What are Regulations, Codes, and Standards?
A standard consists of technical definitions and guidelines that function as instructions for designers/manufacturers and operators/users of equipment. Standards are considered voluntary because they are guidelines and not enforceable by law.
A code is a set of laws or regulations that have been adopted by one or more governmental bodies and is enforceable by law.
A regulation can either be a rule dealing with details of procedure, or an order issued by government and enforced by law. Regulations are generally safety-oriented.
Regulations are typically available without a fee, such as viewing or downloading the Code of Federal Regulations online. Codes and standards for components and systems; however, are generally offered for sale by the code or standard development organizations that developed and published them. Free access to codes may be available online.
A more in-depth overview on the distinctions between codes, standards, regulations, technical specifications, technical reports, and information reports is available on our Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Safety Report website.