british standards institution

British Standards

British Standards are produced by BSI British Standards, a division of BSI Group that is incorporated under a Royal Charter and is formally designated as the National Standards Body (NSB) for the UK.

The standards

The standards produced are titled British Standard XXXX[-P]:YYYY where XXXX is the number of the standard, P is the number of the part of the standard (where the standard is split into multiple parts) and YYYY is the year in which the standard came into effect. British Standards currently has over 27,000 active standards. Products are commonly specified as meeting a particular British Standard, and in general this can be done without any certification or independent testing. The standard simply provides a shorthand way of claiming that certain specifications are met, while encouraging manufacturers to adhere to a common method for such a specification.

The Kitemark can be used to indicate certification by BSI, but only where a Kitemark scheme has been set up around a particular standard. It is mainly applicable to safety and quality management standards. There is a common misunderstanding that Kitemarks are necessary to prove compliance with any BS standard, but in general it is neither desirable nor possible that every standard be 'policed' in this way.


BSI Group began in 1901 as the Engineering Standards Committee, led by James Mansergh, to standardise the number and type of steel sections, in order to make British manufacturers more efficient and competitive.

Over time the standards developed to cover many aspects of tangible engineering, and then engineering methodologies including quality systems, safety and security.

Examples of British Standards

  • BS 0 A standard for standards specifies Development, Structure and Drafting of British Standards themselves.
  • BS 381 for colours used in identification, coding and other special purposes
  • BS 476 for fire resistance of building materials / elements
  • BS 546 for mains power plugs and sockets (older standard)
  • BS 1088 for marine plywood
  • BS 1192 for Construction Drawing Practice. Part 5 (BS1192-5:1998) concerns Guide for structuring and exchange of CAD data.
  • BS 1363 for mains power plugs and sockets
  • BS 1852 resistor and capacitor value coding
  • BS 3621 for thief resistant lock assembly. Key egress.
  • BS 4343 for industrial electrical power connectors
  • BS 4800 for paint colours used in building construction
  • BS 4900 for vitreous enamel colours used in building construction
  • BS 4901 for plastic colours used in building construction
  • BS 4902 for sheet / tile floor covering colours used in building construction
  • BS 5252 for colour-coordination in building construction
  • BS 5499 for graphical symbols and signs in building construction; including shape, colour and layout
  • BS 5750 for quality management, the source for ISO 9000
  • BS 5930 for site investigations
  • BS 5950 for structural steel
  • BS 6312 for telephone plugs and sockets
  • BS 6879 for British geocodes, a superset of GB
  • BS 7671 Requirements for Electrical Installations, The IEE Wiring Regulations, produced by the IET.
  • BS 7799 for information security, the source for ISO/IEC 27001, 27002 (former 17799), and 27005
  • BS 7925-1 Vocabulary of terms in software testing
  • BS 7925-2 Software component testing
  • BS 8110 for structural concrete
  • BS 8494 for detecting and measuring carbon dioxide in ambient air or extraction systems
  • BS 15000 for IT Service Management, (ITIL), now ISO/IEC 20000

Publicly Available Specifications

BSI also publishes a series of Publicly Available Specification (PAS) documents.

Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) are a flexible and rapid standards development model that is open to all organizations. A PAS is a sponsored piece of work allowing organizations flexibility in the rapid creation of a standard while also allowing for a greater degree of control over the document's development. A typical development timeframe for a PAS is around 6-9 months. Once published by BSI a PAS has all the functionality of a British Standard for the purposes of creating schemes such as management systems and product benchmarks as well as codes of practice. A PAS is a living document and after two years the document will be reviewed and a decision made with the client as to whether or not this should be taken forward to become a formal British standard.



Copies of British Standards are sold by BSI Business Information They can also be ordered via the publishing units of many other national standards bodies (ANSI, DIN, etc.) and from several specialized suppliers of technical specifications.

Many British Standards (BS) – as well as some of the European and International Standards that were adopted as British Standards (BS EN, BS ISO) – are also available in public and university libraries in the United Kingdom, either on paper or online via a British Standards Online subscription. However, the BSI makes standards available to these libraries only under licence restrictions which forbid loan, inter-library loan, open-shelf access, and copying of more than 10% of a document by library users The BSI library in Chiswick charges visiting members of the public a fee of £10 per hour although this is free to "members of the BSI, students & accredited journalists" ......................

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