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If you use any sort of device to weigh or measure items in your business, you may need a weights and measures license to operate in your state. For example, if you use electric meters, wired cordage meters, propane meters, fuel dispensers, water meters, gas meters, produce scales, livestock scales, truck scales, deli scales, or shipping scales, your state’s Weights and Measures department has to approve your equipment to ensure it’s working properly. This department can inform you of which business licenses, permits & tax documents you’ll need to file and get approved before you can operate.

Why We Need Weights and Measures

Remember the old days where a shopkeeper might tilt the scale in his favor when measuring out flour for a customer? It was unfair for the customer to pay more, but there were no measures in place to ensure fair weighing. Now we have the Weights and Measures program in each state (run by the Department of Agriculture), which helps customers ensure vendors aren’t cheating them, and helps vendors make sure they’re delivering on their promise in terms of weight for a given item.

Having your weights and measures license simply says that the appropriate authority has checked your equipment and confirms that it’s working the way it should.

If a customer has a complaint about your weighing procedures, it will be filed with your state’s Weights and Measures department, who will then investigate the claim.

Applying for your Weights and Measures License

If you’re applying for your weights and measures license for the first time, you will be required to list all the commercial devices you use to weigh, including their serial numbers. You may be required to purchase devices that have been approved before use by National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP), the official governing body that assesses weighing and measuring tools for the market.

If you plan to add additional scales or equipment to your business, you will be required to submit the details for the new equipment to your state’s Weights and Measures board. Do the same if you replace a scale at your store or facility.

Tips to Keep in Mind

Once you have your weights and measures license approved, stay legal with these tips:

  • Keep your business license visible to customers
  • When using your scale for customer purchases, make sure the customer can read the scale
  • You must sell by net weight; you can’t include the weight of the packaging in the final weight number
  • Make sure scale is on a flat, level surface

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