Describes standards, identifies the national standards, accreditation bodies, and lists the national testing organization(s) and conformity assessment bodies.
India historically made efforts to align its national standards with international norms, and most Indian standards are harmonized with International Standards Organization (ISO) standards. Nevertheless, there is current pressure with India to devise Indian-specific standards, which is creating barriers to trade and posing challenges to U.S. exporters in a range of industry sectors. India frequently fails to notify the WTO of new standards and often does not allow time for discussion with its trading partners prior to implementation. In 2021, the Indian government launched the “One Nation, One Standard” scheme with the aim of synergizing standards adopted by various Standard Development Organizations in India.
Indian Standards Organizations
The BIS is the national standards body of India. BIS is responsible for the development and formulation of standards and promotes activities related to standardization, marking, and quality certification for imported and exported goods. BIS is the only organization in India authorized to operate quality certification plans under an Act of Parliament. It also sets policy for Indian participation in the ISO and the International Electro Technical Commission. BIS is also involved with product certification, quality system certifications and testing, and consumer affairs. BIS is comprised of representatives of industry, consumer organizations, scientific and research bodies, professional organizations, technical institutions, Indian government ministries, and members of parliament.
Please note that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India serves as the statutory body for implementing and regulating food standards. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India issues food import clearance certificates for all food articles.
In accordance with its obligations under the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement, the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry designated BIS as the National WTO-TBT Enquiry Point. According to the agreement, BIS, in tandem with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, issues notifications on proposed technical regulations and certification systems in India to the WTO. BIS’s Technical Information Services Center responds to domestic and foreign requests for information about Indian standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment rules. U.S. companies that wish to make comments on notifications can obtain copies of the text from the WTO-TBT Enquiry Point at BIS’ Technical Information Services Center. BIS will communicate stakeholder comments to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Testing, Inspection, and Certification
A list of testing organizations providing conformity testing against relevant Indian standards is available from the BIS website. In association with Indian government agencies and NGOs, BIS periodically inspects products under mandatory certification. A provision exists for sub-contracting certification surveillance activities to relevant competent agencies in specific areas. Certain types of steel, rubber, and electronic products presently fall under such surveillance agreements.
BIS’s product standards are essentially voluntary in nature, but after the removal of quantitative restrictions on imports by India in 2000, the Indian government promulgated regulations dictating that imports of certain products are subject to mandatory compliance with specified Indian quality standards. This was done to provide protection to domestic producers in certain industry sectors. For compliance, all foreign suppliers and manufacturers of specified products are required to register with and obtain certification from BIS before their goods can be exported to India.
According to BIS guidelines, products under compulsory certification fall into three schemes: the ISI Mark Scheme, comprised of 373 items; the Grant of Certificate of Conformity Scheme, comprised of two items; and the Registration Scheme, comprised of 79 items. More information on schemes and guidance on quality control orders is available through the BIS website under the Products Under Compulsory Certification section.
These products generally must be tested and certified by BIS in India. BIS has a system for foreign companies to receive automatic certification for products not manufactured in India. The system is based on self-certification, under which a foreign manufacturer is permitted to apply the standards mark on the product after ascertaining its conformity to the respective Indian standard. At the foreign manufacturer’s expense, BIS inspectors travel to the manufacturer’s country to inspect their production facility to pre-certify the company and its production system, and then authorize subsequent monitoring and compliance by an independent inspector to ensure that the company maintains the specified standards. These inspections are currently heavily delayed due to the complexities of travel brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact Senior Commercial Specialist Naveen Rai if you are facing challenges exporting products to India due to the lack of BIS certification. Information on the application procedure for the BIS Product Certification Plan for foreign companies is available through the BIS website.
Suppliers and manufacturers of products under the Foreign Manufacturers Certification Scheme are required to maintain a presence in India. This requirement does not apply if the foreign manufacturer nominates an authorized India representative, who agrees to be responsible for compliance with the provisions of BIS on behalf of the manufacturer per an agreement signed between the manufacturer and BIS. Under separate arrangements, some products are placed under special certification plans for batch inspections carried out by BIS inspecting officers. As an example, most gas cylinders, deep well hand pumps, and valves are certified through such plans.
The National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) provides accreditation for testing and calibration laboratories for the Indian government, industry associations, and the private sector. To date, NABL has accredited more than 6,920 testing and calibration laboratories. NABL is a member of international organizations such as the International Laboratory Accreditation Co-operation and the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Co-operation (APLAC). NABL is a signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Co-operation as well as APLAC Mutual Recognition Arrangements, which are based on mutual evaluation and acceptance of other Mutual Recognition Arrangements Partner laboratory accreditation systems.
Indian manufacturing companies are investing in standards accreditation. The number of plants in India with ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 accreditation increased from a negligible figure in the early nineties to many thousands today.
Publication of Technical Regulations
All BIS rules, regulations, and Indian standards information is available on the BIS website. In 2007, the Indian government implemented the “Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules,” known as the Customs Rules on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), to meet its commitment under the Trade-Related Aspects of the IPR Agreement. The purpose of these rules is to prevent counterfeited and infringed goods from being imported into India. The Customs Rules on IPR provide rights holders the opportunity to record their IPR (trademarks, designs, copyrights, patents, and geographical indications) online through the Indian Customs IPR Recordation Portal. The portal helps Indian customs authorities with enforcement actions related to trade in counterfeit or infringed goods. The rules were amended in 2018 to remove the ability of rights holders to record their patent-related rights and notify customs authorities of the goods allegedly infringing their patent rights.
Use ePing to Review Proposed Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment Procedures
The ePing SPS&TBT platform (https://epingalert.org/), or “ePing”, provides access to notifications made by WTO Members under the Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), distributed by the WTO from January 16, 1995 to present. ePing is available to all stakeholders free of charge and does not require registration unless the user wishes to receive customized e-mail alerts. Use it to browse notifications on past as well as new draft and updated product regulations, food safety and animal and plant health standards and regulations, find information on trade concerns discussed in the WTO SPS and TBT Committees, locate information on SPS/TBT Enquiry Points and notification authorities, and to follow and review current and past notifications concerning regulatory actions on products, packaging, labeling, food safety and animal and plant health measures in markets of interest.
Notify U.S., operated and maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) since 2003 to distribute and provide access to notifications (and associated draft texts) made under the WTO TBT Agreement for US stakeholders, has reached its end of life. Per obligation under the TBT Agreement, each WTO Member operates a national TBT (and an SPS) Enquiry Point. National TBT Enquiry Points are authorized to accept comments and official communications from other national TBT Enquiry Points, which are NOT part of the WTO or the WTO Secretariat. All comment submissions from U.S. stakeholders, including businesses, trade associations, U.S domiciled standards development organizations and conformity assessment bodies, consumers, or U.S. government agencies on notifications to the WTO TBT Committee should be sent directly to the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point. Refer to the comment guidance at https://tsapps.nist.gov/notifyus/data/guidance/guidance.cfm for further information.