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Harmonised Standards

EN Standards [Working title]


EN standards, or harmonised standards, are an integral part of CE marking. You can use them to prove compliance with the essential requirements of the European directives.


In this article, Ferry Vermeulen of INSTRKTIV will explain what EN standards are, where to find them and how to apply them.

1. What is an EN standard?

EN standards are standards that have been developed by a standardisation institute, mandated by the European Commission and are in order to comply with one or more mandatory essential requirements from a specific European directive.


Products that meet the requirements of harmonised standards benefit from a presumption of conformity with the corresponding essential requirements.


Generally speaking, harmonised standards contain the following content:


  • Scope - Describes the field of application of the standard.
  • Normative reference - Lists the standards that have been used and which are essential for the correct application of the standard.
  • Terms and definitions - Describes  used terms and definitions.
  • Requirements - Gives detailed requirements on how to meet the more general requirements from the related directive.
  • Warnings, markings and instructions - Describes how to properly instruct users about product risks and inform them about important product characteristics?
  • Test methods - Describes how to test if a product meets the requirements and how to document this for the technical file.

2. Where can I find EN standards online?

Whereas directives are mandatory and can be freely accessed via the website of the European Commission, standards are voluntary and need to be purchased. You can find them for example via the ISO, IEC, DIN or BS website.

3. Is compliance with all EN standards mandatory?


It is not always necessary to meet with all the requirements from an EU directive and therefore you also may not always need to meet all EN standards.. When conducting the CE marking process, you will first need to identify the directives and standards that apply to your product. Then, you can identify the applicable requirements of both the directives and standards.


And again, standards are not mandatory but complying with them creates a presumption of conformity with the corresponding essential requirements of the directives.


4. How do I know if a certain product (including my own design) is compliant with a certain EN standard?

If you want to know if your product complies with (a requirement from) a standard, you should have your product tested. In many cases and for many products you are allowed to conduct the testing yourself. In some cases the testing needs to be done by a Notified Body. Consult the relevant directives to determine how to conduct the testing. Even though you might be allowed to do the testing yourself, not everyone has the technical ability for doing the tests. In that case you can ask a testing institute to support you.


Harmonised standards describe how a test must be conducted.

6. How do I know which EN standards apply to a certain product?

There are an extensive amount of standards out there and they are constantly withdrawn, newly developed or updated. One single clear list of all available standards simply does not exist. To find standards that could be used for the development or testing of your product, try the following resources:


To find out if standards exist, try the following:


-          The website of the European Commission. Select a product group and on the next page see if some relevant standards are listed.

-          Search on the website of normalisation institutes, such as DIN, BS, ISO, IEC, NEN and SIS, by using key words or numbers.

-          Google.

-          Search the Official Publication Journal of the European Community.


When you have found a standard that might apply to your product, make sure you check the Scope (chapter 1) to verify if it indeed applies to your product.

7. Is it common that more than one EN standard may apply to a certain product?

An EN standard typically covers one or more essential requirements of a directive and not all. In order to comply with all essential requirements, always make sure that you have found all relevant standards.

8. What’s the difference between EN and ISO standards?


An ISO standard is a standard developed by the standardisation institute ISO. An EN standard is named as such, when a standard has been harmonised by the European Commission.


A standard can be developed by ISO, for example the ISO 12000-1. When the standard has been submitted and approved by the Member States, the standard will be published by the European Commission. From then on the standard is harmonised, meaning that the Member States need to adopt this standards and withdraw any conflicting standards. The standard then is named EN-ISO XXXXX. When a member state translates the standard, it is written for example as DIN EN ISO XXXXX or BS EN ISO XXXXX.

9. What’s the difference between EN standards and EU directives (i.e., the Low Voltage Directive)?

An EN standard is a way to meet the requirements of the EU directives. Directives are mandatory, standards are voluntary. A standard is a way to use the latest state of the art technology to meet the essential (and more general) requirements of the directives technically.


Consider EN standards as a database of solutions to comply with the requirements.


About Instrktiv.com

INSTRKTIV supports companies in the CE marking process and helps their clients to create compliant user instructions. As the director, Ferry speaks regularly at conferences and maintains a blog about product safety. Read his latest article about creating compliant user manuals.