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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a standard and a regulation?

A standard is a document, established by consensus, that provides rules, guidelines or charachteristics for activities or their results. A regulation is a set of rules that have been adopted by an authority having jurisdiction and are thereby enforceable by law.

What are international standards?

An international standard is one that has been developed with open, impartial and transparent procedures that afford an opportunity for consensus among all interested parties. For more information, visit the International Standards Policy page.

What is the OSIP Standards Team?

The International Trade Administration (ITA) Office of Standards and Investment Policy (OSIP) Standards Team coordinates standards activities through the International Trade Administration, with other governmental agencies, and with private sector stakeholders.

What is Notify U.S.?

"Notify U.S." is a free, web-based information service designed to disseminate World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO TBT) notifications. It features e-mail notifications of changes to domestic and foreign technical regulations for industrial products (including product packaging, marking and labeling) and offers complete texts of proposed regulations for review and comment.

Click Here to subscribe to Notify U.S.

Where can I find market research information for my company?

The U.S. Commercial Service Market Research Library contains more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, web sites, events, and trade directory listings. ( registration required). Included Reports: Country Commercial Guides, Industry Sector Analyses, Marketing Insights, Multilateral Development Bank Reports, Best Markets, and other Industry/Regional Reports.

Where can I find standards-related information on my country of interest?

Enter the U.S. Commercial Service Market Research Library. Enter your country of interest in the "country" field, and enter "Country Commercial Guide (CCG)" in the "Report Type" field. Information on standards and trade regulations is included in Chapter 5 of the Country Commercial Guide!

What is the National Center for Standards and Certification Information (NCSCI)?

The National Center for Standards and Certification Information provides research services on standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures for non-agricultural products. The Center is a central repository for standards-related information in the United States and has access to U.S., foreign and international documents and contact points through its role as the U.S. national inquiry point under the World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. The Program maintains a database on NIST and Department of Commerce staff participation in standards developing activities.

What assistance and resources are available to help export my company's products? provides online trade resources and one-on-one assistance for your international business – whether you’re just starting or expanding your global sales.

The Trade Information Center (TIC) is a comprehensive resource for information on all U.S. Federal Government export assistance programs. The Center is operated by the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the 20 federal agencies comprising the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC). These agencies are responsible for managing the U.S. Government's export promotion programs and activities.

What should I do if I encounter a trade barrier?

The Trade Compliance Center (TCC) helps American exporters overcome foreign trade barriers and works to ensure that foreign countries comply with their commitments to the United States.

What is the National Institute of Standards and Technology?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers a collection of reports on the U.S. and foreign standards and conformity assessment systems. These reports can be downloaded at no cost.

Click Here to access the NIST library of standards publications

What is the National Trade Estimate?

The National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE) surveys significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports. The annual report provides, where feasible, quantitative estimates of the impact of these foreign practices on the value of U.S. exports. Information is also included on actions taken to eliminate barriers.

Click here to access the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative's Reports and Publications page containing the National Trade Estimate report.

How can I monitor the federal rulemaking process? is the U.S. Government web site that makes it easier for you to participate in Federal rulemaking - an essential part of the American democratic process.

On this site, you can find, review, and submit comments on Federal documents that are open for comment and published in the Federal Register, the Government’s legal newspaper. As a member of the public, you can submit comments about these regulations, and have the Government take your views into account.

How can I find out if a voluntary standard has been referenced by a regulatory authority?

Standards.Gov offers background materials, useful links, and search tools for locating information about the use of standards in government. The primary focus is on Federal agency use of standards for regulatory and procurement purposes.

More Information on the U.S. Standards System

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) publishes an Overview of the U.S. Standardization System and other international policy papers on standards.

Click Here to visit ANSI's website.