What is Certification

The declaration of quality

Accredited certifications ensure the conformity of systems, processes, products, services and persons with the requirements of the international standards.

Certifications ensure the respect on the part of professionals, businesses and public organizations of the requirements of the standards regarding the conformity of products, services, processes, systems or persons.

Certifications are issued in many sectors by an accredited third party body in accordance with the standards ISO/IEC 17065, ISO/IEC 17021-1, ISO/IEC 17024, whose independence with respect to the certified object – product, service, organization or person – is verified and attested by an Accreditation Body.

Management system certification bodies may undertake conformity assessments in all the sectors for which they are accredited in compliance with ISO/IEC 17021-1.

The typologies

Accredited certifications can be issued in compliance with the standards specified in technical documents according to the following typologies:


Ensuring that the management system implemented by the organization, public or private and in every sector, is in conformity with the applicable standards (e.g. the international standards ISO 9000 for quality, ISO 14001 for the environment and ISO 22000 for food safety).

The system may regard quality management, environmental issues, the sustainability of events, workplace health and safety, information and IT security, energy, safety of the supply chain, business continuity and food safety.

For a company the attainment of certification means making its management system effective and efficient – a tool for innovation in company organization. Holding a certificate for the management system gives a company standing, credibility, market trust and grants it an advantage over competitors as well as access to the regulated markets and to competitive tenders.


This regards goods, services or a production process. Conformity assessment regards only some of the characteristics of the object, in particular those contained in the standard or reference technical specification. With the assessment of the manufacturing process or the providing of a service, a positive judgment is given together with lasting trust in conformity.

Through possession of the certificate, the producer or supplier can demonstrate to the market the capacity to obtain and retain the conformity of the product or of the service. To this end, the conformity mark is placed in the appropriate position, either on the product or on other supports.


This attests the possession and maintenance of the competences which give suitability to professionals to undertake their activities. The certificate of conformity is a formal recognition on the part of an independent third party, of adherence to the requirements for operating in a certain sector of activity.

The certification of professional people is a fundamental instrument in the quality creation process. It motivates professionals to make purchases, to continue to improve their competences.

Accredited certification bodies

Certifications are issued by certification bodies accredited according to the ISO/IEC 17021-1 for management systems, ISO/IEC 17065 for products and services, ISO/IEC 17024 for persons.


The image of conformity

Inspections permit the conformity of assessment of a product, service, process or system to specific requirements or, in the opinion of the assessor, to more general requirements.

Inspections undertaken by accredited CABs against ISO/IEC 17020, verify the conformity of products or services with specific or general requirements. According to the definition of inspection given in the standard, general requirements are many, variable, and cannot be checked against just one reference document. In the absence of a specific certification technique, a professional evaluation is carried out by a technician who is competent in the sector, who gives an evaluation of the conformity and declares the overall acceptability of the object of the inspection.

The inspection is a kind of photograph of the status of conformity of a design, product, service system or process at a given moment in time. Clearly, it is possible to programme another audit at a future date.

Inspection activities regard a multiplicity of sectors – from construction to agriculture. It may be required by the producer, by the client, the user or by competent authorities. It takes place according to parameters of quantity, quality, safety or fulfillment of the scope, taking into consideration the conformity over time of machinery or the system. It may regard the entire life-cycle of the product, service, system or design.

The objectives

An inspection performed by an accredited inspection body gathers information on the status of conformity at a given moment. It can include controls, product measurements or tests, document exams, the comparison of results against the requirements or sector best practices.

In a broader context, an inspection audit may be used as a surveillance activity in a product certification scheme, coming before maintenance; or it may provide information with respect to the item inspected, without any declaration of conformity.

In some cases an inspection audit may overlap with a test or certification audit, but what distinguishes it is the possibility – which often occurs – of receiving a professional opinion from the inspector of the acceptability of the inspected item against the general requirements. The CAB must have the necessary competences to do this.

Inspection bodies

Inspection bodies are classified as belonging to Type A, Type B or Type C, depending upon the extent of their independence. Demonstrable independence can strengthen trust among clients in the body’s ability to perform impartial audits.


Third party bodies which are totally independent of the inspected item.


First and/or second party bodies, separate and identifiable, of a parent organization, active in designing, maintaining, marketing, installing and using the inspected item.


First and/or second party bodies, which are identifiable but not necessarily separate, of a parent organization active in designing, maintaining, marketing, installing and using the inspected item.

Accredited inspection bodies

Inspections are performed by inspection bodies accredited according to the ISO/IEC 17020.

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