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WELMEC Country Info: Germany

In addition to a two-chambered parliament (the directly elected Bundestag and the Bundesrat comprised of state representatives) the Federal Republic of Germany comprises 16 federal states (Laender) which include the three city states of Berlin, Bremen, and Hamburg, and has a population of 82 million (2011). The capital is Berlin. Each state ('Land' - the single of Laender) has its own government or diet (Landtag) and is responsible for administering federal legislation, which forms the majority of German law. Certain areas are administered nationally by federal departments although the federal states are responsible for administering the bulk of legislation.

Judicial authority is exercised by the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht), the Federal Courts (Bundesgerichte) provided for in the Basic Law and the courts of the federal states. Enforcement functions are generally performed by the federal states governments, regional, country and municipal authorities.


Organisational Structure and Background

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. 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) www.ptb.de is the national metrology institute of Germany, accountable to the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (Bundesministerium fuer Wirtschaft und Technologie - BMWi). As a governmental institute of physics and metrology the 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 Unit and Time Act (Einheiten- und Zeitgesetz) gives the responsibility for the realisation of the units and the uniformity in the case of the dissemination of the units into the hands of PTB. This includes the responsibility to care for 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 Verification Act (Eichgesetz) dealing with all metrological subjects under legal supervision.

Under the Verification Act (Eichgesetz), PTB has responsibility for type testing and pattern approval for measuring instruments regulated by the national verification law and by EEC directives in the scope of the directive 2009/34/EC. The 16 federal states are responsible for market surveillance concerning the conformity of measuring instruments to legal requirements and the correct application of the verification law. This includes the initial and subsequent verification of instruments used for trade and official dealings, in traffic surveillance, in radiation, environmental and consumer protection. The relevant duties are delegated to verification authorities. As some federal states combined their activities in verification law there are finally 13 supervising verification authorities (Eichaufsichtsbehoerden). These supervise 67 local verification offices spread throughout the 16 federal states with about 1400 staff. They verify about 2.5 million measuring instruments each year.

Necessary harmonisation of their activities is performed by a working group of the verification authorities  “Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mess- und Eichwesen” (AGME) together with and under the responsibility of the PTB by the annual general assembly for verification (Vollversammlung).

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

Initial and subsequent verification of gas-, water-, electricity- and heat meters can also be performed by so called “state approved test centres” (staatlich anerkannte Pruefstellen). 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 supervising verification authorities in consultation with the PTB. More information about this topic can be found at the PTB website http://www.ptb.de/cms/index.php?id=3403&L=1 .

Germany has adopted the necessary regulations and administrative provisions into the verification act to comply with the relevant European Directives and Regulations. All measuring and weighing instruments placed on the market with conformity markings in accordance to the directives 2004/22/EC or 2009/23/EC are accepted as equivalent to nationally approved instruments with initial verification and subject to reverification in Germany. The end of the year in which the CE and M marking were affixed indicates the beginning of the reverification period.


Equipment Subject to National Controls


  • Length measures and their combinations

    • Material measures of length
    • Length, area and multidimensional measuring instruments
    • Timber measuring systems
    • Choirometer

  • Capacity serving measures for liquid, sold for immediate consumption
  • Measuring systems for non-liquid measuring goods
  • Volume measuring for fluids in rest state, like

    • Storage tanks
    • Measuring container for transport
    • Barrels

  • Measuring systems for liquids other than water, like

    • Measuring systems for liquefied gas
    • Bulk milk
    • Measuring systems for mineral oil, lubricating oil, cryogenic liquid
    • Measuring systems on road tankers for heating oil and fuel
    • Fuel dispensers

  • Water meters for cold and warm water
  • Gas meters and volume conversion devices
  • Electricity meters
  • Weights in trade use
  • Non-automatic weighing instruments
  • Automatic weighing instruments

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

      • Checkweighers
      • Weight graders

    • Weigh/price labeller and weigh labeller (no type approval)

  • Measuring instruments for grading cereals and oilseeds
  • Volume measuring instruments for laboratory purposes
  • Measuring instruments for density, like
    • Hydrometers, pycnometers, refractometers
    • Hydrostatic weighing instruments

  • Temperature measuring instruments, like

    • Thermometers measuring volume for commercial transactions e.g. gas volume, petrol volume
    • Thermometers for official control of frozen foods

  • Measuring instruments analysing milk
  • Measuring instruments used in road traffic

    • Taximeters
    • Tyre pressure gauges
    • Exhaust gas analysers

  • Law enforcement instruments

    • speed detectors
    • breath analysers
    • Depth gauges for liquids for tax purposes

  • Sound level meters
  • Heat meters and cold meters (for thermic energy)
  • Measuring instruments for radiation protection

Instruments on that list, not harmonised by European directives, are generally subject to type approval, initial verification and mandatory reverification.


National Type Approval and Initial Verification

Type approval responsibility rests with the PTB. It has comprehensive testing facilities but may incorporate other testing laboratories, normally state verification offices and state approved testing centres, to perform routine type examination measurements. PTB publishes a detailed list of type approval facilities for potential submitters. Type approvals are in German although official translations may be provided on request. They are published in the data base MICert and are open in detail for the European Market Surveillance Authorities on request:


Fees are calculated on the basis of man hours and material costs for any individual type approval. The framework for fees calculation is provided by legal ordinance.

