Australia's trade measurement laws
If you're producing, importing or selling goods in your business, you need to make sure that they comply with Australia’s trade measurement laws.
What are the trade measurement laws?
Australia’s trade measurement laws are administered by the National Measurement Institute (NMI). The Institute is also responsible for maintaining the main standards of measurement and providing the legal and technical framework for measurement standards.
Trade measurement laws cover:
- the definition of the legal units of measurement
- the use of measuring instruments for trade
- testing and verification of these measuring instruments
- transactions by measurement
- pre-packed articles (including labelling requirements)
- licensing of the businesses that verify trade measuring instruments
- licensing of public weighbridges.
Do trade measurement laws apply to me?
Businesses that sell goods by measurement, or that manufacture, pack, import or sell pre-packaged goods, are required to comply with the Australian trade measurement laws:
All businesses must comply with these laws if they:
- sell goods by measurement (such as weighing fruit and vegies for sale)
- manufacture, pack, import or sell pre-packaged goods; or
- supply or maintain measuring instruments.
How to comply with trade measurement laws
The laws apply to both wholesale and retail businesses. If your business is caught short-measuring its customers, you could be fined:
- up to $170,000 per offence as a company
- up to $34,000 per offence as an individual.
What your business needs to do
Manufacturers, packers, importers and retailers have a duty to carry out sufficient checks to ensure that all batches of pre-packaged articles meet the legislative requirements for correct measurement, including requirements for the position, size and format of measurement labels.
Read NMI’s Guide to the Sale of Pre-Packaged Goods brochure for more information.
The NMI website has specific information about trade measurement laws and regulations for the following categories:
- point of sale (POS) systems
- bread and bakery products
- fruit and vegetables
- garden landscape materials
- liquid fuel including petrol, diesel and LPG
- meat and seafood
- precious metals and stones.
If you use measuring instruments
If you use a measuring instrument such as a scale to sell goods, you must make sure it is:
- an approved type, that is suitable for its intended purpose
- verified before use by a licensed technician or inspector
- used in the correct manner (e.g. level and indicating zero before use)
- kept clean and in good working order
- verified after each repair or adjustment.
NMI recommends that all measuring instruments used for trade are checked regularly by a technician licensed by NMI (servicing licensee).
You can get a list of servicing licensees by contacting NMI’s Licensing Team on 1300 686 664 (option 2) or email@example.com.
Approval of measuring equipment from NMI
If you use measurement equipment for trade, its design must have NMI approval. You can ask if measuring equipment has NMI approval before you buy the equipment. To learn more, read NMI’s What are the next steps after patterns approval? (PDF 97KB) factsheet.
Verification from NMI
If you use measurement equipment for trade measurement, it must be verified by an NMI servicing licensee. For more information, check out NMI’s Licensees page. To find a servicing licensee near you, contact NMI’s Licensing Team on 1300 686 664 (option 2) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the benefits of using approved and verified equipment?
If you use approved and verified equipment, some of the benefits for you include:
- satisfying your customers by accurately filling orders
- avoiding fines of up to $170,000 per offence
- saving money by not unintentionally giving away product.
Trade measurement inspectors
NMI employs trade measurement inspectors who can visit a place of business 'at any reasonable time of day' in response to a complaint or enquiry from a consumer, or as part of a trade measurement compliance inspection program. Read NMI's The Role of the Trade Measurement Inspector (PDF 806KB) brochure to learn more about your rights and responsibilities when dealing with inspectors.
Do you price your goods or services using measurement? If so, your measuring equipment needs to be approved and verified by the National Measurement Institute (NMI).
Examples include using:
- scales to determine the weight of meat to set meat prices
- measuring tapes to work out the length of fabric and its price
- petrol pumps to measure the volume of fuel and its price for vehicles.
Not all measurement equipment in business is used for trade. Examples of measurement equipment that is not used for trade include:
- scales that businesses use internally for waste or stock management
- clocks businesses use to schedule meetings
- breathalysers that let you check your blood-alcohol content.
How can I contact NMI directly for a trade measurement enquiry or to lodge a trade measurement related complaint?
You can call the NMI trade measurement hotline on 1300 686 664 or email email@example.com to have an enquiry answered or a trade measurement related complaint investigated.
What to do...
- Visit the National Measurement Institute website for information on trade measurement laws and regulations.
- Read NMI’s Guidance on measuring instruments in use for trade (PDF 76KB) factsheet to find out more about the approval and verification of measurement equipment.
- Download NMI’s Guide to the Sale of Pre-Packaged Goods (PDF 1.0MB) brochure for information on the legislative requirements for correct measurement, including requirements for the position, size and format of measurement labels.
- Read NMI’s What is Trade Measurement (PDF 751KB) and The Role of the Trade Measurement Inspector (PDF 806KB) brochures to learn more about trade measurement and the enforcement of trade measurement law.
- For all trade measurement enquiries, including finding servicing licensees to calibrate your measuring instruments or the location of public weighbridges, contact the NMI trade measurement hotline on 1300 686 664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Read Fair trading for information on fair trading laws and regulation that affect your business.