Accredited vs Unaccredited Certificates

It is very important that organizations understand the difference between accredited and unaccredited certificates.

What does it mean to be an Accredited Certification Body?
To be recognized as an accredited certification body the organization must demonstrate conformance to all requirements of ISO/IEC 17021-1. The certification body must be assessed against this standard on a regular basis as well as any other applicable scheme requirements, by an accreditation body that is recognized by the IAF Multilateral Recognition Agreement. The IAF MLA ensures the accreditation bodies, have been evaluated by peers as competent, sign arrangements that enhance the acceptance of products and services across national borders, and thereby creates a framework to support international trade through the removal of technical barriers.

Unaccredited certification bodies may or may not operate according to industry requirements. They may offer a certificate without an audit or without real understanding of an organization’s processes. They have no oversight or regulation on their own operations. The value of this type of certificate is minimal and cannot provide any confidence that the requirements of a standard are being met and therefore have no national or international acceptance.

What To Look For In An Accredited Certificate

How To Determine if a Certificate is Accredited

Accredited certificates will carry both the certification mark of the certification body and the accreditation symbol, of the accreditation body responsible for accrediting the CB. In addition, to take advantage of the full benefits explained above such as flexibility in transferring the certificate, it’s important to look for the IAF logo MLA Mark (when applicable)  on the certificate.


Here’s a few things to keep in mind for organizations seeking certification:

  • Consider the standard/s your organization are interested in seeking certification for.
  •  Look for certification bodies (in the IAAR directory) that are accredited for the standards.
  • Confirm with the prospective certification body that they are accredited, and if so, by what accreditation body.
  • Check on the IAF Web site if that accreditation body is a “IAF MLA Signatory Member”.
  • Ask the certification body for its “Accreditation Certificate” – this will give you extra assurance that the information shared with you is accurate.
  • Contact various stakeholders in the conformity assessment governance model to confirm. Feel free to contact IAAR and we’ll support you in your search. All our members are accredited by an IAF-signatory accreditation bodies.