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What is Accreditation?

What is the difference between accreditation and certification? Certification is third-party attestation related to products, processes, systems or persons, but accreditation is third-party attestation related to a conformity assessment body conveying formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks.

Accreditation is an endorsement of an organization's competence, credibility, independence and integrity in carrying out its conformity assessment activities.

Accreditation is a service undertaken in the public interest so that business users, final consumers, government departments and local authorities can have trust, right through to the final link in the production and distribution chain, in the quality and safety of the goods and services available in an increasingly globalized market.

Usually the reason for getting something independently evaluated is to confirm it meets specific requirements in order to reduce risks. Obvious examples are product failure, health risks, company reputation or to meet legal or customer requirements. Anything or anyone can be evaluated - products, equipment, people, management systems or organizations.

Accreditation by an accreditation body means that evaluators i.e. testing and calibration laboratories, certification and inspection bodies have been assessed against internationally recognized standards to demonstrate their competence, impartiality and performance capability.

It is the ability to distinguish between a proven, competent evaluator that ensures that the selection of a laboratory, certification or inspection body is an informed choice and not a gamble. Accreditation body means the evaluator can show to its customer that it has been successful at meeting the requirements of international accreditation standards.

Reciprocal trust between producer and purchaser of goods, between supplier and user of a service, is a conquest for the efficiency of contemporary market functions, both public and private, national and international.

This means that the customer reduces the risk of selecting an incompetent evaluator and paying for, or more seriously, acting upon invalid results.

Accreditation guarantees that reports on testing, inspection and certifications - of systems, products or personnel - carrying the Oxcert mark, are issued respecting the most stringent international requirements of conformity evaluation, including constant and rigorous surveillance of the behavior of accredited laboratories and bodies.

Accreditation by Oxcert provides organizations and their customers with confidence in the product or service being offered.


The Benefits of Accreditation

Confidence in the market place and in our public services is essential. Trust is placed in the products and services on offer often without a second thought by the customer, such are the regulations and standards against which products are manufactured and services provided.

There are many duties placed on government departments, local authorities and other agencies to ensure that trust is maintained. Whether it be health, water quality, food, consumer goods or transport safety, for example, the public sector provides the framework for the assurance that goods and services are safe and the environment we live in is clean and secure.

Accreditation by Oxcert can limit the need for government to regulate industry and the professions. It provides an alternative means of ensuring the reliability of activities that have the potential to impact on public confidence or the national reputation.

Companies big and small buy independent evaluations either through choice (to reduce the risk of product failure for example) or as a consequence of legal requirements (such as health and safety regulations). Most commonly these evaluations are calibration of equipment, product testing, inspection of equipment and certification of quality management systems.

The risks associated with not using accredited evaluators include:

  • Product failure as result of relying on invalid test results
  • Increased costs caused by inaccurate measurement (as a consequence of poorly calibrated equipment)
  • Legal action arising from inadequately inspected equipment resulting in accidents
  • Rejected tenders and orders by not being able to support products claims with a Oxcert accredited certificate or test report


Accreditation by Oxcert also brings benefits. These are some of the key benefits of being accredited:


Building Trust

In the global industry, customers are becoming more demanding and seeking assurances on the products and services you provide them. By getting accreditation, your customers will have the confidence in the quality of products and services that you provide. This will enable you to build trust between you and your customer.


International Recognition

Through the various mutual recognition arrangements between accreditation bodies, overseas markets will accept your company more readily if they know you have been certified by aOxcert accredited certification body or accept your test results or inspections if you are an accredited laboratory or inspection body.


Minimizes Risk

Accredited organizations reduce the risk of providing unreliable test results, services and products, and are able to meet the customers 'expectations.

Reduce Costs

Although accreditation comes at a cost, the cost savings resulting from being accredited will outweigh the cost of accreditation. Cost savings may result from improve productivity, reduce downtime, reduction of re-testing, etc.


Demonstrate credibility

No organisation will want to spend money on getting a report or certificate that has not been accredited by a competent body. An Oxcert accredited organisation is able to demonstrate competence for the report or certificate through its sound management system and the use of trained and competence personnel.


Accreditation by the Oxcert instantly increases the credibility of your organization and certification services. It also increases international recognition and acceptance of the management systems certifications you issue.

Another benefits are:

  • Market access; for companies with ambitions to export accredited testing is vitally important to avoid the cost and time involved in re-testing products.
  • Due diligence; using a Oxcert  accredited body to carry out an independent evaluation helps demonstrate due diligence in the event of legal action
  • Accredited testing and calibration laboratories are a superb source of impartial advice and knowledge transfer leading to product development opportunities


About Oxcert


The Oxcertis an accreditation body with responsibility for the accreditation of laboratories, certification bodies and inspection bodies.  The Oxcert recognized by an academic advisory board to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organizations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. Accreditation by Oxcert demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of these evaluators.



The Oxcertprovides accreditation in accordance with the relevant International Organization for Standardization ISO 17000 series of standards and guides and the harmonized EN 45000 series of European standards.

 The Oxcert is a non-profit-distributing private company, limited by guarantee with the objective of making products and services safe and reliable.Oxcert is independent of Government but is recognized as the British accreditation body.

We all want to have confidence in the goods and services that we use. Trust is essential whether in the high street, the supermarket or buying as a business. We also strive for sustainable development and enhanced competitiveness. Our duties are manifold and focus on quality, environment, safety, health and efficient use of resources.

We’re there to inspect the inspector, which means that we review and approve certification bodies, inspection bodies and laboratories that, in turn, inspect, test and assess everything from management systems and elevators to medical samples and environmentally hazardous emissions.

Trade is now global. We can order, purchase and receive goods faster and from a wider range of sources than ever before. Suppliers are finding that customers are more demanding, while consumers seek assurances that products and services match the claims made about them.

