Codes and Standards Basics

Codes and standards ensure processes and products meet uniform safety and performance requirements. Here you will find basic information about definitions, publishing codes and standards, legal enforcement, and industry norms.


Codes dictate requirements. Standards dictate how to meet those requirements. These elements are codependent. For example, a building code that requires vehicle repair garages have sprinkler protection would need a coexisting standard to specify the requirements for sprinkler protection, and a standard for sprinkler protection would require a code to dictate where it applies.

Publishing Codes and Standards

In the United States, the American National Standards Institute regulates how organizations publish codes and standards. Similarly, the International Code Council uses the government consensus process to publish codes and standards.

Legal Enforcement

Codes and standards are legally enforceable when jurisdictions adopt them by reference or direct incorporation into their regulations. When jurisdictions adopt codes, they also adopt the standards that dictate how to meet those codes.

Industry Norms

Codes and standards often become industry norms when industries comply with them even though jurisdictions have not adopted them.

Learn about codes and standards resources.