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WELMEC Country Info: Belgium

Belgium is a constitutional monarchy with a Prime Minister as Chief Executive and Head of Cabinet and a two chambered Parliament. For administrative purposes the country is divided into 10 Provinces (Provincies), 43 districts (Arrondissements) and Cantons, and 589 Minicipalities (Gemeenten, Communes). Due to its locality Belgium is a country with French, Dutch and German speaking communities. The country is divided into 3 regions, the French and German speaking Walloon region, the Flemish region to the North of the country, and the Brussels region which is bilingual. As a result Department titles are given in both Dutch and French. Not only is Brussels the capital city of Belgium it can also claim to be the centre of the European Union housing the European Commission and the Council of Ministers. Belgium has a population of some 10 million and covers an area of 30,528 sq km.

Organisational Structure and Background

Metrological control is a function of central government, the Metrology Service being a part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The Metrology Service is a division of the Directorate-General "Quality and Safety" within the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The law of the 16 June 1970 on measuring units, standards and measuring instruments, modified by the law of 21 February 1986, sets out the responsibilities and tasks of the Metrology Service including:

  • Definition of the legal system of measurement units
  • Realisation and custody of the national standards
  • Drafting regulations that fix the technical specifications for measuring instruments in legal metrology.
  • Type approval, initial and periodical verification and technical control of instruments used in trade, public health and public safety
  • Calibration of standards and measuring instruments used in industry, universities research centres, accredited laboratories and inspection bodies.
  • Expertise for the accreditation of calibration laboratories
  • Control of prepacked products with respect to mass and volume
  • Collaboration with international bodies and Co-operation, in the field of metrology, with standardisation bodies.

The Calibration Service and the Central Verification Service are located in Brussels. A third unit, the Regional Verification Service, operates through regional offices in, Ghent, Antwerp, Liege, and Namur. The Central and Regional Verification Services are additionally responsible for the control of prepacked products. Use of limited privatised facilities is made for some legal metrology inspection and verification work, restricted to specific categories of instruments.

Equipment Subject to National Controls

  • Simple length measures
  • Non-liquid volume measures for commercial transactions
  • Liquid volume measures for commercial transactions
  • Dipsticks
  • Medium accuracy weights
  • Liquid volume metering instruments for commercial use

    • Gasoline, diesel
    • Liquefied petroleum gas
    • Bulk Milk
    • Lubricating oil
    • Heating oil

  • Cold water meters
  • Warm water meters
  • Gas volume meters
  • Electricity meters
  • Non-automatic weighing instruments

    • Self-indicating?? (90/384/EEC Article 1(2)(a) (1,2,3,5,6)
    • Non self-indicating ? (note: (5) only in pharmacies)

  • Automatic weighing instruments for commercial use

    • Discontinuous totalising
    • Continuous totalising (beltweighers)
    • Gravimetric filling
    • Rail weighbridges
    • Catch weighers

      • Checkweighers
      • Weight graders
      • Weigh/price labeller and weigh labeller

  • Law enforcement instruments

    • Chronotachographs (type approval only)
    • Evidential breath analyser

  • Road traffic measuring instruments

    • Radars
    • Taximeters
    • Tyre pressure gauges

  • Measuring instruments for grading cereals (no type approval)
  • Tankers (no type approval)
  • Fixed storage tanks
  • Alcoholmeters and areometers for alcohol

Other than where stated most of the equipment is subject to the full range of type approval, initial verification and mandatory reverification controls.

Type Approval

The Metrology Service performs the type approvals function. The type approvals function is employing 6 engineers and 5 technicians for the task. Sub-contractor facilities, accredited to EN 45001 are used where testing facilities are not available to the Metrology Service, eg EMC testing. A published list of type approval costs is available to potential submitters. The Service's principal workload in EEC certificates is in the approval of cold water meters. For national approvals its greatest volume is in weighing instruments, non-water liquid flowmeters, electricity and gas volume meters. Original certificates are published only in the national languages.

Initial Verification

Initial verification of all instruments, other than some specialised instruments such as breath analysers, is performed by the regional verification offices of Metrology Service. There is no system permitting any manufacturer, repairer or installer to self-declare conformity of equipment for nationally approved instruments. For the purposes of 90/384/EEC the quality system of manufacturers who wish to perform EC initial verification has to be approved by a notified body (EC declaration of conformity, pt. 2 of annex 11 of 90/384/ EEC). Law sets fees for initial verification.

Inspection and Reverification

A mandatory reverification system operates in Belgium. Typical reverification intervals are:

trade weights 4 years
weighing instruments in trade use 4 years
petrol dispensing pumps and measuring systems for other liquids than water 1 year
cold water meters initial period 16 years
(8 years if > 10 m3 /h)
tyre pressure gauges 4 years
electricity and gas meters initial period from
10 to 20 years
breath analysers 1 year
simple length measures 4 years
volume measures 4 years
measuring instruments for grading cereals 4 years
warm water meters 8 years
speed measuring devices (traffic control)

Fees are specified in law. Errors are based on mpe x 2 except for measuring systems systems for other liquids than water and gas meters. In 2000 nearly 30,000 petroleum dispensing pumps were subject to mandatory reverification. 4 per cent failed. Of over 25,000 non-automatic trade weighing instruments reverified, 2.7% failed. In the case of instruments subject to repair or adjustment, there is no provision in Belgium for repairers or installers to reverify equipment*

* There is a provision for measuring system for other liquids than water..

Legal Metrology Practitioners and Scope

In addition to those engineers and technicians involved in type approvals work, some 27 engineers and 23 technicians are employed by the Central and Regional Verification Services. Engineers have a university background. All engineers and technicians are given twelve months post entry training.

The scope of their activities goes beyond controls over weighing and measuring instruments and inspectors are engaged in dealing with short measure consumer complaints, weighing overloaded lorries and investigating complaints concerning misleading prices or overcharging. The Metrology Service also enforces legislation governing prepackages and average quantity, inspectors being involved in both systems approval and monitoring. Inspectors will provide advice to businesses on legal requirements and are increasingly called upon to give advice on quality assurance and the application of ISO 9000.


Financial penalties may be applied by the courts. There is no system of administrative penalties. Two penalty systems operate, one relating to inaccurate equipment, the other where more serious issues such as fraud are involved. Only in the latter cases are prosecutions brought before the courts by Government prosecutors. Instruments used fraudulently or found significantly outside inspection tolerances are liable to forfeiture. Instruments found generally outside inspection tolerances may be prohibited from further use pending repair.

Emphasis is placed up preventing offences rather than prosecuting, and equipment problems are therefore generally dealt with by way of warnings. Some 2,000 warnings are given each year. Latest figures show that 9 prosecutions were taken in a year.

Directive 90/384/EEC

All Article 1(2)(a) category instruments were subject to Belgian national control prior to implementation of 90/384/EEC, other than those in 1(2)(a) 4 and 5. The Directive was implemented as the 'Arreté royal du 4 août 1992 Moniteur Belge du 9 octobre 1992’. All existing Central and Regional Verification offices have been notified for EC verification purposes. The legal system for the accreditation of bodies operating product certification, quality system certification and certification of personnel is called BELCERT.
Designated instrument classes are required only for instruments used for average quantity prepackaging purposes and in pharmacies (Class II).

Updated March 2003