Who is Eligible to Grant ISO Certification and/or Accreditation?

So, who is eligible to grant ISO certification and/or accreditation? Many people assume that ISO (International Organization for Standardization) grants certification, but in fact, this is not true.  Instead, an accredited auditor will be the one to grant certification and/or accreditation.  Depending on which standard you are being audited for, the auditor is called a Certification Body (“CB”) (for example ISO 9001 or IATF 16949), or an Accreditation Body (“AB”) (for example ISO/IEC 17025).  A CB may also be called a Registrar.  We often refer to the CB or AB on this site as a Registrar, which we intend to include both Certification Body and Accreditation Body.

When choosing a registrar you should make sure that they are accredited – meaning that they should be a member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).  They also need to be ISO/IEC 17021:2015 certified.

The ISO/IEC 17021:2015 Conformity assessment standard is called: “Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems” which in effect stipulates the requirements for Registrars who certify organizations to ISO management standards like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, etc.

ISO/IEC 17021 ensures international acceptance of the CB’s certifications (i.e. your ISO 9001:2008 certificate) by requiring that all Accreditation bodies (ANAB, etc.) belong to an internationally accredited organization, like the IAF. Likewise, the IAF ensures that CB’s comply with ISO/IEC 17021.

Some Quality System Registrars are not accredited by IAF, and thus are not meeting ISO 17021 — and will not be internationally recognized. Make sure that you choose a Registrar who is accredited by an IAF member (ANAB or the equivalent of ANAB in your country or region).

When you receive your registration certificate, it should display the ANAB and the IAF logos and unfortunately, without them, you are not officially ISO 9001 certified.


Side Note

Certification vs. Accreditation:

Most standards require certification by a Registrar or Certification Body.  But some standards provide guidance to certification bodies, and thus, a certification body must be “accredited” by an Accreditation Body.

ISO’s website defines each as follows:

“Certification – the provision by an independent body of written assurance (a certificate) that the product, service or system in question meets specific requirements.”

“Accreditation – the formal recognition by an independent body, generally known as an accreditation body, that a certification body operates according to international standards.”