How are standards made?

Standards come from co-operation and agreement

A standard is a collective work. Representatives of organizations having an interest and expertise in the subject matter are brought together by BSI to form a technical committee to draw up the standard, with our staff facilitating their development and review.

Typically, our technical committees comprise representatives of industry bodies, research and testing organizations, local and central government, consumers and standards users.

We have more than 100 years’ experience of shaping standards – leading and facilitating the process of reaching consensus among experts. We ensure standards committees are representative, inclusive and accessible and the process is rigorous and transparent.We apply specific principles for drafting standards that help to ensure that our standards are authoritative and widely respected. These principles are set out in BS 0 (PDF) and PAS 0 (PDF).

Most British Standards are developed at an international level, either through organizations that work globally (i.e. ISO and IEC) or just within Europe (i.e. CEN, CENELEC and ETSI). BSI is closely involved with these organizations at all levels and its technical committees almost always nominate members to participate in the development of international standards.

BSI is obliged to adopt all European standards (ENs) developed by CEN, CENELEC and ETSI and to withdraw any exiting British Standards that conflict with them. This obligation does not apply to international standards, although there is a general presumption that we will adopt them unless there are strong reasons for not doing so.

Adoption entails giving the special status of “British Standard” (BS) which indicates that the standard has been developed according to the principles set out in BS 0.

We also develop British Standards entirely within the UK, covering subjects not covered by international standardization.

The development time for a British Standard ranges between one and four years, depending on the complexity of the subject and the range of stakeholders involved. For this reason, international standards usually take longer to develop than those produced locally.

British Standards are not the only type of standard we produce. Some of these, particularly PASs  can often be developed in much shorter timescales.