A technical explanation of the ETIM Standard

This section is for anyone involved in the maintenance and transfer of product data or who is interested in the more technical aspects of the ETIM classification, the structure of ETIM data and how it can be transferred between parties.

Use the menu on the right to click through to the section you are interested in.

If you can’t find the information you seek, please contact the EDA’s Richard Appleton on 020 3141 7350

An end to re-keying

Before we get into the technical details, it’s worth remembering that the ETIM models deals with the most important technical characteristics of your products.

ETIM product classification is a logical, unambiguous classification  or taxonomy. It is designed to facilitate the smooth transfer of electronic data along the UK’s electrical supply chain, without any re-working or re-keying, ready to be served up on a website, printed catalogue or BIM product data template.


All elements of the ETIM standard are created in three core or base languages:

  1. German
  2. Dutch
  3. English

Each country translates ETIM into its own language.  As the English version, or ‘System English’ as it is often referred to, is not created by native speakers our first task is to turn this ‘System English’ into correct English.

One major advantage of ETIM is that it is multilingual, and this is because the translations are always done by experts in each country.

ETIM's structure

Here we show you how the ETIM classification is structured. Your product’s technical data will be organised using an established 6-step structure, from the Product Group at the top through to Units (of measurement) at the bottom.

  1. Product Groups
  2. Product Classes
  3. Synonyms (and Keywords)
  4. Features
  5. Values
  6. Units

Below we’ve created a visual representation of ETIM’s structure, using Compact Fluorescent Lamps as an example.

Globally consistent

The content of the ETIM structure is identical in all member countries. Any ETIM Class in use in a country has exactly the same features, with the same Identifier Code, in every country. You’ll find more about Identifier Codes in the section below.

An illustration of the ETIM Classification Model

An example of the ETIM Classification using the Lamps Product Group

Product Groups

This is the top level of the classification. It tells you very simply the type of product being described and is an efficient way of organising the ETIM classification by grouping similar products together. For example, Lamps is a Product Group, as is Cables or Circuit Breakers or Fuses and so on.

Product Classes

The Product Class is where ETIM adds more detail about your product, and is a way of grouping similar products together.

Every Product Class is assigned to one Product Group, but there will be multiple Classes in any Group. For example, if Lamps is the Product Group, then there could be a Class for ‘compact fluorescent lamps with integrated ballast’, and another for ‘LED lamp’, and another for ‘high voltage halogen lamp’ and so on.

Synonyms or Keywords

A synonym is a word that has the same or nearly the same meaning as another word. This aspect of ETIM is part of the Product Class and provides alternative names for each Class.

A Product Class can have several synonyms, and each ETIM organisation is responsible for setting the synonyms in its local language.

Synonyms (often referred to as keywords) can’t be used at the Product Group level, they can only be used with Product Classes.


Features add more detail to the Product Class. There are 4 types of feature available in ETIM, depending on the product features you are describing:

  1. Alphanumeric (A): this feature allows you to assign a description to your product such as red, green, long, short and so on, from a pre-set list of values. You’ll find further information on values below.
  2. Logic (L): this feature chooses yes or no to describe your product’s technical features.
  3. Numeric (N): this feature uses a number, which could be unit or measurement.
  4. Range (R): this feature uses two numbers to measure a product’s range. It will also be clear which unit of measurement is used. For example,  frequency 50-60Hz.


When you need to describe a feature of your product using an Alphanumeric format, ETIM will offer up a pre-set list of values.  For example, to describe the colour of your product ETIM doesn’t offer you free text fields but instead offers a list of colours which have been agreed ahead of time as relevant to the Product Class you are dealing with.


Units, or units of measurement, are important when you are describing a feature of your product using a Numeric format or Range format.

A numeric may simply describe a count of items and no unit is needed, but when you are describing a Product’s range, you will need to use units.

Identifier codes

Each tier of the classification has a corresponding code, referred to as the identifier code which is a combination of letters and numbers.

  1. Product Groups’ identifier code is EG plus 6 digits
    • For example, the identifier code for Lamps is EG000028
  2. Product Classes’ identifier code is EC plus 6 digits
    • For example, the identifier code for compact fluorescent lamp with integrated ballast is EC000819
  3. Features’ identifier code is EF plus 6 digits
    • For example, the identifier code for Lamp power is EF000035
  4. Value identifier code is EV plus 6 digits
    • For example, the identifier code for B15d is EV000076
  5. Unit identifier code is EU plus 6 digits
    • For example, the identifier code for Watt (W) is EU570054

IXF: the consistent carrier for all ETIM releases

Starting with ETIM 6.0 which was released in April 2014, ETIM has developed a new uniform international release format based on XML

ETIM IXF is the international standard for all ETIM releases. It is multilingual and can contain multiple language versions of the ETIM Model in one file.

