News & Commentary on ISO Management System Standards

    IAF Accreditation is not possible for all ISO Standards?

    International Accreditation Forum (IAF) logo

    Only a limited number of ISO Standards qualify for an IAF logo

    We’re all familiar with ISO 9001 Certificates carrying three logos, for example, the Certification Body logo (say, Lloyds Register), the Accreditation Body logo (say, UKAS) and the IAF logo. But the IAF logo doesn’t appear on every Certificate. Why is that? And is it significant?

    Only standards formally endorsed by IAF – the International Accreditation Forum - under their IAF Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA) can enjoy worldwide recognition. Accreditation for other standards, even though granted by the same Accreditation Boards, does not have international recognition.

    Who are the IAF?

    The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) is an international association of accreditation bodies that deal with assessing the conformity of management systems to accepted standards.

    There are 102 IAF Members and Signatories at present.

    Accreditation body members of IAF are admitted to the MLA only after a stringent evaluation of their operations by a peer evaluation team. It is the responsibility of this team to assess that the applicant member complies fully with both the international standards and IAF guidelines.

    Each accreditation body that is a signatory to the IAF MLA commits to:

    • Maintain conformity with the current version of ISO/IEC 17011 Conformity assessment - General requirements for bodies providing assessment and accreditation of conformity assessment bodies and supplementary requirements documents, and
    • Recognise the competence and impartiality of accreditations of Conformity Assessment Bodies (a.k.a. Certification Bodies) by all other members of the MLA.


    What is the IAF for?

    The primary purpose of IAF is two-fold.

    Firstly, to ensure that its accreditation body members only accredit bodies (i.e. certification bodies) that are competent to do the work they undertake and are not subject to conflicts of interest.

    The second purpose of the IAF is to establish mutual recognition arrangements, known as Multilateral Recognition Arrangements (MLA), between its accreditation body members which reduces risk to business and its customers by ensuring that an accredited certificate may be relied upon anywhere in the world. The MLA also contributes to the freedom of world trade by eliminating technical barriers to trade.

    Regional Accreditation Groups

    Note 1: There’s added, and unnecessary, confusion about Regional Accreditation Groups. The IAF MLA has been structured to build on existing and developing regional MLAs established around the world. IAF has granted Special Recognition to the MLA programs of five Regional Accreditation Groups…

    • the African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC),
    • the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation Incorporated (APAC),
    • the ARAB Accreditation Cooperation (ARAC),
    • the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA) and
    • the InterAmerican Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC).

    Membership of the IAF MLA is recognised as being satisfied by the membership of any of the above MLAs for recognised programs. Therefore, you may see the logos of these organizations also on ISO Certificates – four logos in total.


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    What is the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation?

    Note 2: The IAF has a sister organization, the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). The IAF is active in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programmes of conformity assessment, while the ILAC operates in the field of laboratory and inspection accreditation. Attempts are being made to unify the two organizations.

    What ISO Standards does the IAF endorse?

    The list of IAF endorsed normative documents for management systems is currently (August 2020) limited to seven:

    • ISO 9001 - Quality management systems - Requirements
    • ISO 14001 - Environmental management systems - Requirements with guidance for use
    • ISO 22000 - Food safety management systems - Requirements for any organization in the food chain
    • ISO 27001 - Information technology - Security techniques – Information security management systems – Requirements
    • ISO 13485 - Medical devices – Quality management systems – Requirements for regulatory purposes
    • ISO 45001 Occupational health and safety management systems — Requirements with guidance for use
    • ISO 50001 Energy management systems -- Requirements with guidance for use

    It is interesting to note that for ISO 13485 Certificates, the inclusion of the IAF logo, in addition to the logos of the certification body and of the accreditation board, was first permitted in 2015. Since then the IAF has encouraged the addition of their logo to all Certificates where applicable.

    How to Deal with Scope of Accreditation Issues?

    In granting a Certification Body accreditation for an IAF endorsed Standard, Accreditation Bodies limit the scope of the accreditation to those economic sectors where they, the Accreditation Body, consider competence has been demonstrated.

    It is demanding and expensive for Certification Bodies to maintain a broad range of scope unless they have the business to justify the expenditure.  If your Certification Body's Scope of Accreditation doesn't cover your economic sector, talk to them about it.  They may be very pleased to extend their scope to satisfy your need. 

    Do you need to have the IAF logo?

    Two situations need to be considered, the first relates to your relationship with your Customers and the second to your relationship with your Suppliers.

    For your Customers, the presence of an IAF logo significantly adds to the prestige of the ISO Certificate you offer, and this is particularly important when negotiating with potential customers, especially international ones. The best practical approach is to seek out a Certification Body for your business that can provide accredited certification with IAF endorsement.

    As for your Suppliers, if the ISO Certificates offered do not carry an IAF logo, you should always ask why. If you cannot be provided with a rational explanation, or if the response to your question is a glazed look, move on and get yourself another Supplier who can provide ISO Certificates with all three logos – the real deal!

    For more information

    See the complete body of information on the IAF website or see our full suite of ISO auditor courses for comparison.

    Choose from our ISO Auditor Courses


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    Written by Dr John FitzGerald

    Director & Founder of deGRANDSON Global. Spent 15 years in the manufacturing industry and 25 years training, consulting & auditing management systems
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