Our history

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). 

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 Games for 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.



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

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


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.

    • 1999: 
      acquired Singapore-based certification organization
       - opened offices in Brazil, India, Japan, Korea, Spain, Poland and France
    • 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.
    • 1995: established its first Asian office, BSI Pacific Ltd, in Hong Kong 
    • 1992: BS 7750, the world’s first standard for environmental management systems, inspired ISO 14001, the international standard for environmental management systems that has helped organizations across the world improve their environmental performance
    • 1991: established BSI Americas
    • 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. 


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.

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 1953: the BSI Kitemark was applied to domestic furniture, pressure cookers and motorcycle helmets to help consumers know whether goods were well produced. 
    • 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).


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.

    • 1945: a BSI Kitemark licences was issued for copper pipe fittings that is still going strong today – it’s the longest running BSI Kitemark.
    • 1942: the British Government officially recognized BSI as the sole organization for issuing national standards. 
    • 1939-45: during World War II ordinary standards work was stopped and efforts were concentrated on producing over 400 ‘war emergency standards'.
    • 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.


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.