The route to accreditation
To guide you along the way, laid out below are the key steps in the accreditation process.
You will be able to access the support documents and information that you need at each step of your accreditation application.
Step 1: Before applying for accreditation
Am I eligible for Cofrac accreditation?
If the following conditions apply, it is probable that your body is eligible for accreditation:
The activity for which you are requesting accreditation is recognised as a conformity assessment activity (e.g., analyses, tests, calibrations, medical examinations, production of reference materials, organisation of interlaboratory comparisons (proficiency testing), inspections, certifications, verifications, etc.).
- The body is legally responsible for this activity.
- The body is based in France (including French overseas territories)*.
* Cofrac can accept applications from bodies established abroad only in compliance with Regulation EC 765/2008 and the international rules of collaboration. Contact the Quality and International Affairs Department with any questions.
What operating requirements must I satisfy?
To claim accreditation, you must satisfy the operating requirements specified in the standard corresponding to the activity targeted for accreditation, along with the corresponding rules set by Cofrac.
The requirements can be found on the page Norms & standards. You can identify the standard corresponding to your activity by consulting the list of standards & reference frameworks.
Once you have identified the standard applicable to your activity, you can obtain it from the AFNOR website (French standardisation agency).
The documents produced by Cofrac are accessible free of charge from the documentation area of our website.
How much will the accreditation process cost me?
The cost of an initial accreditation depends on various criteria (requested accreditation scope, headcount and/or volume of business of the body, number of facilities concerned, type of organisation, etc.).
In addition to these costs there are of course the costs associated with putting in place the organisation for meeting the accreditation requirements, ahead of the Cofrac assessment, and for maintaining this organisation for as long as the accreditation remains in force.
It is important to note that, for as long as the body is accredited, Cofrac will provide surveillance of the accreditation and will invoice the associated costs.
The types of operations invoiced by Cofrac and the amounts concerned are specified in the pricing documents.
Preparing for accreditation
Once you have identified the desired scope of accreditation, and the requirements associated with these activities, it is a matter of adapting, if necessary, your organisation to satisfy these requirements.
If you do not yet have a quality management system, you can be supported by a professional, bearing in mind that Cofrac cannot be involved in this regard, as it must remain independent to carry out the assessment.
It is important that the procedures put in place by the body have already been implemented so that Cofrac's assessment can determine if they are correctly applied and that operation is in compliance with the accreditation requirements.
Step 2: Submitting the accreditation application
Find the appropriate application pack.
Access the application pack corresponding to the activity targeted by your accreditation request.
Reviewing the request
Upon receipt of your application file, Cofrac will inform you of the person it has designated to manage your application, who will then be your sole point of contact.
This person will regularly inform you of the progress of your application and will ask you for any necessary additional information. This is the person you will contact for any questions concerning your accreditation application.
If the accreditation application is accepted, an agreement is signed between Cofrac and the applicant, defining the contractual framework of the assessment and the subsequent accreditation follow-up.
Step 3: Initial assessment by Cofrac
Operational admissibility review
The purpose of this review is firstly to check that the applicant has taken into account the accreditation requirements and that it is able to demonstrate this and secondly to determine how the assessment is to be carried out on site with regard to the accreditation regulations and the body's organisation.
This admissibility review may include a partial documentary assessment of the key aspects of the activity presented for accreditation, for example, validation of the conformity assessment methods or standards.
This review aims to avoid carrying out an on-site assessment that would inevitably lead to a negative decision because of missing accreditation requirements or findings that would prevent accreditation from being granted.
This is planned in agreement between the lead assessor and the candidate body, within the limits set by Cofrac.
The purpose of the on-site assessment is to enable the CAB to demonstrate its competence and the conformity of its operation to the accreditation requirements. Different techniques are deployed: review of documents and records, interviews with staff, witnessing of activities presented for accreditation, traceability audits of technical operations, etc.
At the end of the on-site assessment, the assessment team presents to the body its analysis of the organisational strengths and weaknesses, along with any findings identified against the accreditation requirements.
When findings are identified, the CAB is required to communicate to the assessment team its analysis of the situations and the action determined for processing non-conformities, under the conditions defined in the accreditation regulations. The body may also submit evidence of action.
An assessment report is submitted to Cofrac by the lead assessor within one month of the assessment's closure, and is also made available to the assessed body.
The decision concerning accreditation is made on the basis of an independent review by the assessment team. The decision-making principles are laid out in the accreditation regulations.
The body is notified of the decision by letter. The accreditation decision may be dependent on prior demonstration of findings being addressed. If accreditation is issued, the notification letter is accompanied by an accreditation certificate detailing its scope and validity period. The body is referenced in the list of accredited CABs on the Cofrac website from the following day.
Step 4: After obtaining accreditation
Promoting the accreditation
Obtaining accreditation provides the right to refer to the Cofrac accreditation, in particular on reports or certificates associated with the accredited activities.
The reference may be textual or via endorsement with the accreditation mark(s) provided by Cofrac along with the accreditation decision.
The general rules for reference to accreditation and to international recognition arrangements are defined in document GEN REF 11.
To promote your accreditation among your customers, we encourage you to use the promotional items that we make available to you in our Publications section. These items include videos and brochures to help you promote your accreditation.
Once accreditation is issued, a surveillance programme is implemented by Cofrac over the accreditation period, according to the terms laid out in the accreditation regulations.
Surveillance is carried out similarly to the initial assessment, but it is adapted according to the results of the previous assessments and the changes made within the body, in terms of resources and organisation.
Upon expiry of the accreditation certification validity period, the accreditation is renewed for a new cycle, if the reassessment is conclusive.
Throughout the accreditation cycle, the CAB has the possibility of extending the scope of its accreditation via accreditation extension applications. It may also request the voluntary suspension of accreditation for a period of up to two years.
Surveillance will be carried out for as long as the accreditation remains in force.
End of accreditation
Accreditation may be terminated for several reasons. In particular:
- The body has requested termination of the accreditation agreement.
- The body has failed to address the accreditation requirements within the required time frame.
- The body no longer conducts the activities for which accreditation was issued.
- The reference framework for the accreditation (standards, regulatory texts) has become obsolete.