Choosing a Certification Body
Should you decide to pursue ISO certification for your management system, you will need to choose a certification body. The hierarchy of governance and oversight is an often misunderstood concept when it comes to ISO certification and there are some important things to know when choosing a certification body for your ISO certification.
A certification body is normally a limited company like any other that offers a selection of services, in this case, ISO certification of your management system. The certification body will develop their internal systems and processes for delivering ISO certification services; including the auditing approach, governance, competance requirements of auditors, along with many other essential elements. Once these are in place, the certification body will seek customers and start delivering their ISO certification programmes.
It is important at this time to note the following; a company offering certification services is not mandated through any legislation or regulation to themselves be accredited for delivering ISO certification. This is something many elect to do, but some do not. Be aware of this in your selection of a certification body.
Another important thing to note is that once a certification body is accredited for a particular standard, there is a limit place on this accreditation called the scope of accreditation. This means that they may be accredited for ISO certificaiton to a particular sector, but not another. The scope will be stated on their accreditation certificate.
Now that we know there are accredited and non-accredited certification bodies, we can make a more informed decision in our selection of the certification body that best suits our requirements.
Accreditation vs Certification vs Registration
- Accreditation = what an accreditation body offers certification bodies
- Certification / Registration = what a certification body offers companies (most commonly referred to as registration in the US and as certification elsewhere)
*Companies should not refer to their ISO certification as accreditation.
Hierarchy of Governance
Globally, Accreditation Boards are responsible for the accreditation and subsequent monitoring and auditing of certification bodies, along with others such as laboratories and reference material producers, etc, but we will stick with certification bodies for our current purposes.
In Ireland, the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) is the national body with responsibility for accreditation in accordance with the relevant International Organisation for Standardisation ISO 17000 series of standards and guides.
INAB provide accreditation to certification bodies operating in Ireland who in turn offer certification services to companies who wish to claim compliance to an ISO standard.
INAB’s co-operation with other accreditation bodies in Europe and globally through Multilateral Agreements (MLAs) means that certificates issued by INAB accredited organisations are recognised internationally. Accreditation by INAB provides organisations and their customers with confidence in the product or service being offered.
In turn, certification bodies that have their accreditation through an accreditation body outside of Ireland but operating within Ireland will have the same level of scrutiny and as one accreditation by INAB.
As discussed above, INAB accredit certification bodies in Ireland. You can access the current list of accredited certification bodies on their website HERE. An extract of this page is available below.
In the UK, UKAS are responsible for accreditation of certification bodies, many of whom operate in Ireland also. You can access the current list of accredited certification bodies on their website HERE.