Country Information Germany

Germany is a federal parliamentary republic. It has a two-chamber parliament (the directly elected Bundestag and the Bundesrat which comprises state representatives). The Federal Republic of Germany consists of 16 federal states (‘Laender’) which include the three city states of Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg, and has a population of 83 million (2018). The capital is Berlin. Each state (‘Land’ - the singular of ‘Laender’) has its own constitution, state government and state parliament (‘Landtag’) and is responsible for enforcing federal legislation, which forms the largest proportion of German law. Certain areas are enforced nationally by federal departments, although the federal states are responsible for enforcing the bulk of German legislation. Enforcement functions are generally performed by the federal state governments, regional, rural and municipal authorities.

The judiciary is comprised of the Federal Constitutional Court (‘Bundesverfassungsgericht’, responsible for constitutional matters), the Federal Courts (‘Bundesgerichte’) provided for in the Basic Law and the courts of the federal states (‘Landesgerichte’). 

The history of German metrology reflects the fact that Germany in its modern European sense did not exist until the Prussians succeeded in unifying most of the individual German states and principalities in the 19th century. In 1868, Prussia passed a Weights and Measures Act. The metric system was adopted all over Germany towards the end of the 19th century. The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) is the national metrology institute of Germany, accountable to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (‘Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie’ - ‘BMWi’). As a scientific and technical higher federal authority, PTB establishes the basis for scientific, industrial and legal metrology and provides scientific and technical services.

In Germany, two different laws define regulations and requirements in the field of metrology. The German Units and Time Act (‘Einheiten- und Zeitgesetz’) charges PTB with the realisation of the units and uniformity in the dissemination of the units by third parties. This includes the responsibility to ensure the traceability of reference standards used in the field of legal metrology to national standards. The second law in the field of metrology is the German Measurement and Verification Act (‘Mess- und Eichgesetz’ - ‘MessEG’) dealing with all metrological subjects under legal supervision.

The Measurement and Verification Act was fundamentally amended in 2015. This new regulation has implemented the European approach of placing measuring instruments on the market for all measuring instruments regulated in Germany, including non-harmonised ones. For the nationally regulated measuring instruments, the procedure for type approval and initial verification was thus replaced by the conformity assessment procedures laid down in the New Legislative Framework of the EU.

Measuring instruments which have been lawfully placed on the market may be used for the duration of a verification period. Subsequently, a verification is required in order to continue using the measuring instruments.

At PTB, a Rule Determination Committee has been set up. Based on the state of the art, the Rule Determination Committee determines rules, findings and technical specifications for measuring instruments, for conformity assessment procedures and for persons using measuring instruments or measured values. For European harmonised measuring instruments, the committee will only be active in cases where no European rules exist. The committee includes representatives from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, the responsible authorities of the federal states, conformity assessment bodies, state-approved test centres, business associations and consumer associations. The rules and findings identified by the committee as well as further information on the committee can be found at

Conformity assessments under the Measurement and Verification Act may be carried out by recognised private conformity assessment bodies and by conformity assessment bodies attached to authorities. All conformity assessment bodies must comply with the legal requirements relating to independence, competence and confidentiality.

In order to standardise conformity assessment practice and to provide further training for the bodies, PTB has set up the Committee of Conformity Assessment Bodies (‘Ausschuss der Konformitätsbewertungsstellen’ - ‘AdKBS’).

An overview of the conformity assessment bodies operating under the Measurement and Verification Act can be found under ‘Mitglieder’ (= members).

The monitoring of the lawful placing on the market of measuring instruments (market surveillance) and the monitoring of the legitimate use of measuring instruments and measured values (surveillance in use) is the responsibility of the 16 federal states and is carried out by the verification authorities.

After the expiry or termination of the verification period, a verification is required in order to be allowed to continue the usage of a measuring instrument.

The verification period is 2 years unless specified in the Measurement and Verification Ordinance. Examples are:

  • Weights for use in trade: : 4 years
  • Weighing instruments in trade use: : 2 years
  • Fuel dispensers: 2 years
  • LPG meters: 1 year
  • Cold water meters: 6 years
  • Gas meters: 8 years
  • Active energy meters: electromechanical/electronical: 16/8 years
  • Breath analysers: : 6 months

Anyone who has a reasonable interest in proof of the accuracy of a measurement can apply for the measuring instrument to be checked (compliance test).

Verification and compliance tests lie within the responsibility of the 16 federal states and are carried out by the verification authorities.

