WHERE LOCAL BUSINESS GROWS

Weights and Measures

If you sell packaged or loose goods in the UK or abroad you must follow rules about measurements, quantities and labelling. Read more here and find out about the records you need to keep.


You must use metric measurements (grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres) when selling packaged or loose goods in England, Scotland or Wales. There are different rules in Northern Ireland. The only products you can sell in imperial measures are:

  • draught beer or cider by pint
  • milk in returnable containers by pint
  • precious metals by troy ounce
You can display an imperial measurement alongside the metric measurement but it can’t stand out more than the metric measurement.

Some goods must be sold in fixed sizes known as ‘specified quantities’.

Alcohol
There are different rules depending on whether you’re selling by the glass or bottle. By the glass:

Type

Measures
           
Still wine 125ml, 175ml, multiples of 125ml and 175ml
Fortified wine eg port or sherry 50ml, 70ml, multiples of 50ml or 70ml
Gin, rum, vodka and whisky Either 25ml and multiples of 25ml, or 35ml and multiples of 35ml (not both on the same premises)
Draught beer and cider
           
Third, half, two-thirds of a pint and multiples of half a pint
There are no specified quantities for sparkling wine or yellow wine by the glass or spirits other than gin, rum, vodka and whisky.

Packaged - eg by the bottle or box
Type Volume by millilitre (ml)
Still wine 100, 187, 250, 375, 500, 750, 1000, 1500
Yellow wine 620
Sparkling wine 125, 200, 375, 750, 1500
Fortified wine 100, 200, 375, 500, 750, 1000, 1500
Gin, rum, vodka and whisky 100, 200, 350, 500, 700, 1000, 1500            

You can sell packaged alcohol in any volume if it’s below the minimum or above the maximum allowed for specified quantities.

Type Minimum (ml) Maximum (ml)
Still wine 100 1500
Yellow wine 100 1500
Sparkling wine 125 1500
Fortified wine 100 1500
Gin, rum vodka and whisky 100 2000

There are no specified quantities for packaged beer or cider or spirits other than gin, rum, vodka and whisky.

Knitting Yarn
You can only sell knitting yarn, eg wool, in quantities of:
  • 25g
  • 50g
  • multiples of 50g up to 500g
  • 1kg

Solid Fuel
You can sell sealed bags of solid fuel in any size you wish but if you’re selling it loose, you can only sell it in quantities of:
  • 25kg
  • 50kg
  • multiples of 50kg

Packaged goods are products that are all of these:

  • sold sealed
  • between 5g and 25kg or 5ml and 25 litres
  • the same weight or volume as other products of the same type
There are 2 ways to pack your products.

Minimum System
You can pack your products so that they contain at least the quantity displayed on the label. The packages can contain more than the label says, but not less.

Average System
You can pack your products to an average measurement that is on the label. You must check your packages to make sure a random sample is packed to meet all these rules - known as the ‘three packers’ rules’:
  • the contents of the packages must not be less, on average, than the weight on the label
  • only a small number can fall below a certain margin of error, known as the ‘tolerable negative error’ (TNE)
  • no package can be underweight by more than twice the TNE
Quantity in grams and millilitres TNE as % of quantity TNE in grams or millilitres
5 to 50 9 n/a
50 to 100 n/a 4.5
100 to 200 4.5 n/a
200 to 300 n/a 9
300 to 500 3 n/a
500 to 1,000 n/a 15
1,000 to 10,000 1.5 n/a
10,000 to 15,000 n/a 150
more than 15,000 1< n/a            

If you’re calculating the TNE as a percentage of the quantity, you must round up the weight or volume to the nearest 0.10 of a gram or millilitre. Contact your local Trading Standards office for help with packing to the average system. Read the ‘Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) 2006’ guidance for business for more information. You must make sure packaged goods you’re producing or importing are packed and labelled correctly. You can be fined or sent to prison if you break the rules.

Equipment for packaged goods

The equipment you use to weigh or measure your packaged goods has to be suitable. There are no hard and fast rules about what equipment you should use but you can’t use domestic scales to weigh goods you intend to sell.

Your local Trading Standards office will tell you what is suitable equipment for your business sector. Trading Standards will check the weights and measures of your goods on your production line to make sure the equipment is accurate.

Records

You must keep records if you pack your products using the average system. You must record the results of your sample batches and show that they meet the ‘three packers’ rules.

You don’t have to keep records if you measure every package or you use the minimum system to pack your products.

You must keep your records for at least one year from either the date you ship the packages or the ‘use by’ date on the package - whichever is shorter.

Your local Trading Standards office can advise you about how to keep records.

You must put the weight or volume of your packaged goods on the label. The quantity marking must be:

You can display an imperial measurement alongside the metric measurement but it can’t stand out more than the metric measurement.

Using the ℮ Mark
You won’t have to meet the weights and measures rules of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries you’re exporting to if you put the ℮ mark on your packages. You can use the ℮ mark if:
  • you pack your goods using the average system
  • your packages are between 5g and 10kg or 5ml and 10 litres
If you pack your goods using the minimum system, you can still use the ℮ mark but you’ll have to meet the ‘three packers’ rules of the average system and keep records for the goods you export. You must put the ℮ mark on the same part of the packaging as the quantity. You can choose to meet the rules of the country you’re exporting to instead of using the ℮ mark.

Exporting to Non-EEA Countries
You must meet the rules for packaged goods in the country you’re exporting to if you’re exporting outside the EEA. You can use the ℮ mark but the country you’re exporting to may still do its own weights and measures checks on your packages.

There are separate rules for labelling packaged food goods.

The equipment that is regulated in the UK is as follows:

  • approved verification
  • automatic catchweighing instruments
  • automatic gravimetric filling instruments
  • automatic rail-weighbridges
  • beltweighers
  • capacity measures and testing equipment
  • cold water meters
  • discontinuous totalisers
  • intoxicating liquor
  • liquid fuel & lubricants
  • measures of length
  • Measuring Instrument Directive (MID) guidance on flow measuring instruments
  • non-automatic weighing instruments
  • non-prescribed instruments
  • road tankers
  • guidance on standard temperature accounting
Transactions by weight or measure In the UK most transactions in goods by weight or measure are regulated by the Weights and Measures Act 1985 or through secondary legislation, including the Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/659).

Queries about Weights and Measures

If you are a business and would like advice on compliance please contact your local Trading Standards service.

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