The Difference Between ISO Accreditation and ISO Certification

ISO Accreditation and ISO Certification
Accreditation / ISO 9001 / Quality assurance

The Difference Between ISO Accreditation and ISO Certification

ISO Accreditation and ISO Certification

Both accreditation and certification are essential factors when it comes to ISO and Quality Management System.

Organizations tend to confuse the two, which results in not understanding the processes necessary for each of them.

In principle, accreditation and certification are similar, yet they differ about who does the job.

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) creates thousands of standards per year, covering various disciplines and topics.

It produces a group of standards known as management system standards to guide organizations in offering goods and services that are safe, resilient, environmentally friendly, and quality-made.

Some of the well-known standards include ISO 9001 (Quality Management) and ISO 27001 (Information Security). There’s also the ISO 22301 (Business Continuity) and ISO 14001 (Environmental). Soon, the ISO 45001 (Health and Safety) will be launched.

There are instances where organizations are obligated to implement these standards. This is where the confusion between accreditation and certification comes through.

To save your organization from this trouble, QSE Academy has created this post to explain the differences between ISO certification and ISO accreditation.

Certification and Accreditation in the Global Setting

Generally, both accreditation and certification are globally recognized. However, some regulatory bodies or clients may request an accredited certification. Meanwhile, there are times when being certified suffices.

Do note that an accredited certification body cannot offer any assistance with the ISO standard’s implementation.

Certification bodies must get a license to conduct certification audits and issue certificates. Hence, certification bodies secure their licenses through accreditation. On the other hand, companies simply get certified.

Normally, there’s only one accreditation body per country. Accreditation bodies must be compliant with the ISO 17011, which determines the process of accreditation.

ISO Accreditation vs ISO Certification

ISO certification and ISO accreditation are often used interchangeably. In some cases, they even go hand in hand.

ISO accreditation is granted to organizations for certain activities whereas ISO certification covers the company as a whole.

ISO’s website also clarified the difference between accreditation and certification. According to the website:



“The formal recognition by an independent body, generally known as an accreditation body, that a certification body operates according to international standards.”

“The provision by an independent body of written assurance (a certificate) that the product, service or system in question meets specific requirements.”

Therefore, ISO develops international standards but isn’t involved in the certification process. Also, it doesn’t issue certificates.

What is ISO Accreditation?

ISO accreditation is an authoritative body’s formal recognition of the competence to work to specified standards.

Similarly, accreditation is an independent third-party endorsement of the certification.

All accreditation standards encompass the principles of quality management systems, including those found in the ISO 9001 QMS standard.

Simply put, being ISO certified means an organization has met the requirements in the Quality Management System of a certain standard. For instance, ISO 9001 QMS.

Hence, ISO-accredited certification happens when an organization has fulfilled an ISO standard, following an accreditation process by a certification body.

What is an ISO Certification?

ISO certification means securing a written assurance from a third party. This is after proving the conformity of a process, product, or service to specified requirements.

Also, it is the third-party endorsement of the products or systems of an organization.

ISO certification includes evaluating organizations that are offering calibration, inspection, and testing, inspection services against internationally recognized standards.

Likewise, it means proving that an organization certainly complies with the relevant standard(s). However, it does not involve implementing extra controls or requirements.

Although, ISO certification includes an independent organization or a certification body to conduct an audit.

An ISO certification is conferred for three years if an organization fulfills the requirements and is recommended for certification.

Implement ISO 17025
Implement ISO 17025


What Are the Benefits of ISO Accreditation and Certification?

An organization that strived to comply with standards and get certified can reap the following benefits:

  • Easily prove compliance to clients and interested parties.
  • Being independently and globally recognized for its efforts, products, and services.
  • Boost assurance to customers.
  • Better internal management and processes.
  • Increased productivity, efficiency, and profit.
  • Guaranteed customer acquisition and retention.

Knowing the difference between ISO accreditation and ISO certification is useful information when complying with ISO standards. How they are connected and their benefits are also vital factors.

There’s a lot of confusion out there about the difference between ISO accreditation and ISO certification. In a nutshell, here’s the difference:

ISO accreditation is an independent third-party assessment of an organization’s ability to meet specific standards. For example, an organization might be accredited by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to show that it has the necessary capabilities to perform ISO audits.

ISO certification, on the other hand, is granted by an accredited certification body after an organization has been assessed and found to be in compliance with a particular standard. For instance, an organization might be certified to ISO 9001, meaning it has met all the requirements of the ISO 9001 quality management system standard.

So, in short, accreditation is needed in order to certify, but certification is not necessarily dependent on accreditation. However, many organizations choose to seek both accreditation and certification in order to demonstrate their commitment to quality and continuous improvement.

Do you have any questions about the difference between ISO accreditation and certification? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’d like to learn more about how ISO accreditation and ISO certification could impact your organization, feel free to check out our toolkits and packages. QSE Academy also has a team of expert ISO consultants who could guide you.

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Comment (1)

  1. Sarah Smith

    Thanks for the information on ISO certification. I would like to get an ISO training set up for my team. We will start looking for one that offers self-study methods.

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