FAQ

What is accreditation?
Accreditation denotes both a status and process. As a status it denotes conformity to a specific standard as set forth by an accrediting agency and as a process it shows a commitment to continuous improvement. Accreditation means that the certification body meets the requirements of a national or an international standard as assessed by an accrediting agency.
What are the benefits of accreditation?
Accreditation is a means of assessing, in the public interest, the technical competence and integrity of organisations offering evaluation services.

Accreditation, with its many potential benefits for the quality of goods and in the provision of services throughout the supply chain, underpins practical applications of an increasingly wide range of activities across all sectors of the economy, from fishing to forestry, construction to communications.
What does accreditation cover?
The scope of the accreditation is determined by the standard to which the certification body is accredited. In general, the accreditation standard covers aspects of governance, disclosure, fairness to candidates, non-discrimination, and disclosure.
Is accreditation mandatory?
Accreditation by an accreditation body is completely voluntary; certification bodies are not required to participate. Yet, accreditation by an accreditation body under its consensus and due process-based system provides certification bodies with an exemplary level of credibility, integrity and trust.
What is an accredited body?
An organisation that provides certification, testing, calibration, inspection and other conformity assessment services can seek accreditation. An accredited body has demonstrated that it fully meet the requirements of relevant national and international standards.

The criteria for determining a certification body’s competence are based on the relevant national or international standard (such as ISO/IEC 17024, ISO/IEC Guide 65ISO/IEC 17021) and include: the qualifications required knowledge and skills, training and experience of staff; appropriate equipment that is properly calibrated and maintained; adequate quality assurance procedures; and appropriate sampling practices.

Accredited bodies can be private or government owned, and can range in size from sole traders to large multi-disciplinary, multi-site organisations.

The IAF operates in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programmes of conformity assessment, while laboratory and inspection accreditation is managed at the global level by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).
What is the difference between the terms ‘accreditation’ and ‘certification’?
Accreditation: Accreditation is the formal recognition by an ‘accreditation authority’ to the technical and organisational competence of a conformity assessment body, to carry out a ‘specific service’ in accordance to the standards and technical regulations, as described in their ‘scope of accreditation’. It provides a means to identify a proven, competent evaluator so that the selection of a laboratory, inspection or certification body is an informed choice.

Certification: Certification is the procedure by which a third party gives written assurance that a product, process, system or person conforms to specified requirements.
What are standards?
International Standards make things work. They give world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency. They are instrumental in facilitating international trade.

ISO has published 21508 International Standards and related documents, covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare. ISO International Standards impact everyone, everywhere.
What is certification?
Certification is a “third-party attestation related to products, processes, systems or persons,” as defined by ISO/IEC 17000 Conformity Assessment—Vocabulary and General Principles

Certification is most often associated with ISO 9001 and the environmental management systems standard ISO 14001. However, certification programs exist for a range of management systems standards, including the ISO/IEC 2700 program for information security management and the ISO 22000 program for food safety management.

Product certification is the process of verifying that a product, including services and processes, meet requirements specified in contracts, regulations, or specifications.

In most countries, accreditation is voluntary, however, many certification bodies choose to seek accreditation in order to demonstrate third-party confirmation of their competence.
What are the benefits of using an accredited certification body?
Selecting the right organisation to carry out your certification can be fraught with unknowns. Choosing a certification body that has been accredited by an accreditation body that is a signatory to the IAF Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA) has proved that it complies with best practice. It is competent to deliver a consistently reliable, and impartial and accurate service which meets the appropriate, internationally-recognised standard.

Using an accredited certification body can:

• de-risk your procurement by taking the guesswork out of choosing a certification body by giving you confidence that you will get the service that closely meets your requirements;

• win new business particularly since the use of accredited conformity assessment services is increasingly a stipulation of specifiers in both the public and private sector;

• gain access to overseas markets since certificates issued by bodies that are accredited by an IAF MLA signatory are recognised and accepted throughout the world;

• help to identify best practice since the certification body is required to have appropriate knowledge of your business sector;

• offer market differentiation and leadership by showing to others credible evidence of good practice;

• demonstrate due diligence in the event of legal action;

• reduce paperwork and increase efficiency by reducing the need to re-audit your business.
What are the expected outcomes for accredited certification to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001?
ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification are frequently used in both private and public sectors to increase confidence in the products and services provided by organizations, between partners in business-to-business relations, in the selection of suppliers in supply chains and in the right to tender for procurement contracts.

IAF and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have jointly produced a concise statement of outcomes that are to be expected as a result of accredited certification to ISO 9001. The intent is to promote a common focus throughout the entire conformity assessment chain in order to achieve these expected outcomes and thereby enhance the value and relevance of accredited certification.
What is CE marking?
CE marking on a product is mandatory. It proves it meets minimum legal requirements of the relevant Directive, which allows it to be placed legally on the market in any European member state. CE marking gives your company easier access into the European market to sell your products without adaptation or rechecking.
What are EU Directives?
An EU Directive is a form of legislation that sets out requirements your products must meet in order to sell them into Europe.

The European Union introduced a series of measures to simplify the movement of goods throughout the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). Some of these measures are known as New Approach Directives. New Approach Directives provide controls on product design and above all, seek to harmonize product safety requirements across Europe.

The directives cover a very wide range of product areas including construction products, personal protective equipment and pressure equipment. Their primary objective is to ensure that the products are well designed, and safe for the user.

Throughout Europe, where a New Approach Directive is in force, it is necessary for the manufacturer to CE mark their product. CE marking requirements vary from Directive to Directive, and even within Directives.

Third-party testing, systems assessment and technical file assessments can be mandatory, but sometimes the manufacturer's unverified claim is all that's asked for. But beware! If you claim your product complies and it doesn't, you will be prosecuted. Where a Directive requires products and/or systems to be independently tested, certified, or inspected, this must be done by a "Notified Body" or "Competent Body".

We are a UK notified body for 17 EU Directives, which means we can provide you with professional guidance on how to meet all the essential requirements, so that your product can be bought to market quickly. We also offer one of the most comprehensive services in the world, enabling you to confidently and legally affix the CE mark to your products.
What is the CE marking process?
You will need to:

• Identify the Directive(s) that are applicable to your product
• Identify the conformity assessment procedure for your product and Directive
• Determine the dates by which you must take action
• Identify if there are any Harmonised European Standards applicable to your product
• Ensure the product complies with all the essential requirements of the Directive(s)
• Identify whether independent assessment of your conformity is required by a Notified Body
• Maintain Technical Documentation required by the Directive(s)
• Prepare the Declaration of Conformity and the required supporting evidence
• Check that no other purely national requirements exist in the country where the product is to be sold
• Contact us to arrange for testing of your product
• If all requirements are met, you can then affix the CE mark on your product and/or packaging
Why do you need a Notified Body for CE marking?
If a Directive requires products or systems to be independently tested, certified or inspected, you'll need a Notified Body for CE marking.

We will assess whether your product conforms to the essential requirements listed in the relevant directive. This might be inspection, quality assurance, type or design examination, or a combination of these. As well as helping you to prove your product meets the Directive, you’ll benefit from our expert knowledge, experience, independence and resources.
What are the benefits of CE marking?
CE marking allows you to sell your product in the countries of the European Economic Area (EEA). By implementing the requirements you may also find that your product is safer and more reliable; therefore reduce the risk of customer dissatisfaction.