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Accreditation vs Certification

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The terms accreditation and certification are frequently used interchangeably, and this can cause some confusion for businesses who are learning about quality management systems. However,  the difference between the two can be easily explained.  

Certification is the provision by an independent body of written assurance (a certificate) that the product, service or system in question meets specific requirement as stipulated in a recognised standard or scheme, such as ISO:9001 Quality Management Systems.  

We have recently helped a number of organisations secure ISO:9001 certifications, which you can read about here 

In a nutshell, accreditation is the formal recognition by an independent body that a certification operates according to international standards. It involves the ability to demonstrate technical competence that elevates the standards to a level above non-accredited certification. 


What is certification? 

The primary significance of a certification is that it involves a third-party confirmation via a systems or product audit. Certification bodies are ‘the checkers’ and must demonstrate their competence, impartiality and integrity to the National Accreditation Body, in order to become an accredited certification.  

Types of certifications we can help with include:  

ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems 

ISO 45001:2015 Occupational Health and Safety  

ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems 


What is accreditation? 

This involves the independent third-party endorsement of the certification. The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the national body for the UK., It is involved in assessing organisations that provide testing, inspection, calibration and certification services – otherwise known as conformity assessment bodies.  

Accreditations are received for specific activities, whereas certifications relate to the company as a whole.  

It is worth noting that only certification bodies can refer to themselves as ‘accredited’, whereas successfully audited organisations hold ‘certification’. If the certification body has been accredited by an organisation like UKAS to audit for a particular activity, the successfully audited orgniastion can refer to themselves as holding an ‘accredited certification’.  


We work closely with Managing Directors to develop their quality management system and ensure compliance through regular meetings that allows us to understand the business activities fully as well as targets and objectives needed to develop specific policies, procedures and operational forms. 

Get in touch to find out how we can help your business today, or call us on 01792 323404.  

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