Environmental Management Systems – Your A – Z guide

International Accreditation Forum (IAF)

The IAF is the world association of Conformity Assessment Accreditation Bodies and other bodies interested in conformity assessment in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programmes of conformity assessment. IAF members accredit certification or registration bodies that issue certificates attesting that an organisation's management, products or personnel comply with a specified standard (called conformity assessment).

The IAF role in accreditation is twofold:

  • To ensure that its accreditation body members only accredit bodies that are competent to do the work they undertake and are not subject to conflicts of interest
  • To establish mutual recognition arrangements, known as Multilateral Recognition Arrangements (MLA), between its accreditation body members which reduces risk to business and its customers by ensuring that an accredited certificate may be relied upon anywhere in the world

Accreditation body members of IAF are admitted to the MLA only after a most stringent evaluation of their operations by a peer evaluation team which is charged to ensure that the applicant member complies fully with both the international standards and IAF requirements. Once an accreditation body is a member of the MLA it is required to recognize the certificates issued by certification/registration bodies accredited by all other members of the MLA.

IAF has granted Special Recognition to two Regional Accreditation Groups, the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) and the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA).