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Choosing a certification body

Things to consider when choosing a certification body

NSAI recommend that when choosing a certification body to carry out certification in your organization that you take into account the following aspects.

An organization can implement many standards such as a management system e.g. ISO 9001:2008 or ISO 14001:2004 without seeking certification. The best reason for wanting to implement standards is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of company operations.

Deciding to have an independent audit of the system to confirm that it conforms to the relevant standard is a decision to be taken on business grounds: for example

  • if it is a contractual or regulatory requirement
  • if it is a market requirement or to meet customer preferences
  • if it falls within the context of a risk management programme
  • or if the organization thinks it will motivate staff by setting a clear goal for the development of its management system.

Criteria to consider include:

  • evaluate several certification bodies
  • bear in mind that the cheapest might prove to be the most costly if its auditing is below standard, or if its certificate is not recognized by the organization's customers
  • establish whether the certification body has auditors with experience in the organization's sector of activity
  • establish whether the certification body is accredited to ISO/IEC 17021:2006 Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems
  • Accreditation, in simple terms, means that a certification body has been officially approved as competent to carry out certification in specified business sectors by a national accreditation body. The Accreditation body should be a member of the International Accreditation Forum (

In most countries, accreditation is a choice, not an obligation and the fact that a certification body is not accredited does not, by itself, mean that it is not a reputable organization. 
For example, a certification body operating nationally in a highly specific sector might enjoy such a good reputation that it does not feel there is any advantage for it to go to the expense of being accredited. Many certification bodies do choose to seek accreditation, even when it is not compulsory, in order to be able to demonstrate an independent confirmation of their competence.