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Standards for products and services

This information is provided by:Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVONetherlands Enterprise Agency, RVOLast updated on Nederlandse versie

Are you a manufacturer or trader? Your products or services may need to meet certain standards. For instance, 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 and services. These are agreements about among others safety, quality, and sustainability of services, products, and production methods. This is called standardisation. You do not have to use a standard. If you use a standard, you show that your product or service meets certain requirements.

Standardisation Institutes

In the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Standardisation Institute (Stichting Koninklijk Normalisatie Instituut, NEN) helps governments, (trade) associations, manufacturers and service providers with setting up standards. NEN 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.

Standards in law and regulations

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
  • the standard is not mandatory, but your product or service needs to meet similar requirements.

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

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.

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