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BSI Group
Type Non-profit distributing incorporated body operating under Royal Charter
Founded 1901
Headquarters London, UK
Products standards and standards related services
Revenue £202.3m (2008)[1]
Employees 2,445 (2008)

BSI Group, also known in its home market as the British Standards Institution (or BSI) is a multinational business services provider whose principal activity is the production of standards and the supply of standards-related services.



The BSI Group head office building in Chiswick, London

BSI Group was founded as the Engineering Standards Committee in London in 1901[2]. It subsequently extended its standardization work and became the British Engineering Standards Association in 1918, adopting the name British Standards Institution in 1931 after receiving its Royal Charter in 1929. In 1998 a revision of the Charter enabled the organization to diversify and acquire other businesses, and the trading name was changed to BSI Group.

The Group now operates internationally with over 50 offices in more than 25 countries[3]. The core business remains standards and standards related services, although the majority of the Group’s revenue now comes from management systems assessment work[4].


A standard is a published document that contains a technical specification or other precise criteria designed to be used consistently as a rule, guideline, or definition. All standards take the form of either: specifications, methods, vocabularies, codes of practice or guides.

All formal standards are developed with a period of public enquiry and full consultation. They incorporate the views and expertise of a very wide range of interests from consumers, academia, special interest groups, government, business and industry. As a result, standards represent a consensus on current best practice.

Standards are designed for voluntary use and do not impose any regulations. However, laws and regulations may refer to certain standards and make compliance with them compulsory. For example, the physical characteristics and format of credit cards is set out in standard number BS EN ISO/IEC 7810:1996. Adhering to this standard means that the cards can be used worldwide.

As the UK’s National Standards Body, BSI is responsible for producing and publishing British Standards and for representing UK interests in international and European standards organizations such as ISO, IEC, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI.Formal British Standards are titled BS (for British Standard) XXXX[-P]:YYYY where XXXX is the number of the standard, P is the number of the part of the standard (where the standard is split into multiple parts) and YYYY is the year of publication.

BSI produces standards on everything from nuts and bolts to sustainability, risk, business continuity management and nanotechnology.



BSI produces British Standards, and, as the UK’s National Standards Body, is also responsible for the UK publication, in English, of international and European standards. BSI is obliged to adopt and publish all European Standards as identical British Standards (prefixed BS EN) and to withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict[5]. However, it has the option to adopt and publish international standards (prefixed BS ISO or BS IEC).

In response to commercial demands, BSI also produces commissioned standards products such as Publicly Available Specifications, (PASs), Private Standards and Business Information Publications. These products are commissioned by individual organizations and trade associations to meet their needs for standardized specifications, guidelines, codes of practice etc. Because they are not subject to the same consultation and consensus requirements as formal standards, the lead time is much shorter.

BSI also publishes standards-related books, CD-ROMs, subscription products and web-based solutions as well as providing training on standards-related issues.

Management Systems

BSI Group is the world’s largest certification body. It audits and provides certification to companies worldwide who implement management systems standards. BSI also provides a range of training courses regarding implementation and auditing to the requirements of national and international management systems standards.

It is independently accredited[6] and delivers assessments for a wide range of standards and other specifications including:

  • ISO 9001 (Quality),
  • ISO 14001 (Environment),
  • BS OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety),
  • ISO/IEC 27001 (previously BS 7799 for Information Security),
  • ISO/IEC 20000 (previously BS 15000 for IT Service Management);
  • PAS 99 (Integrated Management),
  • BS 25999 (Business Continuity),
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Verification,
  • SA8000 (Social Accountability) and
  • Food Safety standards and specifications, including ISO 22000.

BSI certifies approximately 60,000 locations in over 124[7]. countries and operates across the UK, CEMEA, Asia Pacific (including Japan and China) and the Americas.

Subsequent to an acquisition in 2006, BSI also offers a web-based integrated management system software service called Entropy Software[8], which specializes in helping large organizations manage risk and compliance issues.

BSI Group also offers a range of training services on how businesses can implement and audit management systems effectively.

Testing and certification

BSI Kitemark certification symbol

Within certification, BSI's best known product in the UK is the Kitemark, a registered certification mark first used in 1903[2]. The Kitemark – which is recognized by 82% of UK adults[9] – signifies products or services which have been assessed and tested as meeting the requirements of the related specification or standard within a Kitemark scheme.

BSI also conducts testing of products for a wide range of certifications, including for CE marking. CE marking must be applied to a wide range of products intended for sale in the European Economic Area. Frequently manufacturers or importers need a third-party certification of their product from an accredited or ‘Notified’ body. BSI holds Notified Body status for 17 EU Directives[10], including medical devices, construction products, marine equipment, pressurized equipment and personal protective equipment.

BSI also conducts testing for manufacturers developing new products and has facilities to test across a wide range of sectors, including construction, fire safety, electrical and electronic, engineering products and medical devices.


  • BSI is the world’s first national standards body[11].
  • BSI created one of the world’s first and most enduring quality marks in 1903, when the letters ‘B’ and ‘S’ (for British Standard) were combined to produce the Kitemark logo.
  • BSI was instrumental in the formation of ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, in 1947 and of its European equivalent, CEN, in 1964.
  • BSI pioneered the development of management systems standards: the first of which was BS 5750, the original quality management systems standard which formed the template for the ISO 9000 series of quality standards, first published in 1994.
  • BSI published the world’s first environmental management standard, BS 7750, in 1992. This led to the publication of the first international environmental management standard, ISO 14001, in 1996. BSI also published the world’s first sustainability standard, BS 8900, in 2006.
  • BSI's management systems operation in the UK has been carbon neutral since 2006[12]. BSI reduced staff’s business travel by 200,000 miles per annum, and invested in carbon offsetting in the UK and Bulgaria.
  • BSI has been nominated a Business Superbrand in the UK for five years in a row[13].


Starting in 1998, BSI Group has adopted an aggressive policy of international growth through acquisition as follows[14]:

  • 1998 – CEEM, USA and International Standards Certification Pte Ltd, Singapore
  • 2002 – KPMG’s certification business in North America
  • 2003 – BSI Pacific Ltd, Hong Kong
  • 2004 – KPMG’s certification business in the Netherlands
  • 2006 – Nis Zert, Germany; Entropy International Ltd, Canada & UK; Benchmark Certification Pty Ltd, Australia; ASI-QS, UK

See also

Notes and references

External links


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