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Definition of Terms

These terms are often used synonymously but actually refer to quite different processes. Here we aim to provide a simple clarification and how they relate to both management systems and training.


Refers to the formal recognition provided by a recognised body which validates the competency of a Certification Body to perform ISO certification audits in specific industry sectors. The Certification Body becomes accredited. This term also is applied in the recognition of testing, calibration, personnel certification and inspection organisations directly by a competent body (such as UKAS in the UK).


Is the process of conducting an independent 3rd party assessment of an organisation's management system to an appropriate ISO standard and verifying that it conforms to the requirements of that standard. Certification is performed by a (accredited) Certification Body.


Is the term used to record a company's successful certification of its management system by the Certification Body. Companies can be identified for example, as an ISO 9001 Registered Company or stated as Certified to ISO 9001.


In terms of auditor training, the training accreditation body (such as IRCA or IEMA) approves training providers and their specific auditor training courses are certified. As an approved training provider, training companies can offer their certified auditor courses to individuals. If an individual attends one these certified courses, they are then able to apply to become a Registered auditor, for which the certified course meets the training requirements of the accreditation body.

For example:

ISO standards applicable to certification and auditing

ISO/IEC 17021:2011 Conformity Assessment - requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems

  • Applicable to Certification Bodies

ISO 19011:2012 Guidelines for quality and/or environmental systems auditing

  • Not mandatory but provides good audit practice and most auditor and training registration schemes are founded on this standard