NTEP-Approved versus Legal-for-Trade
One of the most common questions we're asked is whether or not it is necessary to have a NTEP-approved, or legal-for-trade, scale. But beyond the requirement to have a legal-for-trade scale, there are often questions of whether or not a NTEP-approved scale is also a legal-for-trade scale. The answer is no but it is a bit more complex than that. So what is the difference between NTEP-approved and legal-for-trade scales?
What is NTEP-Approved?
Scale manufacturers are required to comply with NTEP (National Type Evaluation Program) guidelines before they can classify a scale NTEP-approved. Requirements are based on NIST Handbook 44 guidelines that outline specifications for capacity, accuracy, effects of humidity and temperature change and even how the label must appear on the scale. If a scale meets these requirements, the manufacturer can request NTEP approval and label their scale "NTEP-approved." However, this doesn't necessarily mean a scale is legal-for-trade right out of the box. Because of varying local laws and regulations, scales that are labeled NTEP-approved might not be legal-for-trade without additional supporting documentation. The NTEP-approval specifically recognizes that the individual scale model is compliant with NIST Handbook 44 guidelines as it applies to legal-for-trade usage.
What is Legal-for-Trade?
Legal-for-trade is required for any scale that is used by a person or business to buy or sell goods based upon weight. Generally speaking, these scales are used wherever a product is sold by it's weight. Think of a deli, one of your favorite frozen yogurt spots or a hardware store selling by the pound. These are all good examples and there are plenty more.
A scale that is used in legal-for-trade applications must be certified by an approved agency. An example of an agency would be a state-certified scale repair company, like M2 Calibration, that is certified to inspect, repair and place-into-service legal-for-trade scales. The certified technician working in representation of the agency is required to ensure the scale meets requirements set forth by Handbook 44 and that it can be placed into service as a legal-for-trade scale.
So to summarize, NTEP-approved and legal-for-trade do not carry the same meaning. NTEP-approval specifies that a particular weighing device meets NIST Handbook 44 guidelines to be used in legal-for-trade applications. A scale that is legal-for-trade must be NTEP-approved but may also require additional documentation and certifications to be used for selling products based on weight.**
Not all industries and applications follow the same guidelines. Legal-for-trade requirements vary from state to state, and even city to city in some instances. If you are unsure whether or not your scale should be legal-for-trade, we suggest speaking with your state and local governments to ensure compliance. This article is only designed to provide basic-information and in no way includes all rules and regulations.