As some federal states have combined their verification activities, there are now 13 supervising verification authorities (‘Eichbehoerden’). They supervise 73 local verification offices spread throughout the 16 federal states with a staff of about 1,550. They verify about 1.2 million measuring instruments each year.

The necessary harmonisation of their activities is performed by a working group of the verification authorities called the ‘Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mess- und Eichwesen’ (‘AGME’). 

Vocational and technical training of staff in the field of legal metrology is provided by the ‘Deutsche Akademie fuer Metrologie’ (DAM’). 

Verification and compliance tests of gas, water, electricity and heat meters can also be performed by so-called ‘state-approved test centres’ (‘staatlich anerkannte Prüfstellen’). These bodies are set up by public utility companies, by the instrument manufacturers or by service companies (repairers) and are designated and supervised by the locally responsible supervising verification authorities. More information about this topic can be found on the AGME website

Service companies (repairers) are not permitted to verify instruments. There is, however, a procedure whereby authorised service technicians (‘anerkannte Instandsetzer’) may repair, e.g., petrol pumps and weighing instruments and, following repair, the instruments may be used for a limited time, until verification, if – among other things – the verification is requested immediately. Service technicians are authorised by the local verification offices, and a ‘repair mark’ (‘Instandsetzerkennzeichen’) is used by the service technician to identify the relevant instrument as repaired.

The Measurement and Verification Act applies to measuring instruments intended to determine the following measurands and provided that the measuring instruments are intended for commercial or official use or for measurements of public interest:

  1.  length or combinations of lengths for length or area determination,
  2.  mass,
  3.  temperature,
  4.  pressure,
  5.  volume,
  6.  measurements in the supply of electricity,
  7.  amount of heat (heat and cold in circulatory systems),
  8.  density or mass fraction or mass concentration or volume concentration of liquids,
  9.  density or mass fraction or mass concentration or volume concentration of media other than liquids, provided that the following is to be determined:
    • the moisture content of cereals and oil seeds,
    • the bulk density of cereals,
    • the breath alcohol content,
    • the fat content of milk products,
    • the lean meat content of pig carcasses
  10. other parameters in the supply of flowing liquids or flowing gases
  11. sound pressure level and measured quantities derived from it
  12. measurements in public transport, if they serve the following purposes
    • official control of public transport
    • the determination of the fare in taxis
    • the determination of the remuneration for rental vehicles, if the charge is calculated according to the distance travelled
  13. dose of ionising radiation (in certain cases)

Note: Exemptions may apply to certain measuring instruments or uses.

In the state and local verification offices, there are 505 engineers and technicians and 643 masters (master craftspeople). The engineers have a degree qualification and the masters all possess a Master Craftspersons’s Certificate. The staff of the state verification authorities and the local verification offices all need to pass an examination set by the ‘Deutsche Akademie fuer Metrologie’, a state institution. Engineers undergo a 6-month supervisory training period and masters complete one of 3 months. This system with two types of metrological officials is maintained throughout the state and local offices. Further training is regulated at state level.

Additionally, the state-approved test centres in the private sector, performing verification work, employ about 147 scientists, 362 engineers and 412 technicians. These are supervised and examined for competence by the state verification authorities.

About 50 engineers from the verification offices are trained in quality assurance systems management. They must complete a training seminar and several instruction sessions. These assessors’ expertise is extended through the supervision and auditing of accredited laboratories.

The officials from supervising and local verification authorities are not generally engaged in providing any consumer protection services other than those relating to legal metrology. They advise businesses on legal requirements and investigate consumer complaints about inaccurate equipment. Additionally, officials are responsible for performing reference tests in relation to the average quantity of pre-packaged goods. These tests are conducted in accordance with frequency periods set by law. Generally, each pre-packaging line is expected to be tested at least once a year. Officials visit packers without prior warning. A fee is charged for this, the amount depending on the number of packages and lines tested, and the time spent on site.

Violations of the regulations of the Measurement and Verification Act can be punished as an administrative offence with fines of up to 50,000 €.

The NAWID is transposed into national legislation.

So far as gravity values are concerned, Germany is divided into 4 zones for Classes II and III of non-automatic weighing instruments. Inscriptions on the weighing instrument refer either to the location of installation or to the zone, depending on the number of scale intervals. Details of gravity zones are published and available on the WELMEC website under ‘Gravity Information’ for Germany.

The MID is transposed into national legislation for all measuring instruments, with the exception of material measures of a length up to 2 metres.


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