Legal for Trade Scales Oct. 27, 2015

What is a Legal for Trade Scale? What does NTEP mean?

The world runs on weights and measures. Practically everything that one purchases undergoes the process of weighing at least once before going to market. From animals to furniture - if it is to be transported, it is to be weighed.


The National Conference on Weights and Measures - www.NCWM.net - is responsible for recommending policies and procedures for all scales, balances and weighing equipment used in the U.S. to fulfill this task, the NCWM has partnered with the National Institute on Standards and Technology (www.nist.gov).

The goal of this partnership is to create a program that oversees the recommendations, tolerances and testing procedures to guarantee that a scale or balance is accurate. This program is called the National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP).

The NCWM publishes a handbook with a list of the requirements necessary to receive an NTEP Certificate of Conformance – a legal document that certifies a scale to meet NCWM recommendations.

Each state is free to adopt whatever standards they want within their jurisdiction. And, in fact, all 50 states have adopted the recommendations made by the NCWM. Forty-six states require NTEP certification for any scale/balance that can be considered “Legal for Trade” in their jurisdiction. (Currently, Texas, Rhode Island, Vermont and North Dakota do not require an NTEP Certificate to place a scale/balance in service as legal for trade.)

The term “Legal for Trade” is a STATE term. The NCWM does not have the authority to designate a scale/balance as “Legal for Trade. ”All the NCWM can do is determine the testing procedures needed to meet its own standards and ensure that a device is capable of meeting them. A scale/balance that is “Legal for Trade,” or that has been “Put in Service,” does not necessarily have an NTEP Certificate of Conformance. Likewise, just because a scale/balance has an NTEP Certificate of Conformance does not mean that it is “Legal for Trade”.

To further confuse matters, a scale/balance that is “Legal for Trade” in one state may not be “Legal for Trade” in another. An NTEP Certificate of Conformance simply means that the scale/balance conforms to the NATIONAL NCWM recommendations. It still has to be inspected and certified by the State.

If your scale/balance must be Legal for Trade, you need to consult your local regulatory agency (usually the State Dept. of Agriculture) in order to understand your state’s implementation of NTEP. You can find a directory of State Agencies at http://www.ncwm.net/content/state-directors. It all depends on your jurisdiction.

The assessments asserted in this document are not intended as legal advice. If you require a scale/balance that is Legal for Trade, you should always consult your local regulatory agency before purchasing the scale/balance, whether it is NTEP approved or not.

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