Formerly called the Indian Standards Institute, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is an establishment promoting quality of goods and services and offering certification. Set up on April 1, 1987 courtesy a parliament act dated November 26, 1986, and taking over the responsibilities, assets and liabilities of Indian Standards Institution (ISI), BIS is concerned with product certification and hallmarking, registration scheme, foreign manufacturers scheme, and a host of other similar functions.

BIS has standards formulated for many different sectors such as civil engineering, chemicals, information technology and electronics, mechanical engineering, food and agriculture, metallurgical engineering, management and systems, transport engineering, water resources, and textile, to name a few. Every sector has its own division council for overseeing and supervising its work. Thanks to its efforts, the economy has benefited in several ways: offering reliable, quality, safe goods; decreasing consumer health hazards; promoting substitutes for imports and exports; and controlling proliferation of varieties.

Product Certification and Licenses

BIS certification scheme for products entails more than 26500 licenses (as of July 2016) covering 900 products and more, ranging from electronics to food products. BIS has formulated more than 19000 standards in diverse technology fields, with its 650 and more technical committees and 14 division councils, helping various industries upgrade their goods and service quality. BIS lets its licensees use the ISI sign on their products – a mark synonymous with quality offerings. BIS also offers license to foreign manufacturers for using the BIS quality mark. Precious metals such as gold, silver, palladium, platinum, etc. are certified with a hallmark.

Basically, BIS certification scheme is voluntary in nature; however, its stamp is compulsory for 68 items, made possible through different statutory measures. The items requiring mandatory certification, on grounds of safety and health, are packaged drinking water, milk powder, oil pressure stoves, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders, clinical thermometers, etc.

Offices and Staff

Headquartered in New Delhi, India, BIS has five regional offices: Chennai (South), Mumbai (West), Kolkata (East), Chandigarh (North) and Delhi (Central). These regional offices have branch offices located at Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Dehradun, Coimbatore, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Jaipur, Nagpur, Lucknow, Pune, Patna, Parwanoo, Durgapur, Raipur, Vishakhapatnam, and Jamshedpur. These centers provide certification services and help link governments, consumer organizations, industries, technical centers, etc. of respective regions.

BIS has in excess of 500 qualified scientific and technical personnel, with approximately 25000 experts having associated with the establishment’s standardization activities voluntarily. To support product certification activities, BIS owns a chain comprising eight laboratories, which have established testing centers for goods relating to food, chemical, mechanical and electrical disciplines. Close to 25000 samples get tested in these laboratories each year. If BIS-owned laboratories aren’t equipped enough to test samples, external approved laboratory services are availed.

Standard Creation and Revision

A new standard proposal or a request for revising an existing standard can be submitted in writing by central or state government ministries, union territory administrations, industrial units, consumer organizations, professional bodies, industry associations, BIS members and its technical committees’ members. The process of formulating standards is taken care of by specific division councils. If the standard proposal has been approved and a new standard established, the concerned division council would assign the standard formulation task to the right technical committee or have a new committee set up for the purpose. In case the new standard proposal is not approved, the decision is communicated to the proposer.

The new standard draft is prepared and circulated widely for not more than a month among several concerned bodies for their improvement suggestions and critical review. However, if the need to establish the new standard is urgent and sans any controversy, the wide circulation could be skipped. Generally, special attention is provided to proposals relating to environmental protection, energy conservation, rural safety and development.

Standards already established are reviewed once every five years, to ascertain the need for withdrawal or revision. The standards requiring no amendment or revision are reaffirmed. Such amendments and implementation of fresh standards, and interacting with service operators and industrial houses has become imperative, thanks to globalization and increasing consumer thirst for quality.