Trade Approved scales: What they are and why you should be using them

For many applications, using a Trade Approved scale is a legal requirement.

For many businesses that use weighing scales, however, what a Trade Approved scale is is a bit of a mystery.

In this blog post, we explain what a Trade Approved scale is, why it’s different to a standard weighing scale that’s not Trade Approved, and the applications when a Trade Approved scale must be used.


Protecting the customer

Trade Approved scales are subject to more testing than non-approved scales, to ensure accuracy and reliability in weighing.

The non-automatic weighing instruments directive (NAWI) was specifically put in place to protect the public against inaccurate weighing results. It is the directive behind what makes a scale Trade Approved.

Legally too, Trade Approved scales must be used in certain industrial situations.

What is a Trade Approved scale?

Trade Approved scales: What they are and why you should be using them

Trade Approved scales may be referred to as verified scales, legal for trade scales and stamped scales. On the scale’s dataplate (example above), an ‘M’ logo can be seen, which stands for metrology.

The weighing scale will be tested against standards set by the organisation that overseas requirements in your location or industry.

Weights & Measures legislation has required the use of approved scales for over one hundred years. The legislation is in place to protect the customer as well as the seller.

Trade Approved scales are most associated when pricing an item based on weight. The amount of testing required to ensure a scale is approved, should also mean there is no discrepancy between weight readings - two different scales weighing the same item should give the same weight.

Class III Approved scales also apply in a medical context. Class III scales are strongly recommended when calculating prescriptions or monitoring health signs, and specific accuracies of scale need to be used for certain medical tasks.


When must a scale be Trade Approved?

The NAWI Directive defines six applications that require the use of a Trade Approved weighing scale:

  1. Determination of mass for commercial transactions.
  2. Determination of mass for the calculation of a toll, tariff, tax, bonus, penalty, remuneration, indemnity or similar type of payment.
  3. Determination of mass for the application of laws or regulations; expert opinion given in court proceedings.
  4. Determination of mass in the practice of medicine for weighing patients for the purposes of monitoring, diagnosis and medical treatment.
  5. Determination of mass for making up medicines on prescription in a pharmacy and determination of mass in analyses carried out in medical and pharmaceutical laboratories.
  6. Determination of price on the basis of mass for the purposes of direct sales to the public and the making-up of pre-packages.  


What are typical uses for a Trade Approved scale?

Trade Approved scales: What they are and why you should be using them

Trade Approved scales should be used, for example, in the following environments:

Shop scales: when weighing fruit and vegetables in a grocery store and using the weight reading to determine the price. An example is the DS-781SS Retail Scale used by Macsorsons Fishmongers, left.

Bottling processes: if the bottle specifically states the volume of the bottle and the price is based on this volume.

Weighing containers for loading onto a ship: as part of the SOLAS container weight regulations which require a verified proof of weight.

Business to business sales: If the business buys and sells a good based on its weight - such as a scrap metal dealer buying metals based on weight - Trade Approved scales are required. Other examples include recycling and waste management businesses (like Global Recycling, left, who use a P-DI-620P-APP Platform Scale to weigh confidential waste).

Industries where Trade Approved scales are suitable include food, alcohol, firewood or logs, liquid fuel, landscaping materials, precious metals and mechanical parts.

Trade Approved scales: What they are and why you should be using them


Who approves a Trade Approved scale?

The UK Weighing Federation’s Ian Turner told Marsden: “Accredited laboratories, known as Notified Bodies, carry out all of the tests that the scale is subject to when undergoing approval. They will be based in a range of European countries and will all be accredited to the same international standards to ensure that there is a consistency of results.

“Once the design of the scale is approved, and it has been put into production, an approved verifier must then check each one before it can be used for any of the six applications listed above.

“These tests will cover both the accuracy and the repeatability (providing consistently accurate weight readings) of the instruments. All of these detailed checks ensure that both consumers and traders can be assured that the basis of their transaction is fair and just.”


How do we make sure our scales are Trade Approved?

Making a scale Trade Approved can be a complicated process to ensure the scale has this level of accuracy and reliability. But with the help of Marsden technical support, we’ve created a simplified explanation of the process below.

It begins with a process known as ‘compatibility in module’ where the loadcells are tested against the indicator.

“We’ll know in advance whether a scale is Approved, as approval documents are provided - parts such as the loadcells will come with Trade Approved status,” said Marsden’s Steve Rayner.

The scale is then put together by the highly-skilled Marsden team, recalibrated and verified.

“Ensuring the scale is weighing accurately enough comes as part of the verification and reverification process,” said Steve. “The scale will have to meet certain tolerances and these are very tight.”

Approved weights are put on the scale to a tenth of a division. This means that if a scale has graduations to the nearest 100g, Marsden puts on weights of 10g at a time, and ensures the scale clicks over at the point the tenth weight is added. First this is done in the centre of the scale, but then the corners of the scale are subject to the same process.

(Below: EC Type-Approval certificate, which states the manufacturer's name, that the scale is Class III Approved, the capabilities of scale and other information)

Trade Approved scales: What they are and why you should be using them

What should be done if you need Trade Approved scales?

Many businesses, if they are not aware already that they need to use Trade Approved scales find out during a visit from Trading Standards (or the equivalent bodes outside of the UK). Typically, when Trading Standards identify an unsuitable scale being used for a Trade Approved application, they give the business a set number of days to replace the scale.

It is then that customers will usually contact Marsden for advice and to place an order. Almost every Marsden product is available with next day delivery, meaning the downtime the business will experience is minimal.


But how do you know which Trade Approved scale is the right one for your application?

Different Trade Approved scales are suitable for different needs. For example, if you are bulk weighing items for pricing then a platform scale may be more suitable - such as the P-I-100-APP.

If space is limited in a warehouse or factory environment, then a Trade Approved pit mounted scale is ideal as it sits flush to the factory floor.

For weighing small items, which require a fine graduations, then choose a bench scale like the Jadever JWN.

Marsden’s range of Trade Approved scales can be found here.

For more information about any of our scales, call 01709 364296 or contact us here.

5 thoughts on “Trade Approved scales: What they are and why you should be using them”

  • L J M

    Hi. I am looking for a trade approved scale for weighing ingredients for my cosmetics business. What would be the cheapest option for me please?
    Thanks so much.

    • Marsden

      Thank you for your interest in our Trade Approved scales. Our cheapest Trade Approved Bench Scale is the Marsden B-400 Trade Approved Bench Scale, which is accurate to the nearest gram. However, if you'd like to discuss Trade Approved options with a member of our team to find the best Trade Approved scale for your need, please contact us on +44 (0) 1709 364296.

      Kind Regards,

  • Sam Martin

    Hi there. We require a trade approved weighing scale for our retail store to sell pick n mix sweets. What would be the cheapest trade approved scale you have with the correct markings on it? Thank you

    • Marsden

      Hi Sam, thank you for your message. The most suitable scale in our range for your needs would be the Digi DS-781, which you can see here:

      Let us know if you need any help or further information!

      Kindest regards


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    thanks for the information and advice

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