Using the Harmonized List of Standards

Many of you have questions when using the harmonized list of standards for the EU Directives.  Whenever I have a question about any European Harmonized standard, I head to this website:  Here you’ll find all the harmonized lists arranged by subject.

First, what is a harmonized list?  It is a list of all approved standards that can be used to support your product’s compliance with EU legislation.  So if you’re planning on selling your product in Europe, having it meet the requirements of an applicable harmonized standard is one way to support what’s called “the presumption of conformity.”

Browse the homepage for harmonized standards until you find the Directive you’re interested in.  They’ll be listed by their common name, not by the directive number.  Click on the directive and you’ll go directly to its harmonized list page.  You can verify you’ve reached the correct one by checking the directive number in the header material.

The first thing you’ll see is a summary of the documents that comprise the current edition of the directive.  You’ll also get some links to helpful material, like guides for application and EU contacts.  Next is series of links in various languages to the text of the Official Journal publication that officially adopted all the standards in the current listing.  And of course, following this is a 5-column table with a summary of those standards themselves.

Let’s take a look at each column in turn to understand the information in each.  Column 1 is labeled “ESO.”  This is the acronym for European Standards Organization and will tell you which European Standards Body is responsible for the document.  There are 3 choices:  CEN (which is similar to ISO in it’s scope), CENELEC (like IEC), and ETSI (similar to ITU).  CENELEC covers  standards relating to electricity, ETSI to telecommunications, and CEN does everything else.

Column 2 is labeled “Reference and title of the standard (and reference document).”  In this column, you’ll find all the document numbers of standards that have been accepted as harmonized publications by inclusion in the Official Journal.  They are presented as EN numbers, not as any national adoptions.  This means that you are free to choose any of the many country-specific editions you like.  When the standard is an adoption of another publication, like an ISO standard, this is included in parentheses.  Any amending material is also part of the citation if adopted in the Journal.

Column 3 is the “First publication OJ.”  This is the date when the adoption of the standard was first made official by publication in the Official Journal.  Until this happens, an EN standard is not officially considered to be harmonized.

Column 4 is “Reference of superseded standard.”  If this is a first edition of a standard and it does not replace any other standard, the field will be blank.  However, if the document in column 2 is a revision of a previously adopted standard, then you’ll see the previous edition information in this column.  A typical example might be a citation in column 2 of an EN standard plus Amendment 2.  The reference in column 4 would be that same EN standard with the Amendment 1.

And lastly, Column 5 is the confusing “Date of cessation of presumption of conformity of superseded standard.”  Many of you stumble on this date, but with a little explaination it will be clear.  Column 5 is specifically directed to the document in column 4.  The date provided is the last day your product can conform to that superseded edition.  After that day, your products must conform to the document edition specified in column 2.

Using the harmonized lists is an essential part of conforming with European legislation for many products.  Understanding the data the lists provide will make using the harmonized list of standards a rewarding activity.  They can be used to help you implement changes in a timely fashion.  And they can alert you to additional documentation that may be helpful to your organization.

If you still have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.  Our Document Center staff is available to you via phone at 650-591-7600 and email (  We will be able to provide you with a number of options for procuring and using your European standards.  And we can provide you with a variety of tools and services to help you meet your compliance requirements.  Make us your Standards Experts!

Published by

Claudia Bach

Claudia Bach is the President of Document Center Inc. and a world-wide recognized expert on Standards and Standards Distribution. You can connect with her on Google+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *