Accreditation is an endorsement of a conformity assessment body’s (CAB’s) competence, credibility, independence and integrity in carrying out its conformity assessment activities.
In everyday language the terms accreditation and certification are often used interchangeably. In the conformity assessment industry however, these terms have very different and specific meanings.
ISO’s formal definition of accreditation is “third party attestation related to a conformity assessment body conveying formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks.” (ISO/ IEC 17000:2004)
Certification is “third party attestation related to products, processes, systems or persons.” (ISO/ IEC 17000:2004)