Attention scale operators: if you plan to use a scale to conduct commerce, here are a few things you should know to keep you in compliance with California law.  Before purchasing a scale, make sure the scale is a “legal for trade” scale.  Scale manufacturers that want to sell scales for commercial transactions must have their scale(s) approved by governing state or federal agencies.  As part of the certification process, scales undergo a range of tests to evaluate specification and performance requirements.  Approved scales are issued a certificate by the state or federal regulatory agency, permitting the scale to be used for commerce.

If you plan on purchasing a scale, make sure it is appropriate for your application.  Will you be selling pumpkins or herbs?  The scale’s accuracy should be more refined as the value of the product being purchased/sold increases in value.  You don’t want to use a shipping scale to sell a high value commodity such as herbs.

Scales offer choices in style and function.  Mechanical scales don’t require an external power source like electronic scales.  A hanging mechanical scale does require the user of the scale to interpret the weight value and to compute a final purchase price.  Many electronic scales offer extra functions like price computing and cash register integration which makes the process easier on the scale user.

After you purchase your “legal for trade” scale and prior to putting it to use, please make sure to register it with Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures.  The registration and certification of your scale is required under state law.  If the scale passes testing, it will be registered and certified by the Department, giving the owner approval to use the scale commercially in Sonoma County.

At the market or at your place of business, please follow these device user requirements: place the scale in a position that allows the weighing process to be visible to customers; place the scale in a level condition (not sloping); and make sure the scale indicates a zero-weight value (balanced condition) prior to conducting any weighing.  If you need to purchase a commercial scale and have questions about the process, please call our office at (707) 565-2371 and ask to speak with a Weights & Measures inspector about scales.