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Trade measurement 

Buying and selling goods and services by weight and other measurements.

Trade measurement laws apply to all retail and wholesale transactions where measurement determines price.

You must comply with Australia’s trade measurement laws if you:

  • buy or sell goods or services by measurement (e.g. selling meat, buying gold or transporting freight by weight)
  • manufacture, pack, import or sell pre-packaged goods
  • supply or maintain measuring instruments used for trade.

Consistency and certainty in measurement supports fair and open competition. It makes all businesses, regardless of their size or financial strength, follow the same rules.

    Goods by weight and other measurements

    Selling alcohol 

    Trade measurement laws regulate the retail and wholesale sale of alcohol.

    Selling bread and bakery goods 

    Bread and bakery items are either sold by number or by weight.

    Selling cane sugar and grain 

    Cane sugar and grain are traded based on quantity and quality.

    Selling firewood

    You can sell firewood by weight, volume or lot.

    Selling fruit and vegetables 

    Trade measurement laws regulate the retail and wholesale sale of fruit and vegetables.

    Selling garden landscape materials 

    You may sell loose garden landscape materials by volume, by weight or by lot.

    Selling liquid fuels 

    Trade measurement laws regulate the wholesale and retail sale of liquid fuels.

    Selling meat

    Meat is any part of a dead animal, including any attached bone or bone marrow, connective tissue, fat, rind, nerves, blood or skin.

    Selling seafood

    You must sell most seafood, when not pre-packaged, by weight.

    Precious metals and stones 

    Trade measurement laws regulate the buying, selling and valuating of precious stones or metals when using a measuring instrument, such as a scale.

    Pre-packaged goods by weight and other measurements

    If you manufacture, pack, import or retail pre-packaged goods you must ensure every batch complies with legal measurement requirements.

    This includes meeting requirements for:

    • label size, format and placement
    • the type and units of measurement used on the label.

    You can sell pre-packaged goods by:

    • weight or volume
    • number or linear or area measurement.

    Measuring instruments

    If you supply or use a measuring instrument to determine the price when buying or selling goods and services, you must comply with measurement laws.

    Measuring instruments used for trade include:

    Trade measurement policy in development

    Electric vehicle charging stations

    Electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS) are used to charge electric vehicles. EVCS are used for trade if the cost to charge an electric vehicle is based on the amount of electrical energy delivered (kWh).

    The National Measurement Institute consulted on EVCS trade measurement policy in January 2022. We are continuing to evaluate consultation feedback and analyse options.

    While we confirm options, we will not take compliance action for supplying, installing or using an EVCS for trade that is not pattern approved or verified. This includes electricity meters that form part of an EVCS.

    When we reach a policy outcome, we will update our website and notify stakeholders by email. 

    International guide

    The International Organisation of Legal Metrology (OIML) has developed and published a Guide for EVCS ‘OIML G 22:2022, Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE).

    We have not yet made a decision about whether Australia will adopt the guide. 

    Get approval for measuring instruments

    We must approve the design (also called the pattern) of measuring instruments used for trade.

    Find out more about pattern approval.

    Verify measuring instruments

    You must ensure any measuring instrument you use is:

    • approved and suitable for its intended purpose
    • verified by a licensed technician (servicing licensee) before use.

    Learn more about servicing licensees.

    To find a servicing licensee near you, email tmlicensees@measurement.gov.au.

    Maintain measuring instruments

    In addition, you must:

    • ensure the instrument is accurate at all times while in use for trade
    • use it correctly
    • keep it clean and in good working order
    • have it re-verified after repair or adjustment.

    To assist in meeting your obligations under the law, we recommend you have a servicing licensee check the instrument regularly.

    Our role in trade measurement law

    The National Measurement Institute administers laws that cover:

    We aim to provide a high quality service. You can learn more about our public commitment on service standards and delivery for our customers and stakeholders in the legal metrology service charter.

    Tips for consumers

    You can help ensure traders comply with measurement laws.

    • Check the quantity statement on the goods you buy.
    • Make sure you have a clear view of scales when you buy goods by weight over the counter. The trader must place the scales must so you can see the weight, price per kilogram, total price and goods being weighed. If not, they should provide you with a written statement of the measurement.
    • Ensure scales display zero weight before the trader weighs your goods. 
    • Make sure there are no other items on the scales and the trader only weighs the goods you are purchasing when they calculate the price.
    • Check the price per kilogram on the scales matches the advertised price.
    • Check the total price on the scales is the price you’re charged at the checkout.
    • Check your receipt to ensure the calculated price matches the advertised price.
    • Pay only for the product, not the packaging material. In many stores, traders set the electronic checkout scales to automatically deduct the weight of the packaging during the weighing process. In other stores, staff manually set the scale to deduct the weight of the packaging materials. For example, when you buy apples in a plastic bag you should only pay for the apples. If you buy potato salad at the deli counter you should only pay for the salad, not for the weight of the plastic container.
    • If you are not present while the goods are measured, make sure you get a receipt that states the measurement used.
    • At the service station, after you have picked up the nozzle and before you start filling your fuel tank, make sure the display of the fuel dispenser is indicating all zeros on the volume and total price indicators.

    Trade measurement news

    Photo of an electric vehicle charging station in front of a car. There is a red colour overlay.
    National Measurement Institute

    International measurement standards for electric vehicle charging stations: have your say

    The National Measurement Institute (NMI) is seeking feedback on the new international standard for electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS). Consultation closes on 18 February 2022.…
    Photo of an electric vehicle charging station in front of a car. There is a red colour overlay.
    National Measurement Institute

    Regulating electric vehicle charging stations: have your say

    The National Measurement Institute (NMI) is seeking feedback on trade measurement policy for electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS). Consultation closes on 31 January 2021.