International Exit Signs

International Exit Signs

Every industrialized county in the world has their own requirements for Exit Signs used in public, commercial and industrial facilities. While most of these countries use the IEC (International Electric Code) for the basis of their regulations, there are a number of specific requirements that might be needed to satisfy each country’s interpretations for additions to the IEC regulations.


With today’s global economy and more and more countries having offshore facilities, it is important to be flexible with your facility and workspace requirements. This can include providing customized equipment and facilities to meet local requirements. International Exits Signs are one way of meeting these needs.

International Exit Signs

International exit signs are manufactured to operate on different voltage and hertz configurations.


Many countries throughout the world have different electrical systems. While all of them are AC (alternating current) systems, not all of them are 120 VAC, 60 Hz systems. The nominal voltage in different countries can fluctuate anywhere around 110 VAC (110 VAC to 127 VAC) or 230 VAC (220 to 240 VAC); while the frequency can be either 50 or 60 Hz (cycles per second).

Since these are lighting products, the frequency doesn’t have as great an impact as the voltage. Small deviations in electrical power, such as the difference between 220 VAC and 240 VAC, really won’t make a significant difference, only affecting the brightness of the bulbs by 5% to 10%. On the other hand, connecting an Exit Sign designed for 120 VAC to 220 VAC will cause it to fail rather spectacularly; probably with some assorted pyrotechnics for everyone’s enjoyment. The reverse wont’ cause this problem, but the lights won’t work.

Changing the voltage of a lighted Exit Sign for international use mostly consists of changing the transformer, allowing the unit to step the line voltage down to the correct voltage for the unit’s battery and bulbs.

Additionally, there can be a serious problem with electrical supply reliability in most third-world and developing countries. Power losses or fluctuations in voltage are common, sometimes occurring as a daily event. Since International Exit Signs have to meet the same requirement of being illuminated whenever the facility is occupied, larger battery capacities are required, providing for longer illumination time.


The new Canadian National Building Code, released in 2010; requires, amongst other things, that public and commercial buildings be provided with Exit Signs. These signs not only must provide for clear identification of all exit points, but continue to provide illuminated identification in the case of building power loss. All of our exit signs that are compliant for the United States are also compliant for Canada, they are CSA Listed. Feel confident when purchasing our exit signs for use in Canada.


CSA listed Exits Signs are similar to those used in the United States and elsewhere. The standard sign is internally illuminated, and has the word “EXIT” or “SORTIE” in bold letters, with a high contrast to the background. Red and green are the most common coloring for either the letters or background; with the other color on the sign being white (red letters on white background, or white letters on red background).


The ISO (International Standards Organization) has developed a graphic, called the “running man” for use on exit signs throughout the world. European countries now require this symbol on all exit signs. Canada will require it starting in 2012. Many other countries are adopting the “rung man” symbol, either alone or in combination with lettering and even arrows.

Regardless of the exact International Exit Sign configuration you need. can provide customized exit signs which will meet the requirements of whatever country you need. Our facilities are ready to provide any changes of voltage, lettering and graphics needed to meet the requirements the county has.


Starting in 2012, the standard lettering on Canadian Exit Signs is to be replaced with the ISO (International Standards Organization) “Running Man.” This graphic, which is to be in green, can be used in conjunction with the traditional lettering or alone.

All new construction will be required to use the Running Man graphic. Buildings which currently have the traditional lettering will not be required to retrofit at this time, unless the owners are doing a major renovation, in which case, changeover of the exit signs is to be considered part of the renovation.

The 2010 standard also allows for use of photoluminescent Exit Signs as an acceptable replacement for traditional electrically powered illuminated signs. Photoluminescent signs “charge” from exposure to as little as 5 lux of light, storing that light within the sign’s material. When the ambient light level drops, the sign releases this energy in the form of light.

Up until the release of the new building code, use of photoluminescent signs was a voluntary option, in addition to illuminated exit signs. This new option allows for using these signs alone, without other types of exit signs.

Photoluminescent Exit Signs are a very cost-effective, no maintenance alternative to standard illuminated Exit Signs. Not only is this “green technology” because the signs don’t require any electrical power, but the signs themselves will last up to 25 years, without maintenance.