ISO Certification vs ISO Accreditation

ISO Certification vs ISO Accreditation are 2 terms that are somewhat used interchangeably, but that however have 2 very different meanings. So, to explain this difference, let’s start from the foundation of what ISO.

What is ISO

ISO is the International Organisation for Standardisation and its role within the industry is to create standards covering various topics. In total, ISO has developed over 23,833 International standards and all are included in the ISO standards catalog. Some of the most known standards are ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 22000, ISO 20121, and ISO 15189.

Therefore, the role of ISO is to develop the standards, and they are not involved in their certification and do not issue certificates. These certificates are issued by certification bodies.

It is important to note that accredited certification bodies cannot offer consultancy or training services to help companies get certified. That is a clear conflict of interest and is subject to penalties and/or disqualification by ISO.

ISO Certification vs ISO Accreditation
ISO Certification vs ISO Accreditation

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is when an authoritative body provides formal recognition for a type of work done by a company and its compliance to a specific standard. The following are the various standards towards which accreditation is possible.

Standards that require accreditation
Standards that require accreditation

It is therefore important to note that certification towards the above standards is not possible. Only accreditation is possible. Accreditation has to be done by the ‘National Accreditation Body’ within the country, and for Malta that is NAB. Therefore, one cannot shop around and look for various National Accreditation Bodies – but they must use the one available for their respective country.

Other services offered by the National Accreditation Body

One of the most critical elements (in terms of ISO Standards), relates to the fact that National Accreditation Bodies are the entities that issue the accreditation for certification bodies to render their services.

What is ISO Certification?

ISO Certification can be done by a certification body. And this relates to other management systems such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, and ISO 27001, amongst others.

Conclusion on ISO Certification vs ISO Accreditation

Depending on the standard that the company requires compliance to, it will need to define which process is applicable for them; whether certification or accrediation.

If the standard is listed in the image above (aptly called: Standards that require accreditation), then accreditation is required. If the standard is not within that list, then probably, certification is required.

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