kitemark for car seat belts and motorcycle helmets.

1975 – 2000 Management systems standards

During this period, BSI helped shape many of the world’s management systems standards, including the three most widely adopted for quality, the environment and health and safety. BSI also began its international expansion.

  • 1979: published the UK's first management systems quality standard, BS 5750 – it led to the ISO 9000 series of international standards. ISO 9001 has benefited millions of organizations globally, with users reporting increased growth and productivity and significantly higher customer satisfaction and retention. 
  • 1991: established BSI Americas
  • 1992: BS 7750, the world’s first standard for environmental management systems, inspired ISO 140001, the international standard for environmental management systems that has helped organizations across the world improve their environmental performance
  • 1995: established its first Asian office, BSI Pacific Ltd, in Hong Kong 
  • 1996: published BS8800 which would inspire BS OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management, helping companies keep people safe and achieve the best possible working conditions.
  • 1999: 
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     acquired Singapore-based certification organization
     - opened offices in Brazil, India, Japan, Korea, Spain, Poland and France

2000 - Present BSI significantly increases its global footprint and service offering 

BSI has played a leading role in developing a new generation of standards to help organizations become better governed and more responsible such as anti-bribery, organizational governance and asset management. BSI has also increased collaboration with experts in new fields such as smart cities, nanotechnologies, cell therapy and Building Information Modelling (BIM). 

BSI invested in new business areas, new offices and formed new partnerships:  

  • 2001: 
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     opened BSI Eurasia office in Istanbul, Turkey
  • 2002:
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     acquired KPMG's ISO Canadian and US registration business, making BSI number 1 in North American management systems assessment market
  • 2003:
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     BSI became a Business Superbrand, a status it still enjoys today
    - consolidated penetration of the immense Greater China certification market by acquiring 100 per cent of BSI Pacific Ltd
  • 2004:
    -
     acquired KPMG Certification B.V in Holland to provide an enhanced range of services to businesses across the Benelux region and the rest of continental Europe
  • 2006: 
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     acquired Entropy International Ltd, a leading provider of performance and sustainability software solutions
    - expanded into the German and Australian markets through the acquisition of German certification business NIS ZERT and Benchmark Certification Pty Ltd,  Australia's second largest certification body
  • 2007: 
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     opened its Thai office to consolidate its presence in fast growing South East Asia
  • 2009:
    -
     acquired Supply Chain Security Division of First Advantage Corporation, USA and expanded into the Italian market through the acquisition of Certification International S.r.l.
    - to strengthen its Healthcare business, BSI acquired EUROCAT, the German healthcare certification and testing company.
  • 2010:
    - opened new offices in Qatar and Saudi Arabia
    - acquired gas certification body GLCS, the leading certifier of gas related consumer equipment in the UK and one of the top three in Europe.
    - extended its presence in Italy and Indonesia through the acquisition of BSS Italia (BSI's partner since 2007), and Systems Management Indonesia. 
  • 2011:
    -
     opened a new Europe, Middle East, Africa headquarters in Milton Keynes, certified in line with BREEAM, the world’s foremost environmental assessment method for buildings.
  • 2013:
    - acquired NCS International in Australia, enhancing its global product offering in the key sectors of agri-food and healthcare
  • 2014:
    - BSI inaugurated the BSI Standards Awards to officially recognize the outstanding contributions of the community of over 10,000 independent experts and the 1,200 committees, the heart of developing standards
  • 2015:
    -
     with the acquisition of USA-based EORM and Hill Country Environmental Inc BSI entered the environmental, health, safety and engineering consultancy market
    - acquired the management systems certification business of PwC in South Africa.

British Standards continue to inspire international standardization: BS 8901 for sustainability management systems for events inspired ISO 20121 which was used in 2012 by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and by the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Gamesfor truly sustainable events.

As a result of these strategic moves, and through more than a century of growth, BSI now delivers a comprehensive business services portfolio to clients, helping them raise their performance and enhance their competitiveness worldwide.