Certification is not a requirement of any of ISO's management system standards. This section provides a basic understanding of what certification and related terms mean.
Certification, registration and accreditation
In the context of ISO 9001:2000 (and ISO 9001:2008) or ISO 14001:2004, “certification” refers to the issuing of written assurance (the certificate) by an independent external body that it has audited a management system and verified that it conforms to the requirements specified in the standard.
“Registration” means that the auditing body then records the certification in its client register. So, the organization’s management system has been both certified and registered.
Therefore, in the ISO 9001:2000 (and ISO 9001:2008) or ISO 14001:2004 context, the difference between the two terms is not significant and both are acceptable for general use. “Certification” is the term most widely used worldwide, although registration is often preferred in North America, and the two are used interchangeably.
On the contrary, using “accreditation” as an interchangeable alternative for certification or registration is a mistake, because it means something different.
In the ISO 9001:2000 (and ISO 9001:2008) or ISO 14001:2004 context, accreditation refers to the formal recognition by a specialized body – an accreditation body – that a certification body is competent to carry out ISO 9001:2000 (and ISO 9001:2008) or ISO 14001:2004 certification in specified business sectors.
In simple terms, accreditation is like certification of the certification body. Certificates issued by accredited certification bodies may be perceived on the market as having increased credibility.