UKAS v non-UKAS ISO accreditation, which one?

With SMEs making up the largest segment of businesses in the UK, it is not surprising that the majority of enquiries we receive are from people who are approaching ISO certification for the first time. Many of the prospective clients I speak to on a daily basis often refer to themselves as “ISO Newbies” and are open about their lack of knowledge in relation to what’s involved in building a management system and having it audited or certified.

It makes sense therefore that the question of whether or not to pursue UKAS certification often comes up.

When I am asked this question, I normally ask one back – would you be happy to see a Doctor who had given himself a certificate to practice? Always the answer is no. The same answer should therefore apply when asking whether or not to pursue UKAS-accredited certification. The simple truth is that anyone can hand out an ISO Certificate – you can even award one to yourself! However, only UKAS-accredited certification bodies have been Independently assessed and approved by a Government-appointed representative and therefore can award the coveted ‘crown and tick’.

Why is the UKAS ‘Crown and Tick’ important?

Increasingly we are seeing that larger organisations insist upon UKAS-accredited ISO certification when they are putting out tenders. Indeed, the Government itself has issued a statement to say that it expects all tenders to require UKAS-accredited certification – which carries the ‘Crown and Tick’ of authenticity.

There is plenty of information widely available on the web, the UKAS website articulating the business benefits of UKAS certification. A quick Google search shows that this has been a topic of interest for a while with Mark Nutburn, the CITO from Amtivo group publishing an article entitled, “Buyer Beware: the importance of UKAS accreditation” in November 2018.

The main driver for enquiries to Equas is from businesses that are being asked by their existing customers for it or they need it for tender purposes. With UKAS being the only government appointed accreditation body in the UK then it goes without saying that we in Equas see UKAS-accredited certification as being required to ensure that an ISO management system certification is recognised by any organisation, worldwide. This cannot be said by non-UKAS accredited certificated companies. Sadly, there have been numerous small businesses that approach us for support having thought they had been certified only to find that their certification is not recognised.

In summary, if you want the comfort of knowing that your critical investment for ISO certification will be recognised, always choose the UKAS route and appoint a UKAS-accredited Certification Body. If in doubt, check the UKAS website.

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