What ‘Legal for Trade’ Scales Are and Why You May Need Them

legal for trade scale
legal for trade scales


If you sell products commercially based on its weight, it is required by law that the scales used are ‘legal for trade’. Legal for trade scales will have an NTEP certification of conformance. If a scale has this certification it means that the scale is capable of meeting NIST Handbook 44 requirements. Once a legal for trade scale is purchased it needs to be reported to the applicable county. The county will then seal it and the scale can legally be used.

What are the Applications for Legal-for-Trade Scales?

Some examples of applications where NTEP approved scales can be used are:

  • Determining mass for commercial transactions
  • Determining mass for the calculation of tariff, toll, penalty, tax, or bonus
  • Determining price based on mass for making-up pre-packages or for direct sales to the public
  • Determining mass in analyses carried out in medical and pharmaceutical laboratories and pharmacies.

Acquiring and Owning a Legal-for-Trade Scale

When looking to purchase a legal for trade scale it is important to look at three things.

  • The scale’s capacity.
  • Size of the division*
  • precision of the scale. The scales must comply with Accuracy Class I & II parameters.

* No matter the capacity, a legal for trade scale must have 5000 divisions. For example, a 5000lb capacity scale with 5000 divisions would count in 1lb graduations.

It is also important to know where you plan to place the scale. A scale needs a solid, level surface so information on placement location helps the installation process. If a scale is moved to a different location, the scale’s calibration should be checked so a report can be sent to the county stating that the scale is within tolerance.

If you have a legal for trade scale it is important to have the scale periodically checked for accuracy. Depending on how inaccurate a scale is, upon county inspection, the scale could be tagged and taken out of service. In the event of this, the scale must be repaired or recalibrated within a certain period of time. Once the scale is back intolerance a report will be sent to the county and the scale can be used again. Because of situations like this, it is important to have a reliable scale company that will get your scale back in service to avoid the scale being down for a long period of time.

For more information regarding your weighing needs, contact Quality Scales Unlimited.

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