What is an ISO Accreditation & How is it Different from the ISO Certification?

The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) designs a lot of standards that are globally known and are achieved by businesses, governmental organizations, as well as non-profit institutions. The standards are related to the crucial management aspects of an organization or business such as ISO 9001 for quality management, ISO 45001 for workplace safety management, ISO 27001 which is related to data security management, and many more. However, many businesses get confused about the two terms i.e., ISO certification and accreditation. While they are used by many in similar meaning, there is a sharp difference between the two terminologies. Read the following section to learn about what an ISO accreditation is and how it is different from the certification.

What is ISO Accreditation?

ISO accreditation refers to a formal declaration by a high-level authoritative body about the competence of your management system or work processes. The accreditation standards provide the basic principles of the Quality Management System (QMS) and so include the principles underlined by the popular ISO 9001 standard. To get accredited, an organization must follow the principles of an ISO standard and meet all its requirements and that has to be verified by an authoritative body through an accreditation process.
Therefore, accreditation is the approval of an ISO standard for a company by a third-party body.

ISO Accreditation Vs Certification

This section will outline the key differences between accreditation and certification in some brief points.


ISO accreditation, as said earlier, is the formal approval of the competence of an organization and its adherence to an ISO standard by a recognized and authoritative third-party body.

In contrast to this, ISO certification is the documented assurance by a certification body or agency that the products, services, or processes of a business conform to the specific regulations of an ISO standard.

Thus, accreditation is the third-party endorsement of the ISO standards whereas certification is the third-party endorsement of the business’s products, services, or processes.


The process of accreditation involves the assessment of your organization’s competence by an authorized third party. The assessment must be totally impartial and that is why a third party must do it. The officials from the body will assess your organization’s work processes and check whether everything is compliant with a given ISO standard, such as ISO 17025 which is accreditation for testing laboratories.

In the case of accreditation, the compliance with a standard is highly specific. For instance, if your testing laboratory is accredited with a standard, it means its procedures are good enough for the samples that it tests presently. It does not mean that the laboratory is also competent to test some new items or samples in future. In that case, it should again notify the accreditation body and get a fresh accreditation.

The process of certification is a formal confirmation by a third-party certification body that your organization’s products, processes or management system complies with the underlined regulations of a standard. To confirm that, the body will perform a thorough on-site audit of your organization and will also review the documents that are related to your processes, products or services. Through the audits, they will make sure whether all requirements or regulations of the standards are met and if they are met, they will reward the certification to the organization.


Now the main question that arises is who or what can be accredited and what can be certified? The answer is not that tough if you understand the difference between the two concepts. The testing, calibration, inspection, product evaluation, review and even certification bodies that perform quality checkups on other organizations to confirm their compliance with relevant standards/regulations, need to be accredited.

On the other hand, certification can be achieved by any business, organization or an individual that provides products or services. It is required by them to prove their compliance with regulations of a globally recognized standard. However, it does not necessarily imply implementation of any additional controls in the processes of the business.

Final Words

Even though the terms accreditation and certification do not hold a similar meaning, the benefits they provide to the organizations are the same. Whether an organization wants to get accredited or certified, it mainly must comply with the regulations of a given standard and that results in the benefits. It helps in the establishment of a coherent and responsive management system, improves the efficiency of operations, brings alignment in the internal processes and better management, boosts assurance of satisfaction to the customers, proves reliability of the business to the external parties and stakeholders, and improves brand image or corporate reputation.

Therefore, knowing the key conceptual differences between the two terminologies is necessary for you to understand how to achieve the standard, especially through which body or organization. Now, when you clearly know what an ISO accreditation is and what a certification is, you can decide which one you need. For more information, you can contact or talk to the ISO consultants at Compliancehelp Consulting LLC. We will be happy to help!