Across the world, countries have created or adopted standards that regulate lifts to ensure passengers’ safety. These vary by region and country so in this post, we pinpoint the most used and well-known lift standards.

Surprisingly, there are not as many international standards as one would expect, with just two main players globally (EU and North America) as well as a third, neutral standard (ISO). A few other local codes exist but the main codes have been implemented most widely across the globe. Let’s look at these in more detail.

European Standards

CEN, the European Committee for Standardization, brings together local standardisation bodies into a European-wide harmonised standard. Currently, all members of CEN accept and use the EN81 series of standards.

The EN81 series covers different aspects of lift safety, including:

  • EN81:20 is the overarching standard for safety of new lifts and covers ‘Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts. Lifts for the transport of persons and goods – Passenger and goods passenger lifts’
  • The rest of the EN81 series then covers specific safety measures such as:
    • EN81:28 Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts. Lifts for the transport of persons and goods – Remote alarm on passenger and goods passenger lifts
    • EN81-70: Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Particular applications for passenger and goods passenger lift – Part 70: Accessibility to lifts for persons including persons with disability

USA and Canada

USA uses the A17 elevator safety code series which, since 2000, has been harmonised with Canada’s CSA B44 safety code. This is the main safety code used for all elevator and escalator types in new installations and serves as a basis for the design, construction, installation, operation, testing, inspection, maintenance, alteration, and repair of elevators, dumbwaiters, escalators, moving walks, and material lifts.


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed the ISO-8100 series. These are essentially adoptions and adaptations of the EN81 series.

ISO standards are mostly being adopted in a series of regions outside of the countries mentioned above, including India and South America. The preference, in these cases, is to use an international standard not associated with a specific country or region.

Territory based adoptions

Some countries that don’t have a formal adoption of any of the above standards will tend to adopt portions of the US safety code or portions of the European Standards. What is chosen tends to be related to the historical context in which economic relations with either Great Britain or the USA affect the choice. For example, both South Africa and Nigeria have implemented versions of the British Standards.

Local codes

Singapore utilises a local standard (mainly SS550:2020) which is a modified implementation of the EN standards.

The China Standard Agency (CSA – not to be confused with the Canadian Standard Agency, also CSA) has developed its own standards. Increasingly these follow the EN81 series of standards adapted for the Chinese market.

Mexico has developed its own regulation which is dissimilar to the current code used in the United States and Europe.

Key differences in EU vs US standards

Door Protection

The US has implemented a requirement for door protection (‘door reopening devices’) to include detection of objects approaching the doors (use 3D), this is not (yet) required in other standards.

Emergency Communications

Europe has a requirement for test calls at least every 3 days from emergency lift phones. By contrast the US only requires that the telephone line be monitored.

From 2019 onwards the US has a requirement to include visual communications as part of the emergency comms system. At the time this post is being written, the European standards do not have this requirement.


The US have regulation about occupant evacuation operation (OEO, the use of lifts to evacuate buildings). Europe doesn’t have this yet but is in the development of TS81-76 Evacuation Lift standard.


Author: Milagros Gamero, EU Marketing Communications Manager at AVIRE

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