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    - Legal Metrology

Government is responsible for ensuring the orderly conduct of commerce, the protection of all participants in the market for goods and services and protection of consumers by ensuring equity and correctness in all trade based on measurements of quantity as a basis for the transaction, and that products are correctly labelled.

Legal Metrology is responsible for the implementation of the requirements of the Trade Metrology Act, 1973 and Regulations.
NRCS has regional Legal Metrology offices in Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and Bloemfontein. Staff at all offices is qualified to undertake inspections under the Trade Metrology Act.

Protecting the Consumer
All activities of Legal Metrology are intended to protect the consumer we constantly:
  • Conducts surveillance inspections at all levels (manufacturer, importer, distributor and retailer) in the market to ensure that consumers receive fair measure and legal requirements are met.
  • Continually verifies the accuracy of measuring instruments and measures;
  • Calibrates measures and measuring instruments on site and in the laboratory;
  • Conducts technical training courses for its own staff and businesses involved in installation, maintenance, verification and calibration of measuring instruments;
  • Takes immediate action to stop the sale of goods when legal requirements are not met.

In order to provide further protection to the consumer Legal Metrology also operates a voluntary pre-pack certification scheme – the “e” Mark Scheme. In order to participate in the scheme packers must prove that they consistently meet requirements regarding quantity packed and labelling, and that they have adequate management systems in place to ensure that they continue to comply.

Legal Metrology continually strives to ensure that its standards for inspection and competence of employees are world class, through accreditation to SANS17020 - General criteria for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection. Accreditation provides formal recognition of the competence of the inspection function.

Supporting Industry


The NRCS - Legal Metrology department provides the following services to industry:
  • Type approval of measuring instruments used in trade;
  • Verification and re-verification of instruments used in trade;
  • Calibration of verification and other standards of mass and volume;
  • Control of the accreditation of verification laboratories;
  • Inspection of pre-packaged goods and measuring instruments used in trade;
  • Assistance in implementing SANS 1840: Measuring container bottles and SANS 1841: Control of Quantity of contents in pre-packed packages within the legal prescriptions of the Trade Metrology Act and Regulations; and
  • Provides advice on the requirements of the Trade Metrology Act, 1973 (Act No. 77 of 1973), including its amendments and attendant regulations.
Imports and Exports

Pre-packed commodities and measuring instruments imported into and exported from South Africa are not exempted from the Trade Metrology Act and are subject to inspections and evaluation.

Services to Government

NRCS supports Government in ensuring the orderly conduct of commerce, the protection of all participants in the market of goods and services and protection of consumers by ensuring equity and correctness in all trade and all other legal metrology dealings used as a basis for the transaction.

Government should also show due diligence to citizens of foreign countries and their governments that South African trade measurements meet or exceed international norms. There is close co-operation between Legal Metrology and government departments.

Organisation Internationale Metrology Legal (OIML) is the international body representing Legal Metrology. NRCS - Legal Metrology is the nominated representative of South Africa to OIML and represent South Africa on the OIML technical committees where the International Recommendations (R-Documents) are developed.

Legal Metrology is also involved/represented in regional metrology organisations i.e. AFRIMETS – Inter Africa Metrology System, SADCMEL – Southern Africa Legal Metrology.

Consumer and Industry Watch Dog

Consumers are urged to lodge complaints regarding on any of the above whereby the Inspectors will do a reactive inspection and solve the complaints.

The most common complaints involve:
  • short mass/volume;
  • Use of non-approved or un-certified measuring instruments.
Short mass/volume
Most products are packaged before sale, and must meet requirements for allowable tolerances in measurement.
Un-certified measuring instruments complaint:
Measuring instruments used in trade must be certified at regular intervals or after repairs by a SANAS accredited laboratory. The operator is issued with a certificate and a certification mark is applied to the instrument.
Un-approved measuring instrument
By law all measuring instruments used in trade have to be type approved. When an instrument is type approved it is given a pattern approval number, which has to appear on every replica in the format SA..XXXX (a number) that corresponds with the approved pattern.
If you have a concern with one of the above, or any other matter involving trade measurements, please contact the nearest regional office in your area.

Products and or instruments may sometimes not comply with the prescriptions as required by the Trade Metrology Act. It may therefore be necessary to apply for a concession. Only the Director of Trade Metrology is authorised to issue a concession.

Concessions will be dealt with on merit. A concession if granted will normally be restricted to a time period. The applicant will be notified whether the application was successful.

Applicants must apply in writing (fax, e-mail, letter) giving full details of the product(s) or instrument(s) for which a concession is sought, to:

Director of Trade Metrology
SH Carstens-
Telephone: +27 12 428 6886
Fax: +27 12 428 6552
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