Country Information France

France has a population of 68 million and is a Republic headed by a President. Legislative power rests with a Senate and National Assembly from which are appointed a Prime Minister and Cabinet.

For administrative purposes France is split into 18 Regions ( Régions : 13 metropolitan Regions including Corsica, plus the island of La Réunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guyana and Mayotte) ; 95 metropolitan Departments (Départements), 6 Overseas Territories included Mayotte, 333 Sub-Departments (Arrondissements) ; 2054 Districts (Cantons) and some  35 416 Municipalities (Communes).

Due to an administrative reorganisation of the territory issued the 1 January 2016, the number of Regions was reduced from 27 to 18. Each of the Departments are numbered (generally in alphabetical order) originally from 01 (Ain) through to for example, 89 (Yonne).

The Capital of France, Paris, is situated in Région Île-de-France). The Paris Region is divided into the City of Paris (Département number 75), Seine-et-Marne (77), Yvelines (78), Essonne (91), Hauts-de-Seine (92); Seine St- Denis (93),Val de Marne (94) and Val-d'Oise (95). The France metropolitan covers a land area of 551 695 km2.

French legal metrology controls stem from the post-Revolution period. In 1837 the metric system of weights and measures was introduced. Thereafter legal units of measurement were implemented in the electrical, calorific and other areas and the field of application of controls extended so that today there are 37 categories of measuring instruments subject to French legal metrology control. The basic law is still the law of 1837 which has been modified in 2014 to introduce administrative penalties.

Responsibility for legal metrology is at central Government level. The Bureau de la Métrologie (BM) within the Directorate General of Enterprises (DGE) is part of the Ministry of Economy and Finance which is also in charge of industry. The BM defines the general rules of legal metrology, prepares regulations, surveys designated and notified bodies, co-ordinates metrological controls, market surveillance and the work done by the DI(R)ECCTE, participates in European or international meetings (Commission, WELMEC, OIML).

Surveillance of all stakeholders (verification bodies, manufacturers, repairers, installers and users) is administered through the Regional Departments of Business, Competition, Consumer Affairs, Labour and Employment (DI(R)ECCTE).

Fundamental metrology in France is since January 2005 the responsibility of the Laboratoire National de Métrologie et d'Essais (LNE). Due to historical reason several national laboratories are involved in this activity. The LNE is a public body with commercial activities under the control of the Ministry in charge of Industry.

France has a comprehensive national QA accreditation structure in place. Accreditation of testing laboratories is delivered by COFRAC (Comité Français d'Accréditation). Several bodies accredited by COFRAC as Certification bodies for quality systems provide QA third party certification.

In legal metrology great use is being made of external non-governmental organizations to perform type approval work, initial verification, re-verifications and periodical verification of instruments in use. Tasks have been widely contracted out to private organizations complying with criteria based on EN 17020 and EN 17025 for the tests and having traceable metrological standards and competence. Evidence of accreditation by COFRAC, the national accreditation body for testing laboratories, or equivalent accreditation, is also generally sought. Designation of designated or notified bodies is via the ministry, agreement of verification bodies is via the Préfet de Département (a political appointee representing the national government in the locality) [NB the agreement of verification bodies for in-service instruments is generally signed by the DI(R)ECCTE on behalf of the Préfet] on the advice of the DI(R)ECCTE and based on an initial audit carried out by his service. DI(R)ECCTE inspectors monitor and audit the performance of the private companies by surveillance of instruments and premises. Approved verification bodies also have to report periodically to the DI(R)ECCTE. This surveillance can result in DI(R)ECCTE inspectors recommending the withdrawal of Préfet approval for the agreed verification bodies. The first external appointees came into operation on 1 January 1994 for non-automatic weighing instruments, petrol pumps, liquid petroleum gas pumps and road tanker meters, and engine exhaust gas analysers, it is now widely used for other categories. After the initial period of the agreement, the bodies have to be accredited by COFRAC for their activity.

For type examination and approval of quality systems of manufacturers and repairers the designated body is the LNE (certification department).

National Initial verification of measuring instruments are performed by private bodies designated by the ministry.

