A brief introduction to standards

Who is DIN?

DIN, the German Institute for Standardization, is the independent platform for standardization in Germany and worldwide. As a partner for industry, research and society as a whole, DIN plays a major role in helping innovations to reach the market in areas such as the digital economy or society, often within the framework of research projects. 

More than 36,500 experts from industry, research, consumer protection and the public sector bring their expertise to work on standardization projects managed by DIN. The result of these efforts are market-oriented standards and specifications that promote global trade, and encourage rationalization, quality assurance, and the protection of society and the environment, as well as improving security and communication.

DIN was founded in 1917 and celebrated its 100 year anniversary in 2017.

What is a standard?

A standard is a document that specifies requirements for products, services and/or processes. This helps ensure the free movement of goods and encourages exports. Standardization supports efficiency and quality assurance in industry, technology, science and the public sector. It serves to safeguard people and property and to improve quality in all areas of life. Studies show that standards generate economic benefits estimated at about € 17 billion a year

One of the most well-known standards is that on the A-series of paper sizes: DIN EN ISO 216.  Everyone knows the A4 paper size. But did you know that this internationally recognized standard was first published as a German Standard, DIN 476, as early as 1922?

At present there are 33,500 documents in the German Standards collection. These are published by DIN’s subsidiary DIN Media. From taper pins to pacifiers, stairs to nails, ladders to toothbrushes - almost everything in our daily lives are covered by standards.

Visit our interactive exhibit for more examples of what gets standardized.

How are DIN Standards developed?

Standards are developed by those who have a need and an interest in using them. The broad participation of all stakeholders, a transparent development process and the consensus principle ensure the wide acceptance of DIN Standards. Anyone can submit a proposal for a new standard. All those interested in a specific standards topic can participate and contribute their expertise. Before a standard is officially adopted, a draft version is published so that the public can make comments. Experts working on a standard must come to agreement on its content. To ensure they reflect the state of the art, standards are regularly reviewed by experts at least every five years.

Is the use of standards mandatory?

No. Anyone can use DIN Standards, and their use is voluntary. They only become mandatory if they are referred to in contracts, laws or regulations. Of course, they do not allow free rein when it comes to liability. But as generally accepted rules of technology, standards make it easier to demonstrate that one has followed best practices.

What is a DIN Specification?

A DIN Specification, or DIN SPEC, is also a document that specifies requirements for products, services and/or processes.  However, in contrast to standards, DIN SPECs do not require full consensus and the involvement of all stakeholders.  DIN SPECs are a trusted strategic instrument for quickly and easily establishing and disseminating innovative solutions on the market. A DIN SPEC is the fastest way for turning research into a marketable product. Drawn up in small working groups, or "workshops", DIN SPECs can be published within only a few months. These workshops are excellent for exchanging ideas with other market participants. DIN's job is to ensure that a DIN SPEC does not conflict with any existing standards or rules of procedure. With its international contacts, DIN Media sees that DIN SPECs are published and sold to a wide circle of customers. Thanks to the worldwide respect for the DIN "brand", DIN SPECs are effective marketing instruments that are widely accepted by customer and potential partners alike. And any DIN SPEC can be used as a basis for developing a full standard.

And internationally?

DIN represents German interests in international organizations such as CEN, the European standards body, and ISO, the International Standards Organization. Today, roughly 85 % of all national standards projects are European or international in origin. International Standards provide a common language for the technical world, supporting global trade.

How is DIN financed?

DIN is a private organization registered as a non-profit association. Its work is primarily financed through the sales of standards, DIN Media publications and services. Other sources include project funds from industry, public funding and membership fees.

In Germany standardization is a form of self-regulation by industry. By purchasing standards, standards users also ensure the private financing of standards work.

Income structure of DIN 2022

  • Own income: 59.7 %
  • Project funds from industry (private funding): 18.1 %
  • Membership fees 10.0 %
  • Project funds from the state (public funding) 12.1 %