Usually a policy will go through different stages: making a draft, being revised, being approved by the government, and then taking effect.

Is there a single word for "taking effect" of a policy?

For example,

I was born shortly before the introduction/enaction/beginning of some policy.


  • 2
    I'm not 100% sure on this. But my understanding is, if the government has to pass the law to enforce the policy, the usual term seems to be enactment. Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 21:55
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    @Damkerng: I don't think so. In contexts involving governments, enactment more usually means the process of passing legislation, as per that link. The actual implementation may not occur until much later. Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 23:51
  • Well, in any case, enactment is better than enaction.
    – Kaz
    Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 1:13

7 Answers 7


The exact context may make a difference, but on average I think the most common term would be...

implementation - the realization of an application, or execution of a plan, idea, model, design, specification, standard, algorithm, or policy.

It's a particularly common usage in computer science and the IT industry, but it's also perfectly suitable in the context of government policies, etc.

  • Thanks. Is "introduction" fine?
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 23:53
  • @Tim: Yes and no. A bill could be introduced before Parliament, for example, but not actually passed (voted into law) at all, or it might be a long time later when it's actually implemented. Idiomatically, almost everyone would understand the intended sense in your example usage. But it might not be so clear-cut if you were a Member of Parliament yourself, and you said to another MP "I wasn't elected until after the introduction of that policy". Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 0:11

The common phrase is go into effect:

I was born shortly before the Snail Rights Act went into effect.

Of course, that's an invented example. Let's look at some real examples from COCA:

In June 2002, the McCain-Feingold Act went into effect, banning federal party committees from raising "soft money" donations from labor unions and corporations outside the scope of federal campaign finance law.

Texas Senate Bill 1107, which went into effect Jan. 1, amended a state law to require proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination for new students younger than the age of 30 attending college for the first time.

At issue is whether the penalty people will pay for refusing to buy insurance amounts to a tax. If it does, the argument goes the court can't hear the case until someone actually pays the tax, which won't happen until 2015 after that part of the law goes into effect.


A single word for a policy being in effect is simply either of the verbs "to start" or "to begin".

The new policy { starts | begins } on Jan 1, 2015.

  • You're quite right, of course. Start/begin are far more likely if the context is when the policy [verb]. And that form is more likely overall than the [noun] of the policy. Not to mention which you could also refer to the start of the policy (but you wouldn't often encounter the beginning of the policy). Simplicity is always good! So in OP's context the best option is probably just before [some policy]. In OP's context, the policy probably had no meaning before it started, so "before it" implies "before it started" anyway. Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 2:46

I would use "enter into force", which is a common (legal) term for the point at which a decided-upon norm becomes enforceable against violators.


Another way to say that a policy went into effect (using @snailplane's language) is to use the phrase "effective date":

The effective date of this policy is June 1, 2014.


I'm pretty sure I've heard the term 'rollout' used to indicate the time a policy is to become effective.

One example can be found in the Washington Times here. The article is titled "Planned rollout of new D.C. cameras hits a snag" and talks about the cameras not issuing live tickets starting on Monday as planned as some cameras haven't been issuing 'warning' tickets for a full 30 days. In that context, the writer clearly is referring to the date the cameras begin issuing 'real' tickets as the 'rollout' date.

TFD says:

roll·out (n.) 1. The inauguration or initial public exhibition of a new product, service, or policy

  • According to the Free Dictionary, rollout is when the new policy is exhibited to the public, which would be some time before it comes into effect (to allow the public some time to adapt.)
    – SF.
    Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 8:52
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    @SF. - Rollout meaning "exhibited to the public" can refer to a product, not a just a policy. One can Google Obamacare rollout and find plenty of contexts where this word fits what the O.P. is after: a time when a new policy takes effect. I think this is one of the best suggestions, although the answer itself could use a little beefing up, like the inclusion of an example or two from the media where the word is being used in a way that fits the O.P.'s context.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 10:08

I think you are confusing two very different things, policy and law.

A law is drafted by parties who have an interest in its content. If a constitutionally (and politically) competent legislator can be persuaded to bring it forward, the law is proposed to whatever body is constitutionally charged with legislation. That body considers the law, debates and often amends its provisions, and ultimately (there may be further constitutional hoops to jump through) enacts it. Upon enactment, the law takes effect: becomes binding upon all citizens and corporations which fall under its provisions. It now falls to the executive and judicial authorities (supposing these to be entities distinct from the legislature) to implement the law: to put it into practical effect through public exercise of the public powers these authorities wield.

A policy need undergo none of these events, because a policy is not a law; it is merely a principle adopted by some entity as an appropriate guide to its subsequent actions. A policy may be embodied in a written statement, or it may be an entirely tacit and even unconscious assumption. It may be published and trumpeted, or maintained surreptitiously. It requires no formal enactment beyond the assent of those who agree to be governed by it, it is binding upon no-one at all (including those who adopt it), and it cannot be enforced or implemented except by extra-constitutional means, taking effect on whatever occasion, to whatever extent, and by whatever means, its adopters choose.

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