Designated standards

Lists of standards that businesses can use to show their products, services or processes comply with essential requirements of legislation.

Designated standards can help manufacturers demonstrate their products, services or processes comply with GB law. By following designated standards, manufacturers can claim, ‘presumption of conformity’ (which can be countered by evidence) with the corresponding essential requirements. Designated standards do not replace the essential requirements and manufacturers retain full responsibility for ensuring the applicable GB law is met.

A designated standard is a standard, developed by consensus, which is recognised by government in part or in full by publishing its reference on GOV.UK in a formal notice of publication. Links are provided on this page to all pages on GOV.UK on which formal notices of publication are made available.

For the GB market, and depending on the product, a designated standard can be a standard adopted by any of the recognised standardisation bodies (the British Standards Institution (BSI), European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)) or by international standardising bodies (including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU)).

Note: The content of the standard is the responsibility of the recognised standardisation bodies. As the UK’s National Standards Body, BSI represents the interests of UK stakeholders in the development of international and regional European (not EU) standards. We encourage UK stakeholders to shape the content of a standard at the earliest stage so that when it is considered for designation there is minimal risk it will not give full coverage of the relevant essential requirements. There are different ways you can get involved in standards development:

  • view and comment on proposals for new standards
  • view and comment on draft standards
  • apply as a BSI committee member and provide input on the standards-making process

Where there is alignment with relevant EU rules, European harmonised standards are the relevant standards for demonstrating compliance with EU law when placing goods on the Northern Ireland market.

Find out about placing manufactured goods on the market in Northern Ireland

The designation process

From 1 January 2021, the GB regulatory framework enables the relevant Secretary of State to ‘designate’ standards for regulatory conformity purposes. The government ensures that the standards designated for the GB market meet the required levels of safety or energy efficiency.

To promote consistency and guidance on the designation of standards, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) leads and co-ordinates the designation process across government.

BSI updates OPSS on new or revised standards that can be considered for designation. The government assesses whether the standards put forward are suitable for the purpose of providing a presumption of conformity to relevant essential requirements in GB law. This information is shared by OPSS with the relevant government departments and agencies responsible for designation decisions.

Stakeholders wishing to propose a standard for designation should approach BSI in the first instance so that the relevant technical committee can assess if the standard is suitable to put forward for designation.

When deciding if a standard is appropriate for designation, the responsible government department or agency will assess how far it covers the essential requirements set out in the relevant GB legislation. This assessment compares the provisions of the standard with the requirements of the regulation. It does not assess the quality of the standard nor its technical adequacy, which is the responsibility of BSI. If the government requires clarification on a specific issue about the standard’s suitability for designation, it will contact the appropriate technical committee through BSI.

Government may decide to designate a standard in full; not to designate; or, to designate with restriction. Any such restrictions will be published on GOV.UK. It is important that stakeholders look at published notices for references that may be subject to restrictions in respect of essential requirements in GB law. Where a standard that is designated replaces an existing designated standard, there is a transition period during which both the new designated standard and the superseded standard give a presumption of conformity. This transition period will be made clear in the relevant published notice.

Only the application of a designated standard will give a presumption of conformity to the relevant essential requirements. There may be instances where the reference to a designated standard is accompanied by an ‘Informative Note’. The government uses informative notes as guidance to identify an error in the standard (for example where an incorrect date has been used), to provide a clarification on an ambiguity, or to advise additional or alternative actions for business to consider outside of the standard. Where additional actions are advised, it is intended to support businesses in their approach in understanding and managing risks that they may identify with their products.

OPSS maintains all designated standards pages on GOV.UK and carries out the administrative function of publishing references to standards following internal approval or when other departments and agencies have decided to designate.

The government makes its proposals to publish references to standards publicly available for 28 days, to provide an opportunity for interested parties to object if they have reason to believe that a standard proposed for designation does not meet GB essential requirements, either fully or partly.

Designated standards: new or amended notices of publication

The references will be published to designate the standards on day 29, unless the proposal is withdrawn or amended before that date, or an objection to designation is received.

The publication of references is postponed if an objection against a standard proposed for designation alleges that it does not adequately cover the relevant essential legal requirements.

Please note: The designation process cannot change the content of a standard – this can only be done by the standards bodies.

References of designated standards

Designated standards are prefixed “BS”, “EN”, “EN ISO” or “EN IEC”. The “EN” prefix indicates that the standard has been adopted by a regional European standardising body. Where the designated standard specified in the notice of publication is prefixed “EN” it is acceptable to reference this version in technical documentation, or a version of the same standard with a national prefix. This is because regional European standards are adopted identically by the 34 national members of CEN and CENELEC.

For example: BS EN 71-1:2014+A1:2018, DIN EN 71-1:2014+A1:2018, or simply EN 71-1:2014+A1:2018 are all equally acceptable. (‘DIN’ indicates the German Institute for Standardization.)

While the essential legal requirements in GB remain the same as the equivalent EU law, the informative Annex ZA/ZZ and any references to EU law in designated standards should be read as applying to the legislation for GB in the same way, subject to any restrictions or points made in the relevant notice of publication. This will change if and when the essential requirements in GB change. We have asked BSI to ensure that any new or revised designated standards map across to the essential requirements in GB.


Conformity assessment and management systems


Consumers and workers protection

Energy efficiency

Electric and electronic engineering

Healthcare engineering

Measuring technology

Mechanical engineering and means of transport

Published 3 December 2020
Last updated 27 September 2023 + show all updates
  1. Text added to clarify the purposes of informative notes.

  2. Text revised to provide more information on the designation process.

  3. Links to designated standards from 1 January 2021 added for medical devices.

  4. Links to designated standards from 1 January 2021 added for washer dryers and washing machines.

  5. Links to designated standards from 1 January 2021 added for household refrigeration appliances and conformity assessment and management systems.

  6. Links to designated standards from 1 January 2021 added for air conditioners and comfort fans, circulators, dishwashers, domestic ovens and range hoods, electric motors, power supplies, radio equipment, standby and off mode, transformers, tumble dryers and vacuum cleaners.

  7. Links to designated standards from 1 January 2021 added for construction products and cableway installations designed to carry persons.

  8. Link to designated standards from 1 January 2021 added for general product safety.

  9. Links to designated standards from 1 January 2021 added for ATEX, cosmetic products, EMC, explosives for civil uses, gas appliances, lifts, low voltage equipment, machinery, measuring instruments, NAWI, PPE, pressure equipment, pyrotechnic articles, recreational craft, RoHS, simple pressure vessels and toy safety.

  10. First published.