Local decisions

At a local level, every ETIM country can still decide to have additional country specific release formats if they choose. ETIM CMT master database already supports a range of export formats including:

  • csv
  • Access
  • Excel

BMEcat®: the standard ETIM exchange format latest release Feb 2018

ETIM International recommends the BMEcat® standard as it is one of the most accepted e-business formats.

The ETIM BMEcat® is a subset of the basic BMCat 2005 version but with specific country and user-defined extensions.

It is the most common exchange format within the ETIM countries. However, in some countries specific national formats are still in use and accepted as sector standard, sometimes in addition to BMEcat®.

The BMEcat Standard was introduced in November 1999 in cooperation with the BME e.V. (German Federal Association for Materials Management, Procurement and Logistics) as a standard for electronic data transfer of multimedia product catalogues. It is based on the internet standard XML (Extensible Markup Language) as a universal platform and manufacturer independent data exchange format.

Trusted by global brands including American Express, AUDI, Bayer, BMW, Deutsche Bahn, Philips, Siemens and VISA, as well as procurement solutions including SAP Ariba and Perfect Commerce.

BMEcat® downloads

Here you can download a PDF of the latest BMEcat® guide (4.0 February 2018).

You can download the ETIM BMEcat® files from the ETIM International website. 


ETIM BMEcat® Certification Tool

The Certification Tool (CT) validates XML files against the ETIM BMEcat Guidelines V3.1 and V4.0, and the classification releases ETIM 6.0. and ETIM 7.0.

It will:

  • allow you to upload a datafile
  • validate that file against selected countries
  • in the event of failure, provide an error listing and
  • provide an error report which you can download with suggested corrections that need to be made to achieve validation.

Free to ETIM-UK members

There is a ETIM BMEcat® certification tool available to download on the ETIM International website which is free to ETIM-UK members, but as you’ll see if you follow the link, you will need a log on and password. To request these please email Richard Appleton or phone 020 3141 7352.

Alternative option – XML Marker

Alternatively, there is an alternative free tool available to edit XML called XML Marker (simply search for XML Marker online) . Once the file has been successfully validated there is also a PDF format certificate which confirms the countries the file has passed validation for.You can tailor the PDF certificate to add your contact details.®

There will be a short video that fully explains this process, which will be available later this year.

Getting your data ETIM-ready - don't wait, you can make progress now

We estimate that it will take around 9 months to create the version of ETIM tailored to the UK market. A Standardization Committee will be created for each Product Group, and we estimate there are around 30 Groups.

Yes, there is a lot of preparatory work to do, but if you want to get a head start in getting your product data ready you can start today.

Download and start getting your data ETIM-ready

You can structure your product data using ETIM’s system English version 6.0 which you can download from the ETIM-International website.

The current version of the global classification is ETIM 7.0, which was published in early September 2017. You can read more about the latest release, with links to download the software and information on mapping tools. 

Flexible and product-led: how ETIM-UK evolves to match your products

New products are launched and existing products evolve, and the ETIM classification needs to keep pace.

Created by ETIM International, there is a tried and tested method for submitting and managing changes and additions to any in-country ETIM classification. Any Request For Change (RFC) or addition can only be made by a member of their Technical Committee. For the UK, the EDA’s Richard Appleton, will process and manage all RFCs and additions centrally for the UK.

Whilst you won’t be able to submit a RFC or addition direct to ETIM International, you can still keep track of its progress through the Classification Management Tool, which you can read about below.

Classification Management Tool (CMT): your gateway to ETIM International

The CMT is a custom-built online software tool which gives you access to the international multilingual ETIM master database.

You can use the CMT to:

  • Look up essential information about the ETIM Model.
  • Check the progress of Request For Change (RFC) or additions.
  • Take part in online discussions regarding RFC or additions (log on needed).
  • Set favourites, or Personal Interest Filters (PIFs), so you can receive weekly status updates on the products you are interested in (log on needed).

How to access the Classification Management Tool (CMT)

You do not need a log on or password to access the main ETIM International site check essential ETIM information, including Groups, Classes and Values. 

A log on and password is only required if you wish to monitor, or take part in, online discussions regarding Requests For Change (RFC) or to set your Personal Interest Filters (PIFs). For example, if you are a cable manufacturer you may wish to add ‘cable’ as a PIF.

To request a log on and password, or you have any questions, please contact Richard Appleton at the EDA on 020 3141 7350.

CMT: the Movie

This short video will help you understand the some of the basic functionality of the CMT.

Simply click on the image below to launch the video.



In development: New 3D line drawing functionality aids BIM integration

It’s still in the project planning phase but in the ETIM pipeline is a valuable new feature called the ETIM Modelling Class (MC).

ETIM MC means you’ll be able to add a 3D line drawing and dimensional data, which would be useful for  Building Information Modelling (BIM) integration..

Modelling Class: the Movie

This short video brings to life the difference that accurate and consistent product parameters will be invaluable to designers and installers.