The 67 local verification offices perform initial verifications. Gas, electricity, water and heat meters are verified by the state approved test centres, if not put into use by manufacturer via declaration of conformity (MID and NAWID).
Verification fees are set by ordinance and details are available from „Bundesanzeiger Verlagsgesellschaft mbH“:


Inspection and Reverification

A mandatory reverification system is operated by legal offices. A fee being charged on each reverification occasion. The period for reverification is 2 years unless specified in the verification ordinance. Examples are

Weights for use in trade

4 years

Weighing instruments in trade use

2 years

Fuel dispenser

2 years

LPG meter

1 year

Cold water meters

6 years

Gas meters

8 years

Active energy meters: electromechanical./electronically

16/8 years

Breath analysers

6 month

The maximum permissible error (mpe) for initial and reverification is the same. Generally the mpe´s for measures in use are the double as for verification. Exceptions are specified in the instrument specific annexes of the verification ordinance, e. g. for fuel dispensers and exhaust gas analysers the mpe is equal to the mpe of first verification or the mpe of MID.

Service companies (repairers) are not permitted to reverify instruments although there is 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 reverification. Authorisation is given by the local verification offices and a 'repair mark' (Instandsetzerkennzeichen) is identified for use by the service technician. Immediate notice must be given to the verification office in order that instruments may be used until reverification.


Legal Metrology Practitioners and Scope

The PTB employs more than 50 scientists and engineers for type approval/examination work. All have a degree background. Ongoing training is conducted.

In the state and local verification offices there are 580 engineers and technicians and 650 masters (master craftsmen). The engineers have a degree qualification and the masters all possess a Master Craftsman Certificate. The staff of the State Verification Authorities and the local Verification Offices all need to have passed an examination set by the Deutsche Akademie fuer Metrologie, a state institution. Engineers undergo 6 months supervisory training and masters 3 months. This system of two types of metrological officials is maintained throughout the state and local offices. Further training is regulated in the federal states.

Additionally the state approved test centres in the private sector, performing verification work, employ about 50 scientists, 450 engineers and 180 technicians. These will be supervised and examined for competence by the State Verification Authorities.
About 50 engineers of the Verification Offices are trained in quality assurance systems management. These will have attended a training seminar and several instruction sessions. Assessors experience is maintained in supervision and audit of accredited laboratories.

The officials of supervising and local verification authorities are not generally engaged in providing any consumer protection service other than that relating to legal metrology. They will advise businesses on legal requirements and will investigate consumer complaints about inaccurate equipment. Additionally officials are responsible for performing reference tests in relation to average quantity prepackaged goods. These tests are conducted in accordance with frequency periods set by law and generally each line is expected to be tested at least once a year. Officials will visit packers unannounced. A fee is charged for the task, the amount depending upon the number of packages and lines tested, and the time spent on site.



Sanctions are based upon a system of administrative penalties. A preventative enforcement policy is applied resulting in penalties normally only being applied in cases where fraud is evident. The verification officials will issue warnings for minor infringements and this may be added to by a financial penalty imposed by him, amounts being set by law, e.g.:

Use of a non-verified instrument up to 300 kg (twice the amount if the offence is repeated)

250 €

Use of a non-verified taximeter

125 €

Use of an instrument which has been ECU altered without approval (instrument may be seized)

5000 €

Deficient prepackages. The penalty may be estimated based on excess profit resulting from the deficient product value.


The verification official would issue a penalty document to the trader confirming the amount of fine. In the event of dispute, the matter would be referred to a court of law but such occasions are very rare. Administrative penalty details are not published for public consumption. Upper limit of penalties in more serious cases, is up to 10,000 €.

Latest figures show that some 5000 administrative fines are imposed annually. 100 cases result in court adjudication. Total administrative fines amounted to approximately 500,000 €. Court penalties totalled 50,000 €.


Directives under the scope of 2009/34/EC (former 71/316/EEC)

The still existing EEC Directives without 71/349/EEC (Calibration of the tank of vessels) are transposed onto the German verification law. Regulated measuring instruments with technical realisations not covered by the EEC directive, e. g. electronic instruments or instruments with larger range of application can get a national type approval certificate and initial verification on the basis of the mpe of the EEC Directive. For the EEC Directives repealed by article 22 of the MID the transitional provisions of article 23 are adopted.


Directive 2009/23/EC (former 90/384/EEC)

All Article 1(2) a) instruments were subject to existing national controls.

So far as gravity values are concerned Germany is divided into 4 zones for Class II 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.

Instrument classes are designated for particularly applications:

Pharmaceutical and medical sector, laboratories

Class I

Pharmacy and precious metal trading

Class II

Commercial transactions

Class III

Ballast, sand, gravel, axle weighers, baby weighers

Class IIII


Directive 2004/22/EC (MID)

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


Updated May 2012