What guarantees of international recognition ?
"Inspected and certified once and recognised everywhere": this is the goal of all economic stakeholders who want to limit the costs of confidence without lowering the benchmark. The accreditation process fits perfectly into this perspective thanks to mutual recognition arrangements established internationally.
What do these international recognition arrangements mean?
Through these agreements, the accreditation bodies recognise the equivalence of the certificates issued by their accreditation candidates with the certificates issued by the bodies accredited by their equivalent CABs. Thus, for example, and thanks to these agreements, it is no longer necessary for a product supplier to have their products certified in each country where they wish to market them.
International recognition of accreditation therefore facilitates access to the export markets.
Recognition arrangements exist for various conformity assessment activities (tests, calibrations, inspection, product certification, etc.).
How are these agreements established and maintained?
The international recognition arrangements of interest to France are established and managed by 3 bodies:
International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC)
This organisation is involved in the mutual recognition of accreditations for laboratories, proficiency testing providers, producers of reference materials and inspection bodies, with a worldwide scope of recognition.
- International Accreditation Forum (IAF)
This global organisation is involved in the mutual recognition of certification and verification body accreditations, with a worldwide scope of recognition.
- European co-operation for Accreditation (EA)
This organisation is involved in the mutual recognition of accreditations for the same activities as ILAC and IAF, but with a European scope of recognition.
The prerequisite for the establishment of a mutual recognition arrangement is the existence of a common set of rules applicable to the accredited bodies, i.e.: identical operating requirements applicable to them, no matter what the country.
An accreditation body can become signatory of an agreement after successfully undergoing an assessment by its peers, organised by EA, ILAC or IAF, according to operating requirements that are identical for all. This assessment rule set for accreditation bodies is mainly based on international standard ISO/IEC 17011.
The accreditation bodies that are signatories to the agreements are then regularly reassessed according to these same criteria in order to be maintained within the agreement.
These peer assessments are also the opportunity for constructive exchanges that contribute to the harmonisation of accreditation practices.
To which agreements is Cofrac a signatory?
Cofrac is a signatory of recognition arrangements, at European and world level, for the following activities: calibration, tests, medical examinations, proficiency testing, inspection, certification of products and services, certification of persons, certification of companies and management systems, and verification of greenhouse gas declarations. Here you can find the:
How can you determine if a certificate established by a body accredited by Cofrac is equivalent to that of a body accredited by another accreditation body?
For the same conformity assessment operations, two certificates are equivalent under the following two conditions:
The certificates are issued under accreditation, i.e.: they bear the accreditation mark or include a textual reference to the accreditation for the activity in question.
- Cofrac and the other accreditation body are both signatories of the recognition arrangement for the activity in question.
The accreditation marks of Cofrac are listed in document GEN REF 11. Likewise, the accreditation marks of accreditation bodies that are Cofrac's equivalents can be identified on the websites of these bodies.
Take care not to confuse the accreditation body's logo with its accreditation marks. The accreditation marks are normally associated with the name of the activity (e.g., inspection), or with the corresponding accreditation standard (e.g., ISO/IEC 17020).
For signatory accreditation bodies of the ILAC and IAF agreements, their accreditation candidates have the possibility under certain conditions of endorsing their product certificates under accreditation with the ILAC MRA and IAF MRA marks, which facilitates identification of the international recognition of the certificates, even if the use of these marks is not necessary for ensuring equivalence.
NB: the agreements testify to the recognition of equivalence by the national accreditation bodies. They are not necessarily binding on the authorities of the countries, in particular outside of Europe.