Accreditation body members of IAF are admitted to the IAF MLA only after a most stringent evaluation of their operations by a peer evaluation team which is charged to ensure that the applicant member complies fully with both the international standards and IAF requirements. Once an accreditation body is a signatory of the IAF MLA it is required to recognise the certificates issued by conformity assessment bodies accredited by all other signatories of the IAF MLA, with the appropriate scope.
The IAF MLA consists of a five level arrangement, with levels two and three constituting the Main scope and levels 4 and 5 constituting the Sub-scope. More information on the structure of the MLA can be found under IAF PR 4:2010 Structure of IAF MLA and Endorsed Normative Documents in Procedure Documents (PR Series).
Although the IAF MLA is signed by individual accreditation bodies, the IAF MLA relies heavily on the MLA of the three regional accreditation groups; the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA), the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) and the InterAmerican Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC), as it is these groups which perform the majority of the peer evaluation activity not the IAF.
To gain confidence in the work of the regional accreditation groups, the IAF evaluated and accepted the process and outcomes of the three regional accreditation group MLAs (EA, PAC and IAAC) for the Main scopes of ISO/IEC 17021 and ISO/IEC Guide 65 and the sub-scopes of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
Regional accreditation groups are evaluated every four years by the IAF. Membership of the IAF MLA is recognised as being satisfied by membership of any of the EA MLA, the PAC MLA or the IAAC MLA, within the appropriate scope.
IAF is encouraging more of its members to join the MLA as soon as they have passed a rigorous evaluation process to ensure that their accreditation programs are of world standard. The consequence of joining the IAF MLA is that conformity assessment certificates issued, within the scope of the IAF MLA, by conformity assessment bodies accredited by any one of the members of the IAF MLA will be recognised in the world wide IAF program.
Contact details of the accreditation bodies which are signatories to the MLA are listed on the IAF Members pages. Those members which are signatories are denoted by “Date Admitted to the MLA”.
Details of the signatories of the IAF MLA programs at the dates shown are listed in the following document:
IAF MLA Committee Members (MLAC_13-001 Rev8) including MLA Signatories and associated scopes
The Purpose of the MLA
The purpose of the arrangement, the IAF Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA), is to ensure mutual recognition of accredited certification between signatories to the MLA, and subsequently acceptance of accredited certification in many markets based on one accreditation.
Accreditations granted by IAF MLA signatories are recognised worldwide based on their equivalent accreditation programs, therefore reducing costs and adding value to business and consumers.
Accreditation body members of IAF are admitted to the MLA only after stringent evaluation of their operations by a peer evaluation team.
As a strategic objective, IAF is committed to increasing the transparency of the peer evaluation process and its outcomes. IAF and its Accreditation Body members invest significant effort and resource to maintain the integrity and consistency of the MLA through the peer evaluation process.
The IAF MLA Annual Report sets out the detailed activity that is carried out as part of the peer evaluation process, to ensure that regulators, specifiers, and businesses can have confidence in the Arrangement. The IAF MLA Report is published on an annual basis.
The IAF-MLA Mark
The IAF MLA mark can be used by accreditation bodies to demonstrate their status as a signatory to the IAF MLA.
Accredited certification bodies can also use the IAF-MLA Mark in combination with the accreditation symbol to use on their certificates.
Businesses seeking certification will be able to see at a glance if the certification body issuing the certificate is accredited by an accreditation body that is a signatory to the IAF MLA. The certification body must include an indication as to which activity the accreditation is related.
Use of the MLA Mark by accreditation bodies and conformity assessment bodies is not mandatory and therefore certificates, from accredited certification bodies, may be seen with or without the MLA Mark.
The Evaluation Process
Accreditation body members of IAF are admitted to the MLA only after stringent evaluation of their operations by a peer evaluation team. It is the responsibility of this team to assess that the applicant member complies fully with both the international standards and IAF guidelines.
Each accreditation body that is a signatory to the IAF MLA commits to:
Maintain conformity with the current version of ISO/IEC 17011 Conformity assessment - General requirements for bodies providing assessment and accreditation of conformity assessment bodies and supplementary requirements documents.
Recognise the competence and impartiality of accreditations of Conformity Assessment Bodies by all other members of the MLA.
The IAF MLA has been structured to build on existing and developing regional MLAs established around the world. IAF has granted Special Recognition to the MLA programs of three Regional Accreditation Groups, the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA), the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) and the InterAmerican Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC), on the basis of the acceptance of the mutual recognition arrangements established within these organisations.
Membership of the IAF MLA is recognised as being satisfied by membership of either the EA MLA, the PAC MLA or the IAAC MLA for recognised programs. IAF members who are also signatories of these regional MLAs are automatically accepted into the IAF MLA for recognised programs. The IAF MLA for Quality Management Systems (QMS) has been operational since 22 January 1998 when 14 IAF Members signed the Arrangement in Guangzhou, China. The IAF MLAs for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and Product Certification became operational at the IAF Annual Meetings held in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2004.
Currently there are two main scopes: Management Systems and Product Certification.
There are two sub-scopes for Management Systems:
Quality Management Systems (QMS) and Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
A main scope means certificates are ‘equally reliable’ because the conformity assessment bodies conform to the same standard
A sub-scope means the certificates are ‘equivalent’ because the management systems, products, services or persons conform to the same standard.
The number of IAF MLA Signatories at 23 November 2010 is as follows:
Main scope of ISO/IEC 17021 and the sub-scope of ISO 9001: 3 Regional Accreditation Groups (EA, PAC & IAAC) and 46 Accreditation Bodies
Main scope of ISO/IEC 17021 and the sub-scope of ISO 14001: 3 Regional Accreditation Groups (EA, PAC & IAAC) and 41 Accreditation Bodies
Main scope of ISO/IEC Guide 65: 32 Regional Accreditation Groups (EA, PAC & IAAC) and 38 Accreditation Bodies
Note: There are currently no sub-scopes under the main scope of ISO/IEC Guide 65. To include sub-scopes under the main scope of ISO/IEC Guide 65, schemes have to be endorsed by the IAF. The process for the endorsement of schemes can be found under IAF PL 3:2009 Policy and Procedure for Expansion of the Scope of the MLA in Policy Documents (PL series).