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Switzerland

Political system and demography

Switzerland is a federal republic with a population of 8.2 million. With Bern as capital it is divided into 26 cantons and 3000 municipalities. Switzerland is a multilingual society with 65.6 % speaking German, 22.8 % French, 8.4 % Italian and 0.6 % Romansch.

Switzerland is member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and has bilateral agreements with the European Union, among which one on the mutual recognition of conformity assessments. This agreement also covers measuring instruments.

Organisational Structure and Background

The responsibility for legislation in metrology lies with the central authority, the Swiss Confederation, whereas for the enforcement, the responsibility is split between the local authorities – the cantons – and the Confederation, depending on the category of instrument.

The Federal Institute of Metrology METAS is the National Metrology Institute (NMI) of Switzerland. It is operated as an autonomous unit of the Swiss administration and is a separate legal entity. For political oversight METAS is attached to the Ministry of Justice and Police and the operational steering is ensured by an independent supervising board.

METAS is in charge of basic, industrial and legal metrology in Switzerland. It is responsible for the realisation of the metrological standards and their comparison with peers around the world; it disseminates the physical units to science, industry and administration through calibration services; finally, METAS is also the national authority in legal metrology in Switzerland.

Equipment Subject to National Controls

Scope
As stated in the federal law on metrology (SR 941.20), the scope of legal metrology in Switzerland covers instruments used for:

  • trade,
  • health of humans and animals,
  • protection of the environment,
  • public safety, and
  • official determination of facts (e.g. when levying taxes, fees or fines).

 

The general procedures and essential requirements are laid down in the Ordinance on measuring instruments (SR 941.210). A specific measuring instrument category is under legal control if the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) has issued an instrument specific ordinance, detailing the requirements for the category at hand. The following instrument specific ordinances are in force:

  • Ordinance of the FDJP on instruments for length measurement (SR 941.201)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on instruments for sound measurement (SR 941.210.1)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on instruments for the determination of content and quantity of alcohol (SR 941.210.2)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on exhaust gas analysers of combustion heating systems (SR 941.210.3)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on breath analysers (SR 941.210.4)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on instruments for ionizing radiation (SR 941.210.5)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on taximeters (SR 941.210.6)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on material measures (SR 941.211)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on measuring systems and instruments for liquids other than water (SR 941.212)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on non-automatic weighing instruments (SR 941.213)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on automatic weighing instruments (SR 941.214)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on audiometric instruments (SR 941.216)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on weights (SR 941.221.2)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on instruments for thermal energy (SR 941.231)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on instruments for quantity of gas (SR 941.241)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on exhaust gas analysers of combustion motors (SR 941.242)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on electrical energy and power (SR 941.251)
  • Ordinance of the FDJP on instruments for speed and traffic light controls (SR 941.261)


Placing instruments on the market
Switzerland has implemented the directive on non-automatic weighing instruments (NAWI-Directive 2014/31/EC) and the Measuring Instrument Directive (MID; 2014/32/EC). The requirements on measuring instruments covered by these directives are harmonised between Switzerland and the EU and conformity assessments are mutually recognized through the Mutual Recognition Arrangement. Instruments that have successfully passed conformity assessment in either the EU or Switzerland can thus be placed on the market of the other party without any further barrier.
Instruments not covered by the mentioned EU directives but under legal control in Switzerland need in most cases a national type approval before placed on the market. METAS is the issuing authority for national type approvals.

Subsequent verification
All instruments under legal control in Switzerland, regardless of whether they are placed on the market with a conformity assessment or with a national type approval, are subject to subsequent, periodic verifications. Depending on the category of instrument, the subsequent verification is carried out either by the cantons or by METAS. The 26 cantons are in charge of the verification of the following instruments:

  • Length measuring instruments
  • Material measures
  • Weights
  • Weighing instruments
  • Instruments for liquids other than water
  • Exhaust gas analysers

 

Each canton organises the verification in its jurisdiction. Every canton operates one or several verification offices. Together, they employ approximately 50 verification officers. These officers are trained and supervised by METAS.
Instruments that are not under the responsibility of the cantons are in principle verified by METAS. However, METAS can appoint entities of the private or public sector and delegate specific verification work to these verification laboratories. At present, about 50 verification laboratories have been appointed, mostly for the verification of utility meters (electricity, gas, heat).

Market Surveillance and Inspection in Use
As for the verification, the responsibility for market surveillance and inspection in use of measuring instruments is shared between the cantons and the Confederation.
METAS acts as the central authority for market surveillance, establishing the annual programme, processing the reported cases and ensuring the contact with market surveillance authorities from other countries. It conducts market surveillance actions for instruments that are not under the responsibility of the cantons. The cantons organise the market surveillance for the measuring instruments they are in charge of in close collaboration with METAS.
The inspection in use is mainly carried out by the local verification officers. If they discover non-compliant instruments in their area, they are entitled to take the necessary measures to re-establish conformity or to prohibit the further use of the instrument.

Regulation on Prepackages

Both prepackages of equal nominal filling and randomly filled preckages, are under legal control in Switzerland. The scope of the legislation is limited to consumer protection and excludes business-to-business transactions.

Prepackages of equal nominal fillings are controlled by statistical means. The procedure for the control of a sample of prepackages in Switzerland differs from the procedure foreseen by the EU regulations. However, the two systems are considered equivalent. Thus, based on the Mutual Recognition Arrangement between the EU and Switzerland, products fulfilling the Swiss regulation can bear the European conformity sign for prepackages “e” and be exported to the EU without further barriers. Vice versa, EU-products, bearing the “e” can be imported to Switzerland without further systematic testing.

Checks of prepackages are carried out by the local verification officers. METAS acts as the central authority for the control of prepackages, establishing the annual programme, processing the reported cases if needed and ensuring the contact with authorities from other countries.

Update:  January 2016