ISO Accreditation vs Certification: What’s the Difference?

Kate Onissiphorou

by Kate Onissiphorou

7th September 2022

Although ISO accreditation and ISO certification may seem interchangeable, they’re two distinct concepts. Accreditation is a formal recognition of competency that’s awarded by an authorised body, while certification refers to a written assurance by a third party.

If a business is awarded ISO certification, it means it has met specific ISO standards. This certification is provided by a third party certification organisation; ISO itself does not issue certifications. There are hundreds of ISO certification organisations around the world. These are legally independent private businesses. 

A company or organisation that has an ISO accreditation has the authority to assess whether other companies are meeting certain standards. These organisations can then issue certifications.

What is accreditation? Documents and a blue folder labelled with ISO 9001

In general, an accreditation involves an authoritative body, which can either be a government agency or a private institution. It’s a type of formal recognition or legitimation of a particular company or organisation in terms of its level of competence in operating based on certain standards.

ISO accreditation includes the family of quality management systems such as the globally recognised ISO 9001 QMS standard. Accredited companies are able to demonstrate a high level of technical competence in a particular accredited aspect.

An accredited organisation may also act on behalf of the accrediting body to perform certain tasks or duties. These may include awarding ISO certifications based on rigorous inspections, quality testing, and benchmarking.

What is certification? Red rubber stamp of ISO certification

As the name implies, certification involves a formal document or certificate that’s awarded by a third party. Put simply, it’s a written assurance that the organisation or company being certified has conformed with the prescribed standards. A certification can relate to goods (tangible products), a process, or a particular service.

Essentially, a certification is a formal public endorsement of an organisation’s systems or products by a credible independent third party. In a way, certification is like an award that’s given by a prestigious body to a deserving laureate.

Find out more about the ways in which an ISO certification can benefit your business here.

ISO accreditation vs certification

Although the terms ISO accreditation and certification are sometimes used interchangeably, they are two distinct concepts. The former involves an authoritative body that provides the recognition, while the other is a formal written assurance of compliance with quality standards. Table showing the difference between certification and accreditation

Summary: The difference between ISO accreditation & certification

ISO provides the accreditation to other organisations that are qualified to conduct inspections, testing, and quality assurance. It does not directly issue certifications itself. Rather, these certifications are awarded by independent third-party legal entities, which are accredited organisations.

ReAgent’s ISO certifications

ReAgent currently holds four ISO accreditations: 

  • ISO 9001 for quality management
  • The ISO 14001 environmental certification
  • ISO 13485 for quality management systems relating to medical devices
  • ISO 45001 for occupational health and safety

    ReAgent workers in the factory

    ReAgent holds multiple ISO certifications to demonstrate our commitment to high quality standards

If you’d like any further information about our ISO certifications, please contact our friendly team.

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