ISO Certification vs ISO Accreditation – Meaning and Difference

ISO Accreditation

ISO has played a huge role in the changing practices of businesses. With the publication of thousands of quality standards, covering various industries and sectors, the International Organization for Standardization has raised the value of quality in production, operations, and management. Business organizations today, have understood the relevance of ISO certifications. They have realized that the attainment and implementation of quality standards can improve internal efficiency and increase credibility among customers. 

Quality standards and accreditation are the pillars of a stronger business foundation. While companies know all about the vitality of obtaining ISO standards, things can get tricky when it comes to differentiating between certifications and accreditation. Companies might get confused between which route to take, certification or accreditation or are they both the same or is there any difference? With this blog, we will help you in clearing out this dilemma.

ISO Certification vs ISO Accreditation

ISO certifications and ISO accreditation are often used mistakenly. Since both are credential authorities, processes in both the systems are quite similar. Therefore companies often think that the significance of these terms is also the same. But certifications and accreditation stand as separate terms. 

ISO certifications are a written assurance given to companies, after the conformity of the quality standards and regulations published by the ISO. Whereas ISO accreditation is given to certification as well as inspection bodies, as a written assurance of their competence to issue certificates. In simple words, companies get certified and certification bodies get accredited. 

Every country has an accreditation body that carries the process of accreditation. And, every country has multiple certification/inspection bodies to carry and perform the process of ISO certification issuance. 

The essence here is this, for a company or business entity, ISO certification is a third-party confirmation of the company’s quality operations and systems. While ISO accreditation is a third-party validation of the certifications issued by certification bodies. 

What is ISO Certification?

The International Organization for Standardization is a global body that develops quality standards. The institution does not issue certifications to companies. ISO certifications are granted to businesses by certification bodies. There are many listed certification/inspection bodies in each country that work as a third-party in the evaluation and issuance of certifications. The certification bodies need to be accredited by the accreditation body to be able to get credibility and approval. Moreover, these certification bodies also perform quality audits of business organizations. 

ISO certification is given to companies that comply with the quality standards developed by the ISO. After inspecting the company’s processes and systems, the certification body provides the company with the relevant ISO certifications. Certifications act as a seal of approval for business operations to endorse their quality-oriented production and operations. They stand as a tool for the customers to trust on the company’s products and services.

What is ISO Accreditation?

ISO accreditation is a legal validation provided to certification bodies by an accreditation body. Accreditation is a formal recognition to certification/inspection bodies of their competency to perform quality audits and issue ISO certifications.

For every country, there is an accreditation body that assesses the certification bodies and certifies ISO accreditation on the conformity of the accreditation standards. ISO accreditation to certification/inspection bodies in India is issued by an authorized accreditation body, NABCB (The National Accreditation Body for Certification Bodies Accreditation). 

In simple words, for certification bodies to perform certification audits and issue certifications to companies, they require to have a license. This license is called ISO accreditation. Accreditation bodies are required to obtain ISO 17011, a standard defining the process of accreditation. There are certain accreditation standards that are formed, which work as guidelines in the process of accreditation. All accreditation standards incorporate the fundamentals of quality management systems, similar to those found in the ISO 9001 Quality Management System Standard. This inclusion in accredited certification makes them more credible. 

Connection Between ISO Certification and ISO Accreditation

Since the focus of businesses today has completely shifted from mass production to quality production, more heed is being paid to the attainment of ISO certification and accreditation. In such a case, knowing the difference between ISO certification and ISO accreditation proves to be very useful. 

ISO certification and ISO accreditation are two different terms, certainly having differences in meanings and applications. But they are very much connected. ISO accreditation gives legal approval to certification/inspection bodies to perform the inspection process. The accredited certification bodies then give ISO certification to companies. Having obtained an ISO-accredited certification from an accredited certification body gives companies an edge over a non-accredited certified company. Apart from that, when an organization is certified from an accredited certification body, it boosts the trustworthiness of its processes, products, and services, even more.

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