There is a means of building trust in the market place and in public services:

Accreditation by Oxcert is the key to ensuring that consumers, suppliers, purchasers and specifiers can have confidence in the quality of goods and in the provision of services throughout the supply chain. 

Oxcertis a company limited by guarantee, having members instead of shareholders. The Members represent those who have an interest in all aspects of accreditation - national and local government, business and industry, purchasers, users and quality managers.

Like all companies, Oxcerthas an advisory board - a mixture of executive and non-executive directors. The advisory board is supported in the day-to- day running of these activities by an Executive drawn from senior Oxcertstaff.



Our Policy


Oxcert will undertake proactively its activities as the core body of the third-party conformity assessment scheme by reflecting adequately the needs of the society in general, by which Oxcert will endeavor to maintain and enhance the confidence in the third-party conformity assessment scheme. The Oxcert activities require trust. To retain the trust of the surrounding world, Oxcert has to maintain a high level of quality in all of its activities.

For ensuring the implementation of the above, Oxcert will

  1. Actively follow and influence the national and international development of technical conformity that is linked to its activities.
  2. Perform its accreditation activities impartially without discrimination, provide services in satisfaction of customers both direct and indirect under high ethical standards and code of conduct,
  3. Ensure that its personnel are competent and committed and are informed and follow the requirements and instructions that are set out in legislation, the quality management system and any agreements.
  4. Have active communications with any and all parties interested in the conformity assessment schemes it provides and contribute to the sound stabilization and development of these schemes,
  5. In order to achieve these policies, secure a suitable work environment and provide necessary management resources.


Mission and Vision


Mission: To lead and facilitate the development and use of national and international standards and accreditation services in order to enhance competitiveness and well-being.

To contribute to health, safety, environmental conservation and fair economic activity and to facilitate trade, by formally recognizing and promoting the use of conformity assessment systems that comply with international standards.


Vision:  To improve quality of life through leadership of the International Standards System.To become the leading accreditation body in the world by enhancing the reliability of third-party conformity assessment and promoting wide use of this system.

The fundamental goals of Oxcert are to:

  • Establish and maintain global acceptance of Oxcert accreditation services for the accredited bodies and their accredited data recognition and establish and maintain effective international and domestic Mutual Recognition Arrangements;
  • Establish and maintain programs to meet existing and emerging needs for accreditation services in the marketplace.
  • Increase market share and expand into new areas consistent with our non-profit status and/or expand market opportunities and customer base;
  • Improve the productivity and effectiveness of the Oxcert management system to ensure and enhance the quality of customer services and accreditations;
  • Establish and maintain beneficial relationships with peers, laboratories, users and other stakeholders to enhance the value of Oxcert accreditation;
  • Provide continual improvement opportunities for participants in the administration of Oxcert, including staff, assessors, and advisory board members.




There are a growing number of international 'Associations' and Oxcertare especially cautious about aligningwith too many of them. To do so would impact upon Oxcertin two significant ways (i) cost of membershipand support, (ii) loss of freedom. Moreover, in some cases, membership is not available because of ‘closedshop’ practices that allow only one accreditation body from each country.

Oxcertview is that commercial and technical freedoms provide significant benefit to clients and thatmembership of associations should be entered into only with great care.

Regarding freedom; the standards and guides produced by committees are, at their very best, a consensus and anaverage view of subject matter. By the time a committee has published its guidelines and structures for a topicthe 'world has moved on' and committee output has limited contribution to society. In some ways internationalassociations constrain progress. Their strong point however that is there is a degree of safety and caution that isreassuring to the general public.

A significant aspect of membership of some international associations is their exclusive nature. For example;IAF rules do not permit more than one accreditation body offering the same scope of accreditation from eachcountry. Competition between accreditation bodies with different commercial models but similar technical onesis therefore prevented. This is considered a restrictive practice.

To date, Oxcerthas been prevented from applying for memberships because of these rules and although somebenefits of membership are perceived it remains a closed shop. It is regrettable in view of the contribution thatOxcert can make to the accreditation process that may be welcomed by others.

Many international organisations, such as IAF are private organisations that are established with no other remitor authority than to operate as commercial organisations. They have no legally assigned status (such as thatwhich is assigned to United Nations Organisations or the International Monetary Fund nor is there any legalrequirement for their members to be members. Nonetheless, Oxcertrecognize that membership does havebenefits in particular the credibility and prestige that such organisations may have built up in the marketplaceeven though these benefits may be subjective and are commercially driven factors.

The establishment of many international organisations is not enshrined in any particular law or item oflegislation. However, practices have erroneously developed within some purchasing bodies including those ofdepartments of state, in the mistaken belief that membership is a ‘requirement’. In most cases this is not so andalthough any purchasing authority has the right to describe preferences and policies for procurement, a customoften develops that has no foundation in any technical requirement.

In order to redress the shortfalls of restrictive and misleading practice Oxcertis sponsoring GlobalAccreditation which is an organisation with similar aims to IAF (in that it wishes standards of quality andtechnical excellence to be upheld) but with an open and proactive approach. Membership of GlobalAccreditation is not restricted to a select few (There is no franchise restricting membership to one geographiclocation), and its focus is upon the needs of the general public rather than the desires of its own members.

Global Accreditation may be visited at www.global-accreditation.org.

In summary:

Oxcertare not currently members of IAF, EA or IATCA for closed shop and for historical reasons. There is no technical requirement for membership of these trade associations that typically are commercial organisations.

In consequence of public awareness of this subject Oxcertis sponsoring Global Accreditation at www.globalaccreditation.org as a means of contributing, on a far wider scale, the benefits of accredited certification to thegeneral public.


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