Accreditation of Management Systems Certification Bodies

What does a Management System Certification Body do?

A management system certification body is an organization tasked with evaluating and certifying an entity’s management systems against established standards or frameworks. These standards may include ISO standards such as ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), or ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety Management), among others. Management system certification bodies play a pivotal role in verifying the effectiveness, efficiency, and conformity of an organization’s management systems to internationally recognized standards. Through comprehensive assessments and audits, they help organizations demonstrate their commitment to continuous improvement, regulatory compliance, and customer satisfaction. Certification by a management system certification body provides assurance to stakeholders, enhances market competitiveness, and fosters trust in the organization’s ability to deliver consistent quality and performance.

Accreditation Criteria: ISO/IEC 17021-1

ISO/IEC 17021-1 is the international standard that specifies requirements for the competence, impartiality, and consistency of management system certification bodies. Accreditation to ISO/IEC 17021-1 demonstrates that a certification body has the technical competence, resources, and management system in place to conduct certification activities effectively and impartially. The standard and other complementary parts (x) to the ISO/IEC 17021-x series covers various aspects, including the qualifications and competency of personnel, the validity and reliability of audit methods, the impartiality and independence of certification decisions, and the confidentiality of client information. Accreditation to ISO/IEC 17021-1 provides assurance to stakeholders that certification bodies operate with integrity and deliver reliable and consistent certification services.

Accreditation Process


Certification bodies initiate the accreditation process by submitting an application form along with required documentation, such as quality manuals, procedures, and evidence of competence in specific management system standards.

Office Assessment

In this stage, ABA conducts an on-site assessment to evaluate the certification body’s compliance with ISO/IEC 17021-1 requirements. This assessment includes a review of documentation, interviews with personnel, and observation of audit activities.

Witness Assessment

As part of the process, ABA requires witness assessments where an ABA assessor shadows the auditor during an audit to ensure compliance with accreditation standards. This additional step reinforces our commitment to impartiality, consistency, and reliability in management system certification.


Review by Accreditation Committee

The assessment findings are reviewed by the accreditation committee, which determines whether the certification body meets the accreditation criteria. The committee may request additional information or clarification before making a decision.

Committee Decision

Based on the assessment findings and recommendations, the accreditation committee makes a decision regarding accreditation status. Accredited bodies receive a certificate and are listed on the accreditation body’s official registry.

Annual Surveillance

Accredited certification bodies undergo regular surveillance assessments to ensure ongoing compliance with accreditation requirements. These assessments may include site visits, document reviews, and interviews with personnel.

Reaccreditation at 5 Years

Accreditation is typically valid for a specified period, usually five years. To maintain accreditation, certification bodies must undergo re-accreditation at the end of this period. Reaccreditation involves a comprehensive reassessment of the certification body’s competence, management system, and compliance with ISO/IEC 17021-1 requirements.

Accreditation Scope Domains

The accreditation scope domains encompass a wide range of ISO management system standards, including:

  • ISO 9001 (Quality Management)
  • ISO 14001 (Environmental Management)
  • ISO 27001 (Information Security Management)
  • ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety Management)
  • ISO 22000 (Food Safety Management)
  • ISO 22301 (Business Continuity Management)
  • ISO 37001 (Anti-Bribery Management)
  • ISO 37301 (Compliance Management)
  • ISO 42001 (Artificial Intelligence Management Systems)
  • ISO 13485 (Medical Devices Quality Management)

Each standard represents a specific area of management system expertise and focus for certification activities, ensuring that certification bodies can effectively assess and certify organizations across diverse industries and sectors. These sectors represented below in general clusters:

  • ABA-Q1: Food
    • IAF Code: 3 (Food products, beverages, and tobacco)
  • ABA-Q2: Mechanical
    • IAF Code: 17 (Basic metals and fabricated metal products)
    • IAF Code: 18 (Machinery and equipment)
    • IAF Code: 19 (Electrical and optical equipment)
    • IAF Code: 20 (Shipbuilding)
    • IAF Code: 22 (Other transport equipment)
  • ABA-Q3: Paper
    • IAF Code: 8 (Publishing companies)
    • IAF Code: 9 (Printing companies)
  • ABA-Q4: Minerals
    • IAF Code: 2 (Mining and quarrying)
    • IAF Code: 15 (Non-metallic mineral products)
    • IAF Code: 16 (Concrete, cement, lime, plaster, etc.)
  • ABA-Q5: Construction
    • IAF Code: 28 (Construction)
  • ABA-Q6: Goods production
    • IAF Code: 4 (Textiles and textile products)
    • IAF Code: 5 (Leather and leather products)
    • IAF Code: 6 (Wood and wood products)
    • IAF Code: 14 (Rubber and plastic products)
    • IAF Code: 23 (Manufacturing not elsewhere classified)
  • ABA-Q7: Chemicals
    • IAF Code: 12 (Chemicals, chemical products, and fibers)
  • ABA-Q8: Supply
    • IAF Code: 25 (Electricity supply)
    • IAF Code: 26 (Gas supply)
    • IAF Code: 27 (Water supply)
  • ABA-Q9: Transport & Waste management
    • IAF Code: 24 (Recycling)
    • IAF Code: 31 (Transport, storage, and communication)
    • IAF Code: 39 (Other social services)
  • ABA-Q10: Services
    • IAF Code: 29 (Wholesale and retail trade; Repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles, and personal and household goods)
    • IAF Code: 32 (Financial intermediation; real estate; renting)
    • IAF Code: 33 (Information technology)
    • IAF Code: 35 (Other services)
    • IAF Code: 37 (Education)
    • IAF Code: 36 (Public administration)
  • ABA-Q11: Nuclear
    • IAF Code: 11 (Nuclear fuel)
  • ABA-Q12: Pharmaceutical
    • IAF Code: 13 (Pharmaceuticals)
  • ABA-Q13: Aerospace
    • IAF Code: 21 (Aerospace)
  • ABA-Q14: Health
    • IAF Code: 38 (Health and social work)

These mappings help align the ABA clusters with the corresponding sectors classified under the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) codes, providing a comprehensive framework for management system certification activities.


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