For many categories owners of instruments are required by law to maintain a Metrological Information booklet and keep it available for DI(R)ECCTE inspection. The booklet retains details of verifications and repairs and any qualified company carrying out statutory periodic verification.

Instruments concerned are listed below, if used for purposes listed in article 1 of the decree dated 3 May 2001 or, concerning Non Automatic Weighing Instruments if used for purposes listed in 1° to 6° in III article 5.1 of the decree dated 3 May 2001.

  • Weights
  • Non automatic weighing instruments
  • Automatic weighing instruments
  • Cold water meters
  • Hot water meters
  • Gas meters
  • Orifice plate meters
  • Gas volume conversion devices
  • Gas mass measuring devices
  • Active electrical energy meters
  • Heat meters
  • Instruments for determining energy repartition (other than heat meters)
  • Measuring system for continuous and dynamic measurement of quantities of liquids other than water
  • Depth gauges for liquids
  • Bulk milk tankers
  • Calibrated tank
  • Materiel measures of length
  • Odometers
  • Area measuring instruments
  • Multi -dimensional measuring instruments
  • Exhaust gas analysers
  • Smoke meters (Opacimeters)
  • Manometers for vehicle tyres
  • Speed meters
  • Instruments to measure the distance between cars
  • Breath analysers
  • Tachographs
  • Taximeters
  • Sound meters
  • Moisture meters for cereal grain
  • Refractometers for grape
  • Sugar meters for beet
  • Thermometers for control of food temperature control or expertise
  • Alcohol meter and alcohol tables
  • Bottles used as measuring container
  • Capacity measures for grain
  • Capacity measures for liquid
  • Instruments are generally subject to type approval, initial verification and mandatory re-verification unless otherwise specified

LNE - département Certification des Instruments de Mesure - is designated body for the national type approval. LNE (NB number 0071) is also notified body for modules B, H1 and other modules in the field of all specific annexes under MID and the NAWI directive. 

Approval from LNE are published directly on its website ( LNE is also designated to renew or amend when necessary the certificates previously issued by the ministry.

All approvals previously (until 1 January 2002) issued by the Sous direction de la métrologie (SDM) French authority for legal metrology and by LNE are published directly on the website (

National initial verification is performed by designated independent bodies (see list on or by approval of the quality system of manufacturer or the repairer. 

Concerning MID and NAWI, LNE (NB number 0071) is notified for all modules except F and F1. 

Cognac Jaugeage (NB number 1761) and Mesure et Services (NB number 1875) are notified bodies for modules F and F1 for some categories,  and Tri Pesage Services (NB number 2303) is notified body for module F for MI-006. 

LNE and other private designated bodies have their own tariffs. 

Quality assurance is also used in the field of initial verification of repaired instruments. (see list of manufacturers and repairers with quality system approved and surveyed by LNE on 

The requirements for manufacturers and repairers are set in the decree dated 3 May 2001, the arrêté of 31 December 2001 and in the arrêté of 9 June 2016. For the quality system reference is made to ISO standard 9001 with the specific application to legal metrology (see WELMEC Guides).

Control of instruments in service is generally based on a mandatory periodical verification performed by approved external bodies evidencing compliance with EN 17020, EN 17025 for the tests and specific metrological requirements. The list of verification bodies per category is available on the website : The details about the control in service for each category are fixed in specific arrêté concerning each category of measuring instrument.

Inspection intervals are:

  • Trade weights: 4 years
  • Weighing instruments in regulated use
    • Direct sales to the public (Max< 30 kg): 2 years
    • Other regulated uses: 1 year
  • Petrol Pumps: 1 year
  • Taximeters: 1 year
  • Gas analysers: 1 year
  • Moisture meters for cereal grain: 1 year
  • Thermometers for control of food temperature control or expertise: 1 year
  • Refractometers for grape: 1 year

Error allowances are generally mpe (maximum permissible error) x 2 for weighing instruments, mpe x 1 for most liquid measuring meters other than water.

Market surveillance is performed by BM and the DI(R)ECCTE. This activity is in development (it includes use of information gathered from classical metrological activities and a special budget for complete testing of some instruments).

