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Weights and Measures in the United States



Carol T. Hockert


What does the weights and measures system in the United States look like, and what impact does it have on commerce? Every state in the United States has its own weights and measures program, and many states have county and city run programs within their own jurisdiction. More importantly, each of these programs has sovereignty within their jurisdiction. There are over 650 independent regulatory jurisdictions in the United States. How then, can laws and regulations be applied uniformly? How can U.S. commerce be assured of accurate measurement and consistent application? NCWM was created by NIST in 1905 to bring together stakeholders in the weights and measures system in areas such as enforcement, manufacturing, and industry, in order to establish and modify laws governing weights and measures. Once adopted through this standards development process, the model laws and regulations are published and disseminated by NIST, though adopted and enforced by the representative jurisdictions. The basis for a weights and measures program must start with accurate measurements. In addition to publishing and disseminating model laws and procedures, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Weights and Measures Division (NIST/WMD) provides training and support to state, county and industry metrology laboratories and weights and measures field officials to ensure traceability of measurements in commerce. This paper discusses the make up of the weights and measures system in the United States, how numerous separate weights and measures system in the United States, how numerous separate weights and measures programs are able to provide uniformity, and what impact these entities have on our commerce.
Proceedings Title
NCSLI Meeting
Conference Title
NCSL International Annual Workshop and Symposium


federal agencies, handbooks, industry, legal metrology, metric program, state


Hockert, C. (2006), Weights and Measures in the United States, NCSLI Meeting, -1, [online], (Accessed July 19, 2024)


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Created April 11, 2006, Updated February 19, 2017