Regulations and standards

Standards are used by a diverse range of organisations to enhance their products and services, improve safety and quality, meet industry best practice, and support trade into existing and new markets.

By referencing standards in legislation, regulators draw on existing best practice developed by expert committees using a consensus-based and transparent process. Incorporating standards also allows regulators to provide detailed requirements without encumbering the regulation or guidance with technical detail.

Standards can be:

A standard is not, of itself, mandatory or legally required. A standard has to be incorporated by reference in an Act or delegated legislation in order to be mandatory. Once referenced, it becomes part of the technical regulation framework.

It is important to consider the use of a standard within the policy analysis objectives under the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) system, overseen by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Standards New Zealand is available to discuss and provide advice on the use of standards to support policy objectives. There is more information in our booklet 'How are standards used in policy and legislation?'

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed a set of tools to help policy-makers understand the benefits of international standards, and to support increased cooperation between standards developers and policy makers. The tools are set out below:


Summary of ISO’s new tools for policy-makers

Brochure(external link)

Using and referencing ISO and IEC standards to support public policy

Contains detailed information on the advantages and benefits of using ISO standards and describes methods of referencing, with national examples. 

Leaflet(external link)

ISO and IEC International Standards – for policy makers

An executive summary of the material contained in the brochure. Provides a quick overview of key issues for the busy reader. 

PPT presentation(external link)

Using and referencing ISO and IEC standards to support public policy

A PPT that can be used by ISO members or their national policy makers to present the key issues contained in the brochure.

Policy website(external link)

Brings together ISO’s resources for policy makers and provides detailed national examples and international sectoral examples of ISO standards being used to support policy initiatives.

Conformity assessment website(external link)

Helps policy makers identify existing conformity assessment tools, consider possible conformity assessment routes, and select the solution that best suits their needs.

Last updated 9 November 2017