International Trade Administration Standards Initiative
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a standard and a regulation?

A standard is a document, established by consensus, that provides rules, guidelines or charachteristics for activities or their results. A regulation is a set of rules that have been adopted by an authority having jurisdiction and are thereby enforceable by law.

What are international standards?

An international standard is one that has been developed with open, impartial and transparent procedures that afford an opportunity for consensus among all interested parties.

What is the OSIP Standards Team?

The International Trade Administration (ITA) Office of Standards and Investment Policy (OSIP) Standards Team coordinates standards activities through the International Trade Administration, with other governmental agencies, and with private sector stakeholders.

What is Notify U.S.?

"Notify U.S." is a free, web-based information service designed to disseminate World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO TBT) notifications. It features e-mail notifications of changes to domestic and foreign technical regulations for industrial products (including product packaging, marking and labeling) and offers complete texts of proposed regulations for review and comment.

Click Here to learn more about to Notify U.S.

What assistance and resources are available to help export my company's products? provides online trade resources and one-on-one assistance for your international business – whether you’re just starting or expanding your global sales.

The Trade Information Center (TIC) is a comprehensive resource for information on all U.S. Federal Government export assistance programs. The Center is operated by the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the 20 federal agencies comprising the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC). These agencies are responsible for managing the U.S. Government's export promotion programs and activities.

What should I do if I encounter a trade barrier?

The Trade Compliance Center (TCC) helps American exporters overcome foreign trade barriers and works to ensure that foreign countries comply with their commitments to the United States.

What is the National Institute of Standards and Technology?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers a collection of reports on the U.S. and foreign standards and conformity assessment systems. These reports can be downloaded at no cost.

How can I find out if a voluntary standard has been referenced by a regulatory authority?

Standards.Gov offers background materials, useful links, and search tools for locating information about the use of standards in government. The primary focus is on Federal agency use of standards for regulatory and procurement purposes.