What are trade measurement laws?

Trade measurement laws make sure Australian consumers get what they pay for. They regulate transactions where you determine the price by measurement, such as for petrol or meat sales.

Australia’s trade measurement laws cover:

  • the definition of the legal units of measurement
  • the use of measuring instruments for trade
  • testing and verification of measuring instruments
  • transactions by measurement
  • pre-packed articles and their labels
  • licenses that businesses require to verify measuring instruments
  • licences required for public weighbridges.

The National Measurement Institute (NMI) administers Australia’s trade measurement laws:

NMI also maintains measurement standards and provides the legal and technical framework for the standards.

Who needs to comply with trade measurement laws

All businesses must comply with trade measurement laws if they:

  • sell goods by measurement (such as weighing fruit and veggies for sale)
  • manufacture, pack, import or sell pre-packaged goods
  • supply or maintain measuring instruments.

The laws apply to both wholesale and retail businesses. If your business is caught short-measuring its customers, you could be fined:

  • up to $210,000 per offence as a company 
  • up to $42,000 per offence as an individual.

Understand your product requirements

Manufacturers, packers, importers and retailers have a duty to carry out sufficient checks to ensure that all batches of pre-packaged articles meet requirements for correct measurement. This includes the position, size and format of measurement labels.

For more information on your obligations, read the NMI’s Guide to the sale of pre-packaged goods.

Measuring instrument approval and verification

Do you price your goods or services using measurement? If you do, you’ll need to make sure your equipment is approved and verified. For example, if you use:

  • scales to determine the weight of meat to set meat prices
  • measuring tapes to work out the length of fabric and its price
  • petrol pumps to measure the volume of fuel and its price for vehicles.

If you use a measuring instrument, such as a scale to sell goods, you must make sure it is:

  • an approved type, that is suitable for its intended purpose
  • verified before use by a licensed technician
  • used in the correct manner (e.g. level and indicating zero before use)
  • kept clean and in good working order
  • verified after each repair or adjustment.

If you use approved and verified equipment, you will:

  • satisfy your customers by accurately filling orders
  • avoid fines
  • save money by not unintentionally giving away product.

Equipment does not need approval from NMI if it is not used for trade.

Approval of measuring equipment

If you make, sell or intend to purchase measurement equipment for trade, its design must have NMI approval. You can ask if measuring equipment has NMI approval before you buy the equipment. 

Learn more about approval of measuring equipment.

Verifying measuring equipment

If you use measurement equipment for trade measurement, make sure it’s verified by a servicing licensee. To find a servicing licensee near you, email tmlicensees@measurement.gov.au.

NMI recommends that all measuring instruments used for trade are checked regularly by a licensed technician.

Find more information about verifying measuring equipment.

Trade measurement inspectors

NMI employs trade measurement inspectors. Inspectors may visit your business at any reasonable time of day in response to a complaint or enquiry from a consumer, or as part of a trade measurement compliance inspection program.

Learn about your rights and responsibilities when dealing with inspectors.

Contact the National Measurement Institute

If you have questions or a complaint about trade measurement, you can:

Read next

Learn more about labelling to make sure you label your products correctly.