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Conformity assessment and certification

What does "conformity assessment" mean?

At its simplest, "conformity assessment" means checking that products, materials, services, systems or people measure up to the specifications of a relevant standard. For example, a customer may want to check that the product he or she ordered from a supplier meets the purpose for which it is required. One of the most efficient ways to do this is when the specifications of the product have been defined in an International Standard. That way, both supplier and customer are on the same wavelength, even if they are based in different countries, because they are both using the same references.

Why is conformity assessment so important?

Today, many products require testing for conformance with specifications or compliance with safety or other regulations before they can be put on many markets. Even simple products may require supporting technical documentation that includes test data. It is not always practical for these activities to be carried out by suppliers and customers, and so often specialized third parties get involved. In addition, national legislation may require such testing to be carried out by independent bodies, particularly when the products concerned have health or environmental implications. In fact, conformity assessment has become an important component of world trade and is most often carried out by specialist organizations, such as inspection and certification bodies and testing laboratories.

Does ISO carry out conformity assessment?

No, ISO itself does not carry out conformity assessment. This is a matter for suppliers and clients in the private sector, regulatory bodies when ISO standards have been incorporated into public legislation, and laboratories and certification bodies offering independent conformity assessment services.

However, over the years, ISO has developed many of the standards (although locally they will probably carry a national designation) against which products are assessed for conformity, as well as the standardized test methods that allow the meaningful comparison of test results so necessary for international trade.

While ISO itself does not carry out conformity assessment, some of our members do, either as a commercial venture, or under mandate to their national government

Does ISO have any involvement with conformity assessment?

We do not verify that ISO standards are being implemented by users in conformity with the requirements of the standards. However, in partnership with IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), we do develop ISO/IEC guides and standards to be used by organizations which carry out conformity assessment activities. The voluntary criteria contained in these guides and standards represent an international consensus on what constitutes best practice. Their use contributes to the consistency and coherence of conformity assessment worldwide and so facilitates trade across borders. You can find more information about these activities in the Conformity assessment pages.

How can I find a certification body?

Under the Certification information page, the section on Choosing a certification body, in particular, will explain how to find a certification body.

How can I verify a company’s certification?

Certified companies or persons have an obligation to inform the customer of the name of the organization that issued their certificate. Therefore verification of certification should be addressed to the certification organization in question. Most certification bodies have a certificate validity check process available on the homepage of their website . If you know the name of the certification body and the name of the certified company or certificate number then you can easily check if they are certified by using this validity check process.

You may also wish to contact the ISO member in your country or the country concerned, as they may have a national database of certified companies.

How can I file a complaint about a certified company?

Please follow the advice provided in our complaints page.

How can I obtain a logo to publicize a certification?

ISO does not carry out any certification, and therefore we have no logos you can use to advertise your certification. However, some certification bodies propose logos for their clients’ use. You may also find some useful guidance within our publication on how to publicize your ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 certification.[PDF]

Need help?

Contact our information service

Send us an email (customerservice@iso.org) or call us on
+41 22 749 01 11 (Switzerland)

Mr. Joseph Martinez - Customer Services ISO
Joseph Martinez
Customer Services


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