The Kitemark is a UK product and service quality trade mark which is owned and operated by The British Standards Institution (BSI Group).

BSI Kitemark certification symbol
Certifying agencyBSI Group
Effective regionUnited Kingdom
Effective since1903
Product categoryVarious
Legal statusAdvisory
WebsiteKitemark home page

The Kitemark is most frequently used to identify products where safety is paramount, such as crash helmets, smoke alarms and flood defences. In recent years the Kitemark has also been applied to a range of services, such as electrical installations; car servicing and accident repair; and window installations.

Origins of the Kitemark

The Kitemark was originally conceived in 1903[1] as a symbol to identify products manufactured to meet British Standards' specifications. "Kitemark" came from the kite shape of the graphic device which was drawn up – an uppercase B (for British) on its back, over an S (for standard), enclosed by a V (for verification).[2]

The Kitemark was subsequently registered as a trade mark on 12 June 1903[1] and as such is among the oldest product quality marks in the world still in regular use.


The Kitemark was initially used as a trade mark on tramway rails in 1903 and was instrumental in reducing the number of specifications for rails from 75 to 5.[1] The first full Kitemark scheme – equivalent to today’s Kitemark – came into being in 1926, when the General Electric Company was awarded a Kitemark for light fittings.[1][3]

For the next few decades, the use of Kitemark was largely limited to technical and engineering applications up until the 1950s when the boom in consumer products led to increased concern about product safety. By the 1960s the Kitemark was being utilized to identify safe products in areas such as nightwear, domestic furniture, pressure cookers and motorcycle helmets.[4]

With the introduction of quality management systems standards in the 1970s Kitemark schemes were developed in areas such as double glazing and fire safety. Today there are more than 450 individual Kitemark schemes covering products as diverse as printed circuit boards and cattle tags, and services as disparate as financial products and flood protection.


The Kitemark is only available from BSI Group.[5] To obtain Kitemark certification, products and services are assessed by BSI Product Services to ensure that they meet the requirements of the relevant British, European, trade association or international specification or standard. In addition, delivery of the product or service is audited against an accredited quality management system. Once a Kitemark licence is issued, licensees are regularly audited and are subject to surveillance visits to ensure continuing compliance.

Market acceptance

The Kitemark is not a legal requirement, but is often used as a point of differentiation in competitive markets[6] and is widely trusted: a 2006 survey demonstrated that the Kitemark is recognized by 82 per cent of the UK population, 88 per cent of whom trust the Kitemark, 93 per cent of whom believe that Kitemark products are safer, and 91 per cent of whom believe the product is of a better quality than similar products without the Kitemark.[7] A 2008 YouGov poll showed that almost half (49 per cent) of UK consumers look for a Kitemark when making a purchase.[8]

In 2008 and 2009 the Kitemark was independently voted a Superbrand in the Top 500 Business Superbrands in the UK.[8]

Examples of Kitemark schemes

  • Building Information Modelling (BIM)
  • Car accident repair
  • Car servicing
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Customer service
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Windows and doors
  • Glass
  • Plugs and sockets
  • Prophylactics
  • Motorcycle helmets
  • Horse riding helmets
  • Ladders
  • Flood barriers

Misuse of "Kitemark"

The word "Kitemark" is a registered trade mark of the British Standards Institution. BSI, owner of the name and trade mark, takes protection of the mark extremely seriously and action is taken where misuse or infringement occurs.[9]

See also


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