As a member of CEN (European Committee for Standardization), CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization), and ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute), Switzerland adopts any new European standards in reconciliation with any conflicting national standards. Currently, approximately 26,000 standards make up the Swiss set of standards. Of these, only around 1,000 are purely Swiss standards; the other 25,000 are European or international standards which have been adopted by Switzerland.
All standards organizations in Switzerland fall under the umbrella of the Swiss Association for Standardization (Schweizerische Normen-Vereinigung or SNV). This private-sector organization provides local manufacturers with guidance on worldwide standards, serves as the link to relevant European (CEN) and international organizations (ISO), and is responsible for representing the Swiss position at conferences and meetings.
Swiss standardization through the SNV is a decentralized system which delegates responsibilities within autonomous standards sectors. Swiss experts from business, public administration, research, and society contribute to drafting the content of standards. When two parties mutually agree to abide by a given standard, or if the legislature mandates its compliance, a standard becomes binding. Otherwise, standards may be voluntarily adopted, and there is no legal obligation to comply with them.
Standards are not developed by the legislator, a government authority, or a national regulator, but by the interested parties themselves. All interested parties may become involved with the work of the standard committees and contribute their expertise. Every standard is submitted to the professional community for comment before it is finally adopted. Draft standards are published outside the competent standards committee for broader comment and are also available to specialists who are not members of recognized standardization organizations. The technical content of a standard is reviewed at least once every five years, to ensure that it is up to date. The monitoring of all Swiss standards is carried out by the SNV.
Standards in Switzerland are designated by a number with an alphanumerical prefix which indicates the standard origin and level of recognition. They are as follows:
SN – denotes a national standard primarily of national interest
EN – denotes a European standard
SN EN – denotes the unchanged national adoption of a European standard
SN ISO – denotes the unchanged national adoption of an international standard
SN EN ISO – denotes the unchanged a national adoption of a Europe-wide international standard
Testing, Inspection and Certification
Conformity assessment is controlled by a multitude of laboratories and companies that must be accredited by the Swiss Accreditation Service (SAS), as Swiss government agency. The accreditation procedure is complex, and includes physical inspection of the laboratories and equipment, staffing, and a determination of the organization’s level of independence and possible conflicts of interest.
Product certification is covered by laboratories and companies licensed or accredited by SAS. All relevant laboratories and companies are listed by sector on the SAS website.
Publication of Technical Regulations
Experts from companies and organizations can participate in standardization in various ways. The type and degree of participation depends on the interests and available resources of the participants – an expert in a national standards committee could vote on draft standards. An expert in the CEN or ISO working groups could actively participate in the development of the standards. Someone with experience managing a European or international technical committee could advise during the process.
Major organizations/agencies with programs to propose and/or implement standards:
SNV – Swiss Association for Standardization
Sulzeralle 70, P.O. Box, 8404 Winterthur, Switzerland
Phone +41 52 224 5454; https://www.snv.ch/en/
Association serving as the national umbrella for all Swiss organizations interested in standards. Provides guidance on new standards.
Electrosuisse – Association for Electrical, Energy and Information Technology
Luppmenstrasse 1, 8320 Fehraltdorf, Switzerland
Phone +41 58 595 1111; https://www.electrosuisse.ch/de/
Sectors covered: electrical safety standards, electromagnetic emissions
SIA – Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects
Selnaustrasse 16, P.O. Box, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland
Phone +41 44 283 1515; https://www.sia.ch/en/the-sia/
Sectors covered: building standards (above and underground construction, cultural aspects, environmental criteria, insulation, air-conditioning/heating/safety)
VSS – Swiss Association of Road and Traffic Professionals
Sihlquai 255, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland
Phone +41 44 269 4020; https://www.sia.ch/en/the-sia/
Sectors covered: traffic safety, planning of public and private sector transportation networks, energy efficiency, signaling, safety in tunnels, financing
SVGW – Swiss Gas and Water Association
Grütlistrasse 44, P.O. Box,-8002 Zurich, Switzerland
Phone +41 44 288 3333; https://www.svgw.ch/
Sectors covered: quality standards of processes and equipment for drinking water and natural gas
VSA – Association of Swiss Waste Water and Water Pollution Control Specialists
Europastrasse 3, P.O. Box, 8152 Glattbrugg, Switzerland
Phone +41 43 343 7070; https://vsa.ch/
Sectors covered: sewage treatment and water pollution control
BAFU –Swiss Federal Office for the Environment
Papiermühlestrasse 172, CH-3003 Bern-Ittigen, Switzerland
Phone: +41 58 462 9311; https://www.bafu.admin.ch/bafu/de/home.html
ASUT – Swiss Telecommunication Association
Hirschengraben 8, 3011 Bern, Switzerland
Phone +41 31 560 6666; https://asut.ch/asut/de/page/index.xhtml
Sectors covered: Communications equipment
BAKOM – Swiss Federal Office of Communications
Zukunftstrasse 44, P.O. Box 256, 2501 Biel, Switzerland
Phone +41 58 460 5511; https://www.bakom.admin.ch/bakom/de/home.html
Sector covered: telecommunications incl. radio and TV
Swissmem – Swiss association of mechanical and electrical engineering industries
Pfingstweidstrasse 102, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland
Phone +41 44 384 4111; https://www.swissmem.ch/en/index.html
Sectors covered: industrial machinery, e.g. machine tools, textile machinery, packaging machines, power generating and distribution equipment
Interpharma – Association of Switzerland’s research-based pharmaceutical industry
Petersgraben 35, P.O. Box,4009 Basel, Switzerland
Phone +41 61 264 3400; https://www.interpharma.ch/
Sectors covered: pharmaceuticals
Swissmedic – Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products
Hallerstrasse 7, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
Phone +41 58 462 0211; https://www.swissmedic.ch/swissmedic/de/home.html
Sectors covered: Swiss government agency comparable to the U.S. FDA
SUVA – Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund
Fluhmattstrasse 1, 6002 Lucerne, Switzerland
Phone +41 41 419 5111; www.suva.ch
Sectors covered: occupational safety agency comparable to U.S. OSHA
BAG – Swiss Federal Office of Public Health
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157, 3097 Liebefeld, Switzerland
Phone: +41 58 462 2111; www.bag.admin.ch
Sectors covered: public health
Use ePping 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