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). NMI is also responsible for maintaining and regulating Australia’s measurement system.

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.

What are the penalties?

NMI has a range of enforcement options for offences under trade measurement legislation.

These options include:

  • a verbal warning
  • a notice of non-compliance at the end of an inspection—this notice may include remedial actions that have to be carried out by the packer, importer, possessor or seller
  • a written warning
  • an infringement notice with associated fine
  • an enforceable undertaking
  • an injunction
  • prosecution

What your business needs to do

Manufacturers, packers, importers and retailers must ensure all batches of pre-packaged articles meet the legislative requirements for correct measurement. This includes requirements for the position, size and format of measurement labels. It also includes requirements for the type and units of measurement to be used on labels for specific products.
This is usually weight or volume but can also be number or linear or area measurement.

Read NMI’s Guide to the Sale of Pre-Packaged Goods brochure for more information.

Find out more specific information relating to the type of goods you sell:

If you use measuring instruments

If you use a measuring instrument—such as a scale—to determine the price when buying or selling goods and services, you must make sure the instrument 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.

We recommend you have your measuring instruments used for trade checked regularly by a technician licensed by NMI (servicing licensee).

For a list of servicing licensees, email tmlicensees@measurement.gov.au.

Approval of measuring equipment from NMI

If you use a measuring instrument for trade, its design must have NMI approval. You can ask if measuring instruments have NMI approval before you buy them.

Find out more about pattern approval.

Verifying measuring instruments

If you use a measuring instrument for trade, you must make sure it has been verified by a servicing licensee before using it. To find a servicing licensee near you, email tmlicensees@measurement.gov.au.

Regulating trade measurement

NMI employs trade measurement inspectors who can visit a place of business at any reasonable time of day. This may be in response to a complaint or enquiry from a consumer, or as part of a trade measurement compliance inspection program.

Find out more about our compliance activities from our:

As the national trade measurement regulator we aim at all times to provide high quality service. The Legal Metrology Service Charter is our public commitment to customers and stakeholders on what you can expect from us in service standards and delivery.

Trade measurement inspectors

NMI employs trade measurement inspectors throughout Australia to:

  • inform, monitor and consult with businesses about their trade measurement obligations
  • ensure all measuring instruments used for trade are verified and used correctly
  • check pre-packaged articles for correct packer identification, measurement markings and accurate measure
  • monitor the activities of servicing licensees and public weighbridge licensees
  • check public weighbridges for their conditions and accuracy
  • investigate complaints 
  • take appropriate enforcement action where there have been breaches of the laws

If an inspector visits your business, it may be a response to consumer feedback or part of our compliance program.

Inspectors can visit a place of business at any reasonable time of day and do not have to give notice of entry. We base the frequency of our visits on our risk assessment of your operations.

How can I contact NMI to lodge a trade measurement related complaint or enquiry?

You can call the NMI trade measurement hotline on 1300 686 664 or email infotm@measurement.gov.au to have an enquiry answered or a trade measurement related complaint investigated.

What to do...

  • Download NMI’s Guide to the Sale of Pre-Packaged Goods brochure for information on the legislative requirements for correct measurement, including requirements for the position, size and format of measurement labels.
  • 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 infotm@measurement.gov.au.
  • Read Fair trading for information on fair trading laws and regulation that affect your business.

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