What’s the importance of an accredited Certification Body?

ISO Certification by an Accredited Certification Body Equals Increased Credibility

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”  –Abraham Lincoln, (attributed)

Is your ISO Standards based Management System certified by an ‘accredited certification body’?

Acquiring your certification for your ISO management system through an accredited Certification Body is essential if you wish to be recognized as having a genuine Certification for your ISO Standards based system. However, certification is not a requirement of any of ISO’s management system standards. This section provides a basic understanding of what certification and related terms like accreditation, and registration mean.

Certification – the provision by an independent body of written assurance (a certificate) that the product, service or system in question meets specific requirements. Certification is very often referred to as ‘registration’ in North America.

Registration‘ often means that the certifying body (aka Registrar) records the certification in its client register. So, the organization’s management system has been both certified and registered.

Accreditation – the formal recognition by an independent body, generally known as an Accreditation Body (AB), that a Certification Body (CB) is capable of carrying out the certification audit process in accordance with the International Standard ISO 19011:2011.

ISO 19011:2011 provides guidance on auditing management systems, including the principles of auditing, managing an audit program and conducting management system audits, as well as guidance on the evaluation of competence of individuals involved in the audit process, including the person managing the audit program, auditors and audit teams.

ISO 19011:2011 is applicable to all organizations that need to conduct internal or external audits of management systems or manage an audit program.

Accreditation is not obligatory but it adds another level of confidence, credibility, and integrety, as ‘accredited’ means the certification body has been independently checked to make sure it operates according to International Standard. In the context of ISO 9001:2008 or ISO 14001:2004 and other ISO Standards, ‘certification‘ refers to the issuing of written assurance (the certificate) by an independent external body that it has audited a management system and verified that it conforms to the requirements specified in the standard.

Therefore, in the ISO 9001:2008 or ISO 14001:2004 context, the difference between the two terms is not significant and both are acceptable for general use. “Certification” is the term most widely used worldwide, although registration is often preferred in North America, and the two are used interchangeably.

On the contrary, using ‘accreditation’ as an interchangeable alternative for certification or registration is a mistake, because it means something different.

In the ISO Standards context, accreditation refers to the formal recognition by a specialized body – an accreditation body – that a certification body is competent to carry out a audit for certification in specified business sectors.

In simple terms, accreditation is like certification of the certification body. Certificates issued by accredited certification bodies are perceived on the market as having increased credibility.

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) is one of the world associations for Conformity Assessment Accreditation Bodies and other bodies interested in conformity assessment in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar program of conformity assessment. Its primary function is to develop a single worldwide program of conformity assessment which reduces risk for business and its customers by assuring them that accredited certificates may be relied upon. Accreditation assures users of the competence and impartiality of the body accredited.