The Biggest Risks You Might Not Be Aware of When Choosing ISO Certification Bodies

a goldfish wearing a plastic dorsal fin

You could be forgiven for thinking that all ISO certification bodies on the market are much of a muchness. But it’s far from the case. And it can be a major cause of confusion if you’re new to the world of ISO.

The thing is that not all ISO certification bodies are UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited. But this doesn’t automatically mean that non-UKAS accredited certification bodies are all charlatans – which can make choosing a certification body even more bewildering.

So, in this article, we’re going to lift the lid on the differences between UKAS and non-UKAS certification bodies. Plus, how choosing the right one for your business doesn’t have to be a nail-biting ordeal once you’re forearmed and forewarned.

What’s the Difference Between UKAS and non-UKAS Certification Bodies?

A key difference between UKAS and non-UKAS certification bodies is official recognition and credibility.

After all, UKAS is the UK’s sole accreditation body. And it’s the only one that’s recognised by the UK government for assessing ISO certification bodies.

In short, you know you’re getting the real deal when you appoint a UKAS accredited certification body. But it’s the non-UKAS certification bodies that you need to look out for. And it can be challenging to sort the wheat from the chaff, because –

  1. ISO certification bodies don’t have to be UKAS accredited
  2. A lack of UKAS certification doesn’t necessarily equate to anything sinister, but it can lead to gigantic unnecessary problems further down the line. This is because your clients won’t recognise non-UKAS certificates. It can and does happen that companies ‘achieve’ certification (non-UKAS) in good faith, but their clients don’t recognise it. So, they’ve lost the contract.

It’s important to note that non-UKAS certification bodies might have their own sets of rules. And their rules might not correspond with the requirements of the global body for conformity assessment and accreditation, which is called the IAF, (International Accreditation Forum).

As a result, the potential outcomes of working with a non-UKAS certification body are many and varied, to the extent that it’s not worth entertaining them.

a grey folder on a desk with the word certification on the front surrounded by letters plants a calculator and a notebook and pen.

What are the Potential Upshots of Using Non-Accredited ISO Certification Bodies?

Imagine putting all the work in, only to discover that what you’ve ended up with is, in effect, the equivalent of a paid for peerage or a meaningless ‘sham’ qualification. You’ve got a piece of paper. But it doesn’t mean much – or anything – to the accreditation bodies, or to your existing and prospective clients. 

Unfortunately, getting ISO ‘certified’ by non-UKAS accredited ISO certification bodies can set all sorts of negative impacts in motion, for example –

  • Reduced new business potential – Procurement teams might push back on you when you’re tendering for new business, because they don’t recognise your ‘certification’.
  • Wasted time and money – You might find yourself having to invest even more time and money on backtracking and starting again with a UKAS accredited body, despite all the time, energy and resources you’ve already put in.
  • Reputational damage – It might be the case that existing clients are doing business with you on the premise that you’re ISO certified. The loss of reputation – and money – should they find out and feel duped, doesn’t bear thinking about.  

How To Spot and Avoid Non-Accredited ISO Certification Bodies?

It’s a tell-tale sign that ISO consultants can’t double up as ISO certification bodies. This sounds counterintuitive and it probably catches out many perfectly credible businesses. But ISO certification doesn’t work like that. It has to be grounded in impartiality, without any vested interest.

That said, if you’ve got a great relationship with an ISO consultant, you’d be missing a trick not to tap in to their expertise. They might be able to refer you to UKAS accredited ISO certification bodies.

In addition, UKAS itself launched its online tool in May 2022. It enables you to search and verify potential ISO certification bodies with UKAS accreditation. Additionally, it also gives you complete peace of mind when you’re looking for potential certification bodies to work with.

You have the peace of mind that Brookfields Consultancy is recommended by the major UKAS accredited certification bodies. We don’t have any dealings with or endorse non-UKAS certification bodies.

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