ISO Accreditation Vs. ISO Certification: How Are They Different And What Do They Accomplish?


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) awards about 20,000 standards for certifying individuals and businesses. While management standards  ̶  such as the ISO 9001: 2015  ̶  are very popular, they are not the only type of standard set by the ISO. In fact, the ISO has standards for certification bodies that certify businesses. In short, ISO accreditation allows entities to offer certification audits to businesses. This blog will explain both accreditation and certification under ISO in detail.

ISO Certification

Certifications are acknowledgments that a business complies with the standard set for a certain certification. For example, the ISO 9001 certification is aimed at quality management systems and provides a comprehensive set of standards for businesses that want to be recognized for their quality products or services.

Why Are Certifications Important?

In an increasingly complex global economy, businesses are looking for newer audiences to open their services to, which sometimes means breaking into international markets. However, the way business is conducted overseas may be different from their home country. How does the global market allow it to compete on a larger platform?

This is where ISO standards come in. These are internationally recognized standards set by experts in relevant fields whose aim is to unify and regulate the services of businesses in a sector.

For example, the ISO 14001 certification creates standards for environmental management for businesses whose industries have a huge carbon footprint. If a business introduces policies that meet ISO standards and encourage sustainability, they get exposed to a wider audience, such as conscious consumers.

environmental management

How To Get ISO Certified

To get ISO certified, businesses have to decide on a standard that is relevant to their business  ̶  for example, ISO 13485 certification for medical device manufacturers  ̶  and implement a system that meets the standard. This may include switching older systems for efficient ones, documenting new policies, troubleshooting gaps in standards, ensuring consistent service, etc.

After a system is implemented successfully, an ISO-recognized auditing body is approached by the business. The auditors analyze whether the company checks all boxes of the ISO-determined standards and, upon compliance, award a certificate. This certification then becomes a part of the branding.

ISO Accreditation

The ISO-recognized auditing bodies in the previous section are the ones that audit and issue certificates to companies. However, to be able to audit and judge compliance, the said bodies also need to meet certain standards. For example, ISO 17021 is a standard that validates the competence and unbiasedness of an awarding body. ISO accreditation is meant to recognize companies that can audit and award certificates recognizable by the ISO.

Why Are Accreditations Important?

Without accreditation, a body’s certification for businesses holds no meaning. Companies that aim to get certified must do so by ISO-recognized auditors. Certifications from unrecognized accreditors  ̶  regardless of the accuracy  ̶  will not hold up in any situation where a certification matters. To have a certification that is recognized everywhere and open alleys of revenue for the company, certification from an ISO-accredited body is necessary.

How To Get Accredited

Two people working on computers.

The process for ISO accreditation is more or less similar to ISO certification. The main goal is to meet an ISO standard such as 17021. The difference is that these bodies need to be licensed instead of certified to perform audits. Usually, countries have single accrediting bodies that may license multiple auditing bodies.

To identify whether an auditor is ISO-recognized, inquire from the accrediting body operating in the country your business is registered in. Watch out for fake accrediting bodies by remembering there is only a single one in any country. The accreditors have a comprehensive list of recognized certification bodies. Make sure that the auditors you have chosen are accredited by this body.

People discussing and shaking hands

ISO Accreditation Vs. ISO Certification: What Should You Get?

Now that we understand the difference between the two, it is not hard to hard to determine which of the two is more suitable for your business. There are only a select few business sectors that will opt for ISO accreditation. Financiers, auditors, and management solutions experts are among those entities that may benefit from accreditation. ISO certification is relevant to and sought by a larger number of businesses.

Get ISO Certifications From ISO Accredited Bodies

If your business is seeking certification from an ISO-approved certifying body, we are an auditing firm that offers ISO 9001, 13485, 14001, and 45001 registration services to businesses in the United States and other parts of the world.

Our company only considers ISO standards for certifications and doesn’t have a quota for nonconformity, ensuring an honest and smooth process of certification. Get in touch with us to get an ISO certification.

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