Technical Articles

Is BS EN and IEC the same?


The field of technical standards is crucial for various industries across the globe. In the electrical engineering domain, two prominent entities play a significant role in creating and maintaining these standards - BS EN (British Standards European Norm) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). While both organizations focus on establishing guidelines and specifications, there are distinct differences between them that need to be understood. This article aims to delve into the nuances of BS EN and IEC, highlighting their similarities and divergences.

BS EN: A Brief

BS EN is an organization responsible for developing and maintaining technical standards within Europe. It aligns with the policies and directives established by the European Union (EU) and operates under the banner of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). BS EN ensures harmonization of standards across different member states, facilitating trade, interoperability, and safety. This allows manufacturers, consumers, and regulators to have confidence in the quality and performance of products manufactured within the EU.

IECInternational Perspective

In contrast, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a global entity that sets forth international standards for electrical and electronic technologies. With members from over 80 countries, including numerous national standards bodies, IEC operates independently of any specific region or political organization. Their mission is to promote safety, efficiency, and compatibility across borders, enabling manufacturers worldwide to design and produce products with high levels of assurance and compatibility.

Key Differences and Collaborations

While BS EN focuses primarily on European markets, it collaborates extensively with IEC to ensure alignment with global standards. This collaboration involves adopting IEC standards as European Norms (EN) and developing additional regional requirements where necessary. This harmonization allows manufacturers within the European Union to comply with both BS EN and IEC standards simultaneously, guaranteeing access to both regional and international markets. However, it is important to note that not all IEC standards are adopted as EN, as some requirements may vary regionally based on specific needs.


In conclusion, although BS EN and IEC serve distinct purposes, they share a common goal of establishing technical standards for the electrical engineering domain. BS EN is dedicated to providing harmonized standards for Europe, while IEC's focus is on creating global standards. The collaboration between these two organizations ensures interoperability, safety, and efficiency in the products manufactured and used worldwide. Understanding their similarities and differences helps businesses and consumers make informed decisions regarding compliance and product development in various regions.



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