In addition to spot check by the DI(R)ECCTE, since 2005 systematic and national operation of instruments in service have been carried out. They are called "opération ciblée prioritaire". 

They are prepared by BM and the DI(R)ECCTE (agreement on the target, the tests and examination to be performed, the weeks of action, the gathering of data). 

They touched the following fields : 2007 on road tankers, gas analysers, 2008 on NAWI (scales and weighbridges), 2009 on AWI and NAWI used for weighing food for variable quantity, 2010 on fuel dispensers, 2011 on NAWI used in food and agriculture companies, 2012 on cold water meters, 2013 on Point Of Sale associated with NAWI, 2014 on petrol pump and the associated payment device, 2015 on NAWI used in food and agriculture companies, 2016 on tachographs used in transports of persons, 2017 on heat meters.

Results are communicated to stakeholders and media.

BM has 9 engineers working in legal metrology. There are 128 engineers, technicians and verification staff employed by the DI(R)ECCTE. The training of legal metrology officers is provided by the Ecole des Mines de Douai and has a specialised training in quality and metrology.

Two systems of sanctions exist in France : a system of administrative fines and a system of punishment by courts. Particularly, are punishable by fine or imprisonment and subject to the jurisdiction of the courts:

  • use of false or inaccurate instruments or the giving of short measure
  • possession, selling, delivering, putting in service in France measuring instruments that do not comply with regulations 

Other offences are punishable by administrative fine such as: 

  • use of non-compliant instrument,
  • use of instrument which hasn’t had mandatory periodic verification,
  • use of instrument repaired which hasn’t been verified after reparation,
  • repairing an instrument without submit it to verification after

Inspectors can confiscate instruments but would refer offences to the prosecuting authorities. Inspectors may issue written warnings. Fines imposed by courts are set by general legislation whereas administrative fines are set by specific legal metrology laws.

The Directive is implemented by the decree of 3 may 1961, the decree of 3 may 2001 and the arrêté of 9 June 2016. The Article 1 point 2 category a-f instruments controlled by the Directive were all subject to French legal metrology controls prior to implementation of the Directive. Since December 1999 LNE (NB number 0071) is notified body for modules B, D and G. Since February 2010, Cognac Jaugeage (NB number 1761) is notified body for module F.

No administrative gravity values as referred in Annex II point 7.2 have been identified. The manufacturer is responsible to bring the instrument in conformity with the maximum permissible errors for the place of use. However the approach developed in guide WELMEC 2 is accepted. 

The French implementing Decree does not make it an offence to use the weighing instrument below Min.

Certification and approval of manufacturers quality systems is based on existing national provisions, defined in a reference document of 2004 based on ISO 9001 and metrological requirements reliance being placed upon the guidance for applying ISO 9001 and EN 45000 criteria to manufacturers systems. (document under revision due to update of ISO 9001). LNE is the only French notified body for the module D.

The directive is implemented by the decree of 3 may 1961, the decree of 3 may 2001 and the arrêté of 9 June 2016.

The directive is transposed for all categories even if a few of them are not subject to legal control in France (length measuring instrument, capacity serving measures). This gives the possibility to have notified bodies even in the field that are not regulated in France and also to assist other Member states in the field of market surveillance and exchange of information if needed. 

BM is in charge of implementation of MID in general, the designation of notified bodies and market surveillance together with DI(R)ECCTE. 

LNE (NB number 0071) is notified body for all modules except F and F1 and for all categories.

Other private independent bodies have been notified for module F and F1 for different categories of measuring instruments (Cognac Jaugeage (NB number 1761), Mesure et Services (NB number 1875), and Tri Pesage Services (NB number 2303).

The following is for information only:

There are no gravity zones established in France for the regulation about NAWI and there are no requirements for zone stickers.

Manufacturers have the responsibility for bringing instruments within the maximum permissible errors for new instruments at the place of use.

To achieve this the new gravity concept as described in WELMEC guide 2 is accepted in France.

Manufacturers may also define their own zones according to their marketing organisation.

LAST UPDATE: February 2018

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