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What are Standards?

Trade and industry are bound by official specifications in areas such as construction requirements, codes of practice, methods of testing or terminology. Standards are used to provide uniformity, reliability and safety for all parties concerned.

Many organisations issue standards, including trade associations and government departments. Standards are identifiable by a unique document code, number and year (eg. AS 1816.1-2007).


Standards are "living" documents - up to 15% of them change every year. This is why Standards might have current, draft and withdrawn versions and access will expire even after PDF download.

Searching and accessing standards

The SAI Global database

SAI Global is an information agent. The Library subscribes to SAI Global's premium database to provide seamless full text access to Australian standards; as well as some international standards on a 'pay per view' basis via an 'unlocking' facility.

In addition, SAI Global have an online consumer store from which a large number of international standards can be purchased (in PDF or print). Some standards in the subscription database redirect to this online store.

Access is via SAI Global or via the Library's Databases page.

Tips for use
  • The database enables 2 simultaneous users to download Australian standards, while multiple users can search. To optimise access, it is essential to click on 'Subscription Logout' after use.
  • PDFs of a required version should be printed if needed for permanent reference as PDF files expire after 5 days from download, as SAI Global content is updated daily.

Australian (subscribed full text)

Current, draft and withdrawn Australian standards issued by Standards Australia are available online from the SAI Global database (previously ASO or Australian Standards Online).

International (on demand purchase by the library)

Within SAI Global some international standards (including ISO, IEC, EN, NSI & JSA) can be located, but state 'Request to Unlock' to view (essentially pay per view - cost is borne by the library).


  • Before requesting to unlock, check to see if there is an Australian equivalent standard to the international version that can be used.
  • Standards may be equivalent or identical in technical content but not fully corresponding in presentation, i.e. with minor technical deviations that do not render unacceptable under the terms of the national standard; anything that was acceptable under the terms of the international standard and vice versa.

To cross-check:

  • Select the International equivalents link (left hand menu) and search by the international standard number (tick corresponding radio button). The database will list any equivalent Australian standards.

If proceeding to 'Request to Unlock'  is necessary, the request automatically generates an email to the Library for consideration in line with research and teaching needs. Student requests need the support of an academic supervisor.

Other standards organisations and societies

Some international standards organisations also provide options for purchasing their standards (PDF or print) on their websites. Links to websites and databases of other selected organisations who issue standards are listed in the table below (this includes three additional paid subscription databases, with inclusive content ASTM and IEEE):

Subscription databases

ASTM - American Society for Testing and Materials, iHS site (information agent)

  • Standards covering areas such as metals, petroleum, construction and the environment

IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Xplore database

  • Quality technical literature including IEEE transactions, journals, magazines, standards, and conference proceedings. 1988+

Standard Methods for the Examination of Water & Wastewater - a joint guide of the American Public Health Association (APHA), Water Works Association (AWWA) and Water Environment Federation (WEF).

  • Standard analytical techniques for the determination of water quality

Non-subscribed services

ANSI - American National Standards Institute

  • Coordinates US standards development and accreditation of US standards organisations
  • Search in SAI Global database - redirects to purchase from SAI Global's consumer website

BSI - British Standards Institution

  • British, European and international standards
  • Search in SAI Global database - redirects to purchase from SAI Global's consumer website

CEN/EN - European Committee for Standardization

  • Equivalent national standards for European Union members
  • Search via SAI Global - standards can be unlocked 'on demand' within the database

DIN - German Institute for Standardization

  • German national standards body covering a range of industries
  • Search in SAI Global database - redirects to purchase from SAI Global's consumer website

ETSI - European Telecommunications Standards Institute

  • Website includes search engine to locate ETSI standards covering information and communication technologies (ICT)
  • Publicly available standards can be freely downloaded following registration
  • Or, search in SAI Global database - standards must be unlocked 'on demand' within the database

IEC - International Electrotechnical Commission

  • Standards covering electrical, electronic and related technologies
  • Search in SAI Global database - standards must be unlocked 'on demand' within the database

ISO - International Organization for Standardization

  • Designs standards for implementation worldwide, based on input from national standards organisations
  • Search in SAI Global database - standards must be unlocked 'on demand' within the database

JSA/JIS - Japanese Standards Association

  • Japanese standards (JSA/JIS), including English versions
  • Search in SAI Global database - standards must be unlocked 'on demand' within the database

NSSN - National Standards Systems Network

  • Information on U.S. and international standards from a range of standards developers and government agencies
Last reviewed: 1 May, 2015

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