A seal of approval, stamp or other form of mark used on a product can influence a consumer's buying decision. They are found on products, certificates and publications indicating that the product and service measures up to specified requirements. A new International Standard aims to improve understanding and proper application of marks designed to raise consumer confidence in the global marketplace.

As goods and services flow across borders, business partners or government agencies may require verification that they measure up to standards, regulations and other requirements. This verification, when undertaken independently of the supplier and the end user, is known as "third-party conformity assessment" - which may result in the issue of a mark of conformity. The growing number of different types of marks issued in different countries by different conformity assessment bodies can lead to confusion, misunderstanding and misuse.

ISO/IEC 17030:2003, Conformity assessment - General requirements for third-party marks of conformity

ISO/IEC 17030:2003, Conformity assessment - General requirements for third-party marks of conformity, will provide a global benchmark for the issue of third-party marks of conformity to ensure that they are used in a consistent, comparable and reliable manner worldwide, thereby establishing a basis for better control of their use and in so doing, improving market confidence.

The new standard is designed to provide a uniform approach to the use of third-party marks of conformity, to fill relevant gaps in existing ISO/IEC standards and guides, and to address potential problems arising from their different uses.

"The different requirements pertaining to the marks of conformity often cause misunderstandings as to the real meanings of the marks, and lead to misuses in the market place," said Mr. Kiyoto Mitsui, Convenor of the working group that developed the standard. "We expect that the future of ISO/IEC 17030 will be widely used as a common basis of all kinds of marks of conformity either in the regulatory or voluntary area. The result should be improved market confidence and consumer acceptance of these marks."

ISO/IEC 17030 provides general requirements for third-party marks of conformity, including their issue and use - and may also be used as guidance for other applications of marks of conformity. It applies to many forms and different uses of marks including those used on products as well as those that are based on a management system, service, process, person, or organization.

Certification activities are not performed by ISO but are carried out independently of ISO by specialized inspection and certification bodies, and testing laboratories. ISO's mission is to develop International Standards, not to verify that ISO standards are being implemented by users in conformity with the requirements set out in its standards.