Colombia - Country Commercial Guide
Standards for Trade

Describes standards, identifies the national standards, accreditation bodies, and lists the national testing organization(s) and conformity assessment bodies.

Last published date: 2021-11-09

Overview

Decree 2153 of 1992 defined the Colombian standards regime’s legal framework. Decree 2153 modified the structure of the Superintendent of Industry and Commerce (SIC), and along with Decree 2269 of 1993, created the National Standardization, Certification, and Metrology System (SNNCM). The latter decree designated the Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification (ICONTEC) as the main standards development organization and SIC as the national accreditation organization. 

Colombia further revised its standards regime following its accession to the World Trade Organization (Law 170 of 1994). Colombia joined the Group of Three (G-3) Trade Agreement between Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela (Law 172 of 1994), and enacted Andean Community Decision 376 of 1995, which created the Andean Standardization, Accreditation, Assays, Certification, Technical Regulations, and Metrology System.

On February 3, 2010, per Decree 323 of 2010, the accreditation role was transferred from SIC to the Colombian National Accreditation Organization (ONAC), created by Decree 4738 of 2008, and therefore, eliminated the provisions of Decree 2269 of 1993 and Decree 2153 of 1992.

Standards

The Colombian Standards and Certification Institute (ICONTEC) is a private-sector organization created in 1963. The SIC has also accredited ICONTEC for product certification, quality assurance, and environmental systems certification.

ICONTEC’s principal aim is to promote the development of technical standards, quality assurance, and product certification, and is Colombia’s national standardization institute. They are members of the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electro-Technical Commission (IEC). ICONTEC is a founding member of the Pan-American Technical Standards Commission (COPANT) and a member of the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC), the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), and IQNet, an international association of national quality assurance certification entities.

ICONTEC is also recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the German Accreditation Association (TGA), the Chilean National Standardization Institute (INN), and the Peruvian standardization institute (INDECOPI). ICONTEC has offices in Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Peru.

ICONTEC’s technical standards development committees cover a wide range of issues and topics on metrology, occupational health, air, soil and water quality, solid waste, bar codes, conformity assessment, geographic information, environmental assessments, food and vegetable standards, and construction products, among others.  For a complete standards development committee list, please visit ICONTEC’s Technical Committees webpage.

NIST Notify U.S. Service

Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other Member countries. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect your access to international markets.

Testing, Inspection, and Certification

Conformity Assessment

On November 20, 2007, the Ministry of Foreign Trade enacted the creation of Colombia’s National Accreditation Organization (ONAC) as a public-private organization following the guidelines of the National Quality Policy and with the aim to allow international recognition of the country’s conformity assessment certificates, including laboratory testing and calibration certificates in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011 standards.  Per Decrees 4738 and 3257 of 2008, ONAC accredits and supervises the certification entities, as well as testing and calibration laboratories, a task previously assigned to the SIC, through the Delegated Superintendent for Consumer Protection (SDPC).

Product Certification and Accreditation

Manufacturers and importers of products regulated by technical standards or technical regulations must obtain a certificate of conformity from accredited certification entities. ONAC accepts certificates issued by accredited certification entities, such as members of the IAF multilateral agreement, the Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC), and has signed mutual recognition agreements under the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). Government must notify the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the development and implementation of technical regulations to allow all member countries and private companies to review and comment on the proposed regulations to avoid them becoming a technical barrier to trade.

ONAC accredits a wide variety of entities under several accreditation arrangements like testing and calibration laboratories, digital certification, electrical and natural gas installation inspection service entities, metrology and verification services, product certification (HVAC, electrical products and installations, lighting products and control devices, electric motors, transformers, solar panels, toys, industrial and medicinal gas cylinders, clinical laboratories, steel rebar, pneumatic tires, electric and gas-fired household appliances, CNG systems, management certification systems, motor vehicle diagnostic centers). U.S. manufacturers must confirm their compliance to Colombian technical regulations before promoting their products in the market. The complete listing is available in: https://onac.org.co/directorio-de-acreditados

The National Institute for Food and Medicine Vigilance (Invima) oversees the National Sanitary Surveillance System and is the responsible organization regarding the accreditation of sanitary, biological products, medicines, food, beverage, cosmetics, and medical devices and products related to human health requirements.

Publication of Technical Regulations

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism’s (MinCIT) Regulations Directorate is the WTO point of contact for TBT draft technical regulations, and upcoming Colombian notifications on TBT and Sanitary and Phytosanitary  (SPS) regulations. This group verifies compliance (and coordinates) with the WTO TBT Agreement, the SPS Agreement, and compliance with conformity assessment procedures and maintains an information system concerning national or foreign technical regulations, among other related matters.