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Why does the IET Wiring Regulations BS 7671 keep changing?

2022 saw the introduction of yet another new version of Requirements for Electrical Installations. 28th March the IET Wiring Regulations 18th edition had its second amendment and there is a 6-month transition where installations can use either amendment 1 or amendment 2. It changed from the blue version published in July 2018 to brown. Also referred to in different ways e.g The Wiring Regs, BS 7671, or just the 18th Edition.

As part of the requirements to join a certification body such as NICEIC or NAPIT, the qualified supervisor must have access to the current version of this code of practice and demonstrate that they understand and are working to it upon their annual inspection.

This amendment to BS 7671 has been four years in the making. It's mainly based on changes to CENELEC harmonisation documents (HDs). CENELEC stands for European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation. These are European electrical installation standards. The UK will continue to contribute and implement European standards after BREXIT, as we have an agreed position within the CENELEC organization.

When the UK was approaching Brexit, there were numerous discussions about what our options were from an electrical standards point of view. Some of the options were, that we could have reverted back to what was in the 15th edition of the IEE wiring regulations, which at that time was only UK content. We could also possibly have adopted the U.S. standards (National Electrical Code NEC). This wasn't an option for us, however, due to the U.S. using different voltages, a different frequency and different concepts for protection against electric shock.

Therefore the only really sensible route for us was to continue with European Standards as we are completely embedded in the concepts of European standardization. When HD's are published all select member countries for three years to implement these new requirements and remove any conflicting requirements, which is why BS 7671 is amended approximately every three to four years.

When HD's that missed the cutoff point for BS 7671, BSi will publish those standards as BS HD's until BS 7671 can incorporate them at the next revision stage.

There is in fact two international organisations that work closely together in the process of developing electrical regulations. As well as CENELEC there is the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

The electrotechnical committee of the IEC is known as IEC/TC 64 and its members are drawn from the national committees of countries throughout the world. There are 86 members of the IEC of which 62 are full members and 24 are associate members.

Following agreement at IEC level, CENELEC may publish either one of two standards – Harmonisation Documents (HDs) and European Norms (ENs). ENs are published by BSI as BS ENs.

The 18th edition was the launching pad for new concepts like energy efficiency and prosuming installations. There are smart technological aspects coming through which have been discussed within standard committes.

Clearly standards must keep evolving as electrical installations are becoming more and more complex. We have to look beyond just a light or a socket outlet on the end of a circuit.

A question often asked is "who writes the wiring regs"?

JPEL/64 is the Electrical Installations of Buildings Joint Committee which under the direction of the British Electrotechnical Committee, the Standards Policy and Strategy Committee, and the IET, is responsible for the UK input to IEC/TC 64 and CLC/TC 64 and the National implementation of the standards produced as BS 7671 - Wiring Regulations.

It is comprised of organisations that are stakeholders within the UK electrical industry. The list of participants can be found near the front of BS 7671. There are four sub-committees which assist in the review, comment and updating of BS 7671:

  • JPEL/64/A Verification

  • JPEL/64/B Thermal Effects

  • JPEL/64/C Shock Protection

  • JPEL/64/D External Influences

JPEL/64 reviews the current versions of IEC/CENELEC standards and converts the electrical safety content into UK regulations, BS 7671. These documents are part of the HD 60364 series for electrical installations for buildings and represent an attempt to harmonise national wiring standards within Europe. A list of these standards can be seen in

BS 7671:2018 +A2:2022.

The timeline for work within JPEL/64 when new proposals are submitted to the committee to provide comments and vote on is:

  • Working Draft (WD)

  • Committee Draft (CD)

  • Committee Draft for Vote (CDV)

  • Final Draft International Standard (FDIS)

A Draft for Public Comment (DPC) for BS 7671 is released for the electrical industry to provide comments. This is a chance for the industry to submit comments during the allotted period using the BSI website.


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