IAF

(IAF) is the world association of Conformity Assessment Accreditation Bodies and other bodies interested in conformity assessment. Its primary function is to develop a single worldwide programme of conformity assessment to be used globally in order to avoid occurrence of non-tariff barriers to trade.

IAF membership is open to accreditation bodies from all over the world, industry representatives and accredited certification bodies that are obliged, through membership in this international organisation, to promote the implementation of a uniform system of multilateral agreements on mutual recognition of certificates issued by conformity assessment bodies accredited by the said accreditation bodies.

As one of the objectives, IAF is committed to promote trade activities in accordance with the WTO rules on the basis of Mutual Recognition Agreement (MLA) confirming equivalence of accreditation systems of the members through peer evaluation. This system should allow businesses to have their certificates recognised worldwide given that one of the IAF objectives is to promote international recognition of accreditations granted by the accreditation bodies of the IAF members through the recognition of equivalence of their accreditation systems. All IAF members adopt common policies and procedures in order to facilitate free movement of goods, services, people and capital in accordance with the World Trade Organisation's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.

Therefore, IAF motto reads as follows "certified once, accepted everywhere".

The IAF MLA is structured in five levels:

Level 1 - ISO/IEC 17011, specifies mandatory criteria that apply to all accreditation bodies (ABs).

Level 2 - Accreditation Activities, in which the AB has demonstrated competence to perform accreditation as specified by the IAF endorsed generic accreditation normative documents listed in Level 3. IAF MLA accreditation activities are:

  • Management system certification
  • Product certification
  • Certification of persons

Level 3 - IAF endorsed generic accreditation normative document used by the AB to assess the Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) competence for each accreditation activity. For example:

  • For management system certification - ISO/IEC 17021
  • For product certification - ISO/IEC 17065
  • For certification of persons - ISO/IEC 17024

Level 4 - IAF endorsed sector specific normative documents which specify internationally recognised applications of the generic normative document listed in Level 3. The documents are used by the AB, in combination with the generic normative document listed in Level 3 to assess the CAB competence in the relevant sector. For example:

(a) Normative document to be used in combination with ISO/IEC 17021:

  • For certification of food safety management systems (FSMS) - ISO/TS 22003
  • For certification of information security management systems (ISMS) - ISO/IEC 27006

(b) Normative documents to be used in combination with ISO/IEC 17065:

  • None currently endorsed

(c) Normative documents to be used in combination with ISO/IEC 17024:

  • None currently endorsed

Level 5 - IAF endorsed conformity assessment normative document used by CABs. For example:
(a) Normative document used by Management System Certification Bodies

  • For certification of Quality Management Systems (QMS) - ISO 9001
  • For certification of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) - ISO 14001
  • For certification of Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) - ISO 22000
  • For certification of Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) - ISO/IEC 27001

(b) Normative document used by Product Certification Bodies:

  • None currently endorsed

(c) Normative document used by Personnel Certification Bodies:

  • None currently endorsed

The combination of a Level 2 activity and the Level 3 relevant normative document is called a main scope of the MLA. The attestations made by CABs where the MLA is at the main scope level are considered to be equally reliable. Level 4 and Level 5 do not exist for all main scopes. Level 4 and Level 5 are called the sub-scopes of the MLA. The attestations made by CABs where the MLA is at the sub-scope level are considered to be equivalent.

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