The legislative and regulatory framework of PNRA comprises of three tiers. The first tier of this framework is PNRA Ordinance promulgated by the Government of Pakistan. This presents basic objectives, concepts and principles of nuclear safety and empowers PNRA to ensure nuclear safety
by issuing necessary regulations; authorizing the nuclear installations, radiation facilities and associated activities; performing inspections to verify compliance of regulations; and taking enforcement actions in cases of non-compliance.

The second tier comprises PNRA regulations. These establish the administrative and technical requirements in the areas of nuclear safety; radiation protection; waste and transport safety; emergency preparedness and response; physical protection of nuclear installation and radiation facilities; and security of radioactive sources. These regulations are mandatory to ensure protection of the workers, the general public and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

The third tier of the framework consists of the regulatory guides which present the acceptable methodologies to comply with the regulatory requirements set forth by PNRA regulations. The regulatory guides are non-mandatory in nature and the licensees may choose any alternate approach to comply with the regulatory requirements by determining that the adopted approach provides similar or higher level of safety as that of the methodology presented by the regulatory guides.

PNRA regulations and guides are approved by following a pre-defined process. Comments of the interested parties are invited by sharing the draft regulations and guides and uploading the drafts on PNRA website. Due account is taken of international standards and experience feedback. The regulations and guides are made consistent and comprehensive; and provide adequate coverage commensurate with the radiation risks associated with the facilities and activities, in accordance with a graded approach.