Certification bodies are always third-party impartial conformity assessment bodies that can certify product, process or services, management systems or persons. They can be owned and operated by government, industry bodies, or be separate organizations and have all a set of relevant international standards in place.
Product, process or service certification bodies
The relevant International Standards for product, process or service certification bodies, ISO/IEC 17065, sets out the following requirements:
- general requirements, including legal and contractual matters, management of impartiality, liability and financing, non-discriminatory conditions, confidentiality and publicly available information;
- structural requirements, including organizational structure and top management and a mechanism for safeguarding impartiality;
- resource requirements, including certification body personnel, resources for evaluation activities and outsourcing;
- process requirements, including application, application review , evaluation, review, certification decision, certification documentation, directory of certified products, surveillance, changes affecting certification, termination, reduction, suspension or withdrawal of certification, records, and complaints and appeals; and
- management system requirements.
One of the critical things about product, process or service certification is that it must take place in the context of a certification scheme. The certification scheme sets out the following parameters:
- product, process or service to be certified;
- the specified requirements (e.g. standards) that the product, process or service must fulfil;
- sampling criteria for the certification if required;
- types and combinations of conformity assessment techniques (e.g. audit, inspection or test) that will be used to evaluate the product, process or service;
- the process to be followed for the evaluation, review and decision;
- the mark of conformity and its control;
- activities that must be undertaken during surveillance, if any.
The relevant International Standards for product, process or service certification bodies is ISO/IEC 17065:2012, Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services.
The following standards contain guidance on how to establish and manage certification schemes for products, processes and services:
ISO/IEC 17067:2013, Conformity assessment – Fundamentals of product certification and guidelines for product certification schemes
ISO/IEC 17026, Conformity assessment — Example of a product certification scheme, contain guidance on how to establish and manage certification schemes for products, processes and services.