About us

National Metrology Institute

Providing the UK's measurement capability


Metrology is the science of measurement. As the UK’s National Metrology Institute (NMI), NPL's mission is to provide the measurement capability that underpins the UK's prosperity and quality of life. 

For more than a century we have developed and maintained the nation’s primary measurement standards. These standards help provide confidence that the goods and services we buy live up to their claims, that the medicines we take are the right dosage, and the data we receive on everything from climate change to financial trading is accurate. Our work also supports international trade and innovation in the commercial world.

Measurement standards are underpinned by the National Measurement System (NMS), an infrastructure that ensures accuracy and consistency of measurement throughout the UK. We also represent the nation when liaising with international standards organisations and NMIs from other countries. As the UK’s NMI, we are able to provide absolute confidence in measurement results and data traceable to SI units. We have over a century of experience meeting the requirements of the international measurement community.

Excellent measurement science

NPL led the review of the UK's national measurement capability in 2017. It looked at the UK's measurement infrastructure and how measurement knowledge can give industry a competitive advantage. The results are published in the UK Measurement Strategy.

Measurement is everywhere, playing a vital role in our lives

The National Measurement System (NMS) is responsible for stimulating good measurement practice and enables UK businesses to make accurate and traceable measurements, for the benefit of the nation. The NMS is a network of laboratories that provide measurement standards and calibration testing facilities. It maintains the measurement infrastructure, represents the position of UK measurement internationally and influences the development of standards.

The NMS is funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and supports innovation in business by demonstrating the compliance of new products and processes, reducing development times and making existing product improvements possible. It disseminates measurement knowledge and information through events, research, case studies, training, newsletters, advice and guides, to the wider measurement community.

Find out more about NPL's Calibration testing services

Other NMS organisations

Office for Product safety and Standards

International standardisation and traceability

Standards and traceability are important to ensure that measurements are comparable between laboratories, and that data are defendable and meet the specifications required in industry.

Traceability is the property of a measurement or the value of a standard, which means it can be related to stated references, usually national or international standards, through an unbroken chain of comparisons, all having stated uncertainties.

Where nation-to-nation intercomparability or traceability to the SI units is required, then intercomparisons are conducted under the auspices of the CIPM's (the International Committee for Weights and Measures) Consultative Committees or EURAMET's Technical Committees. The CIPM MRA (Mutual Recognition Arrangement) provides the mechanism to ensure the equivalence of measurements in all of the participating countries.

As a National Metrology Institute (NMI), the development of international standards for organisations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) is also an important component of our work.

Measurements made in industry are often supported by documentary standards through ISO or CEN, which in turn are developed and validated through pre-normative research and validation studies.  

Work with us

Our research and measurement solutions support innovation and product development. We work with companies to deliver business advantage and commercial success.
Contact our Customer Services team on +44 20 8943 7070