Standards in Colombia

A Hot Tip about Industrial Standards in Colombia

Last updated: 10 Mar 2011


Decree 2153 of 1992 defined the Colombian standards regime’s legal framework. Decree 2153 modified the structure of the Superintendent of Industry and Commerce (SIC), and along with Decree 2269 of 1993, created the National Standardization, Certification, and Metrology System (SNNCM). The latter decree designated the Colombian Technical Standards Institute (ICONTEC) as the main standards development organization and SIC as the national accreditation organization.


Colombia further revised its standards regime following its accession to the World Trade Organization (Law 170 of 1994). Colombia joined the Group of Three (G-3) Trade Agreement between Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela (Law 172 of 1994), and enacted Andean Community Decision 376 of 1995, which created the Andean Standardization, Accreditation, Assays, Certification, Technical Regulations, and Metrology System.


Standards Organizations

The Colombian Standards and Certification Institute (ICONTEC) is a private-sector organization created in 1963. Their 1,400 members include government officials and private firms from different industry sectors. The SIC has also accredited ICONTEC for product certification, quality assurance, and environmental systems certification.


ICONTEC’s principal aim is to promote the development of technical standards, quality assurance, and product certification. They are members of the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electro-Technical Commission (IEC). ICONTEC is a founding member of the Pan-American Technical Standards Commission (COPANT) and a member of the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC), the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), and IQNet, an international association of national quality assurance certification entities. ICONTEC is also recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the German Accreditation Association (TGA), the Chilean National Standardization Institute (INN), and the Peruvian standardization institute (INDECOPI).


ICONTEC’s technical standards development committees cover a wide range of issues and topics on metrology, occupational health, air, soil and water quality, solid waste, bar codes, conformity assessment, geographic information, environmental assessments, food and vegetable standards, and construction products, among others. For a complete standards development committee list,

NIST Notify U.S. Service


Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other Member countries. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect your access to international markets.


Conformity Assessment

On November 20, 2007, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and over 90 private entities including product certifiers, product inspectors, and accredited testing, calibration and assay laboratories, enacted the creation of Colombia’s National Accreditation Organization (ONAC) as a public-private organization following the guidelines of the National Quality Policy and with the aim to allow international recognition of the country’s conformity assessment certificates including laboratory testing, and calibration certificates in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011 standards. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of their trade-related capacity building programs has provided the Colombian government with extensive technical support to improve the country’s technical barriers to trade capacity to make the country more transparent and competitive.


Per Decrees 4738 and 3257 of 2008, ONAC accredits and supervises the certification entities, as well as testing and calibration laboratories, a task previously assigned to the SIC, through the Delegated Superintendent for Consumer Protection (SDPC).


Product Certification

Manufacturers and importers of products regulated by official mandatory technical standards or technical regulations need to register themselves in SIC’s Mandatory Registry prior to selling products in Colombia. Products can be tested in accredited laboratories to obtain the certificate of conformity and SIC accepts certificates issued by accredited certification entities, such as members of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) multilateral agreement.


The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism eliminated the mandatory status for the majority of products previously covered. SIC is working with other government agencies to develop technical regulations for products that present threats to health, safety, environment, or national security. Under WTO commitments, Colombia must submit draft technical regulations for comment prior to the new regulation’s entry into force. More information on technical regulations including those under development (awaiting public comment), valid technical regulations, and on Colombian technical standards referenced in regulations


During 2009, CS Bogota continued its standards activities by supporting a technical seminar on standardization of electrical products and electrical installations with speakers from the National Electrical Equipment Association (NEMA), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL). The seminar is part of USDOC’s Market Development Cooperator Program and is aimed at promoting U.S. standards, energy efficiency, environmentally-conscious product design and IPR protection of these products.



By the end of 2009, ONAC had accredited 107 inspection entities, 52 personnel certification entities, one product certification entity, and eight calibration and assay laboratories.


INVIMA is the responsible organization regarding sanitary, medicines, biological products, food, beverage, cosmetics, and medical devices and products related to human health.


Publication of Technical Regulations

MinComercio (Regulations Directorate) is the WTO point of contact for TBT draft technical regulations, and upcoming Colombian notifications on TBT and SPS regulations. This group verifies compliance (and coordinates) with the WTO TBT Agreement, the SPS Agreement, and compliance with conformity assessment procedures. They also maintain the national information system concerning national or foreign technical regulations, among other related matters.


Interested firms can review draft technical regulations and comment on them before the review period expires.


Labeling and Marking

Specific marks or labels are not required for products, except for food, pharmaceutical, and textiles products. Labels on processed food products must indicate: the specific name of the product, ingredients in order of predominance, name and address of manufacturer and importer, number of units, instructions for storage and usage (when required), expiration date, and other instructions as required by the Ministry of Social Protection or the Industry and Commerce Superintendent. Labels and illustrations cannot be inaccurate or misleading.


Labels on pharmaceutical products must indicate in Spanish: "for sale under medical, dental, or veterinary prescription,” with the generic name, commercial name, net weight or volume, weight or quantity of active ingredients, license number, and the lot control number. For those products having limited shelf life, labels should include the date of expiration.


Insecticides and other toxic products should display the skull and crossbones, the word "poison" in Spanish, and information regarding usage and antidotes. Products for which there are no antidotes cannot be licensed and can only be used in programs under the direct control of public health authorities.


The SIC oversees compliance with labeling and marking requirements of all products (imported or produced locally), including displaying the unit of measure using the international system of measurements. ICONTEC has developed several Colombian technical standards on labeling and marking requirements for different products.


In addition, SIC develops metrological controls for measuring instruments to assure its calibration, following recommendations from the International Legal Metrology Organization (OIML). SIC operates a Metrology Laboratory which provides the national standard for the main physical properties (weight, volume, temperature, etc.) serves as reference to the Colombian industry.





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Posted: 05 May 2010, last updated 10 March 2011