United Arab Emirates - Commercial Guide
Standards for Trade

Describes the country's standards landscape, identifies the national standards and accreditation bodies, and lists the main national testing organization(s) and conformity assessment bodies

Last published date: 2020-09-12

Overview

The UAE established the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA):

  • As its sole national standardization body in 2001 under UAE Law No. 28/2001.
  • On July 5, 2020, leaders of the UAE announced a major government reorganization, and ESMA was absorbed into a newly created Ministry of Industry & Advanced Technology.  
  • Historically, ESMA’s tasks have included:
  • Develop, provide, and adopt national standards prepared by its technical committees at the request of the government, industry, and consumers.
  • Ensure consumers safety and environmental protection through the implementation of UAE standards.
  • Provide up-to-date information on standardization and relevant activities and stakeholders at the national, regional, and international levels.
  • Run the Emirates Conformity Assessment Scheme (ECAS) which determines whether imports meet national or international standards for products.
  • Run the Emirates National Accreditation Scheme (ENAS) which accredits conformity assessment bodies.
  • Monitor the implementation of approved UAE standards.
  • Grant the Emirates Quality Mark (EQM) to national products.
  • Issue certificates of conformity.

Historically, individual companies have provided important feedback to ESMA as it develops and implements new standards. In general, standards developed by ESMA should reference existing international and regional standards, the latter defined as GCC/Gulf Standards Organization. Drafts are circulated to relevant bodies for comment and all technical regulations are approved by Cabinet decision for legal implementation. 

ESMA is an active member in many international and regional authorities and organizations related to the fields of standardization, metrology, conformity and accreditation:

  • Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO).
  • Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex).
  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
  • International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF).
  • International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).
  • International Organization for Legal Metrology (OIML).
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
  • Standardization Organization for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GSO).
  • World Trade Organization (WTO).

A Director General provides daily management for ESMA, who manages the:

  • Organization.
  • Information center.
  • Technical office.

Accreditation and technical committees.

The national and emirate level governments, regulatory bodies, and professional associations also review standards requirements. To promote transparency and industry and stakeholder input, ESMA established technical committees in the fields of:

  • Food products.
  • Construction and building materials.
  • Electrical and electronic products.
  • Chemical and plastic products.
  • Mechanical products.
  • Petroleum products and lubricants.
  • Metrology.
  • Information technology.

Standards

Companies and industry organizations have engaged with ESMA on draft standards. ESMA has told U.S. government representatives that they would like to see even greater engagement by U.S. standards development organizations, and ESMA welcomed an ANSI-led trade mission of U.S. standards development organizations supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce in March 2019. U.S. standards development organizations have found it advantageous to build relationships with ESMA leadership and its technical committees to ensure their inputs are considered early in the standards drafting process.

Members of the WTO are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to notify to the WTO proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures that could affect trade. American businesses can monitor these submissions via “Notify U.S.” (www.nist.gov/notifyus) a free, web-based e-mail registration service that captures and makes available for review and comment key information on draft regulations and conformity assessment procedures. Users receive customized e-mail alerts when new notifications are added by selected country or countries and industry sector(s) of interest and can also request full texts of regulations. This service and its associated web site are managed and operated by the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point housed within the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The U.S. government works to help ensure adopted standards in the UAE do not act as technical barriers of trade to U.S. products. In 2019, the U.S. did not engage in any formal WTO TBT cases with the UAE. The U.S. government has submitted comments to the UAE on draft regulations via the Inquiry Point and raised occasional questions about draft regulations at WTO TBT Committee meetings. 

Industry concerns related to ESMA and standards in the UAE are reported in the U.S. Trade Representative’s annual “National Trade Estimate”.

Testing, Inspection and Certification

ESMA Organizational Structure

ESMA is headquartered in Abu Dhabi and maintains a branch office in Dubai. ESMA has historically had four major divisions/departments:

  • Standards
  • Accreditation
  • Conformity
  • Metrology

Conformity Assessment and Product Certification

ESMA’s conformity assessment department is responsible for implementing UAE regulations according to product certification schemes defined in ISO 17067. Certificates of Conformity are issued for products that comply with regulations and national or GSO standards. Whenever these standards are not available, ESMA uses international or foreign standards suitable to the UAE.

In 2004, UAE introduced a mandatory regulatory program, the Emirates Conformity Assessment Scheme (ECAS), under which ESMA monitors industry compliance with UAE standards in order for goods to be sold in the country, both imported and domestic. Initially, ECAS only applied to items such as textiles and building materials. In June 2018, the UAE expanded the scope of ECAS to include agricultural products, such as dairy and juice products.

ECAS procedures and guidelines explain:

  • The steps required for compliance.
  • How certificates of conformity can be obtained.
  • The requirements related to the self-declaration.
  • Registration processes.

ESMA can provide details on the scope of products regulated under the ECAS and can be contacted for clarifications concerning regulated products by email: customercare@esma.gov.ae. Further information on ECAS can be found at this link.

In October 2019, ESMA certified the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) laboratory as a national laboratory at the federal level to maintain standards of radiation measurements.

Accreditation

To assess the conformity of products to relevant standards, the UAE relies on several Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), or independent bodies that are accredited to perform conformity assessments by ESMA’s Accreditation Department. ESMA’s Accreditation Department accredits CABs through the Emirates National Accreditation System (ENAS). Once ESMA determines that CABs can perform specific tasks described in an accreditation scope document they are granted accreditation certifications to execute those tasks. Further information about ENAS is available on their website. ESMA accredits:

  • Testing and calibration labs.
  • Inspection bodies.
  • Product certification bodies.

Since February 2019, all medical laboratories operating in the UAE must adhere to mandatory regulations issued by ESMA. It is not yet clear if the global COVID-19 crisis may change this.

Laboratories 

ESMA supervises and manages the scheme in addition to monitoring the laboratories performance to support all the scheme's requirements. The approved laboratories are those:

  • Accredited by national recognized organizations.
  • Approved by the authority based on evaluating their capabilities.
  • Accredited by the national accreditation body.
  • Other laboratories nominated by the manufacturers.

Web Resources

Notify U.S.
Office of the United States Trade Representative
Emirates National Accreditation Department
Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology:  Archive Laws and Legislation
General Secretariat of The Executive Council
Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology:  Sell Standardization Specification
Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology
Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology: Issue Certificate of Conformity (ECAS)