Standards for products and services

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Checked 20 Feb 2024
1 min read
Nederlandse versie

Are you a manufacturer or trader? Your products or services may need to meet certain standards. There are norms for, for example, toys, electric devices, or medical instruments. The Netherlands Standardisation Institute (NEN) develops and manages these standards.

What are standards?

Governments, manufacturers, traders, and consumer organisations can agree to set standards for products, services, and production processes. These are agreements about, among others:

  • safety
  • quality
  • sustainability

If you use a standard, you show that your product or service meets certain requirements. Making agreements on services, products, and production methods is called standardisation.

Standards in law and regulations

In most cases you do not have to use a standard. Standards are not laws. But sometimes a law or regulation requires you to use a standard. For example, if:

  • using the standard is the only way for you to comply with the law (you have to keep to the standard in this case)
  • the standard is not mandatory, but your product or service needs to meet similar requirements. If you meet these requirements, you automatically meet the standard.

European standards can be used to support EU legislation and policies.

Standardisation Institutes

In the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Standardisation Institute (Stichting Koninklijk Normalisatie Instituut, NEN) works with governments, (trade) associations, manufacturers, and service providers on setting up standards. NEN also makes sure the standards are up to date. The institute manages the national standards, European standards (EN), and international standards (ISO, IEC) that are accepted in the Netherlands. There are 3 recognised European standardisation organisations: CEN and CENELEC, and ETSI. They are responsible for the European standards.

The costs of using standards

You have to pay in order to use standards. You can buy standards for your trade from NEN (in Dutch). Are you required by law to use a particular NEN standard? Then these standards are available free of charge.

Does a law refer to a standard, but is the use of this standard not mandatory? In these cases, you will have to pay the regular price for this standard.

This webpage is part of an EU quality network