About Us - FAQ

Q - Who are the members of ICAB? 
A - There are two different categories of Membership to the ICAB:
ICAB Signatories 
Accreditation body members of ICAB achieve ICAB Signatory status after a full evaluation of their operations by a peer evaluation team, which is tasked to ensure that the applicant member complies fully with both the international standards and ICAB requirements. Once an accreditation body is a signatory of the ICAB, it is required to recognise and promote certificates issued by certification bodies accredited by all other signatories with the scope of the ICAB.

Associate Members / Observer Organisations
Associate Members / Observers are granted Special Recognition status where ICAB believes it is in the best interests of Members to develop closer relationships with another body. This includes key stakeholder organisations, such as standards bodies, industry representations and regulatory bodies.

Q - How is the ICAB structured?
A - ICAB is an international association of organisations that work together to achieve common trade facilitation objectives. The terms of reference, tasks and duties of the Members, the Board of Directors, and the Secretary are defined by the Bylaws and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The highest level of authority in ICAB is the Members in a General Meeting. General Meetings make decisions and set policy on behalf of members. The Board is responsible for legal actions to be carried out on behalf of the members, for developing broad policy directions and for ensuring that the day-to-day work of ICAB is carried out in accordance with the approved policies.
The Executive Committee is responsible to the Board of Directors for the day-to-day work of ICAB based on decisions made by Members and directions from the Board of Directors.

Q - What is conformity assessment?
A - Conformity assessment is the demonstration that what is being supplied actually meets the requirements specified or claimed. Conformity assessment can be applied to a product or a service, a process, a system, an organisation or persons and includes activities such as testing, inspection, and certification.

Demonstrating compliance with standards and other criteria assumes greater importance to consumer confidence as products and services become increasingly technically complex. Conformity assessment is therefore an indispensable part of an economy’s business and standards and conformance infrastructure.

Q - What is accreditation?
A - Accreditation is the independent evaluation of certification bodies against recognised standards to ensure their impartiality and competence to carry out specific activities, such as tests, calibrations, inspections and certifications.
The ICAB operates in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programmes.
Through the application of national and international standards, procurers and consumers can therefore have confidence in the calibration and test results, inspection reports and certifications provided.
Accreditation bodies are established in many countries with the primary purpose of ensuring that certification bodies are subject to oversight by an authoritative body.

Q - What is an accreditation body? 
A - An accreditation body is an authoritative body that performs accreditation. In some instances, its authority is derived from government.
Its primary function is to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services (collectively known as conformity assessment bodies). Accreditation demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of these organisations.
Accreditation bodies normally operate as non-profit distributing organisations.
The accreditation body can be private or backed by the government.

Q - What is an accredited body?
A - An organisation that provides certification, testing, calibration, inspection and other conformity assessment services can seek accreditation. An accredited body has demonstrated that it fully meet the requirements of relevant national and international standards.
The criteria for determining a certification body’s competence are based on the relevant national or international standard (such as ISO/IEC 17024, ISO/IEC Guide 65ISO/IEC 17021) and include: the qualifications required knowledge and skills, training and experience of staff; appropriate equipment that is properly calibrated and maintained; adequate quality assurance procedures; and appropriate sampling practices. 
Accredited bodies can be private or government owned, and can range in size from sole traders to large multi-disciplinary, multi-site organisations.

Q - What is certification?
A - Certification is a “third-party attestation related to products, processes, systems or persons,” as defined by ISO/IEC 17000 Conformity Assessment—Vocabulary and General Principles.
The most popular certification is ISO 9001 and the environmental management systems standard ISO 14001. However, certification programs exist for a range of management systems standards, including the ISO/IEC 2700 program for information security management and the ISO 22000 program for food safety management.
Product certification is the process of verifying that a product, including services and processes, meet requirements specified in contracts, regulations, or specifications.
In most countries, accreditation is voluntary, however, many certification bodies choose to seek accreditation in order to demonstrate third-party confirmation of their competence.

Q - What is the ICAB MLA?
A - Accreditation bodies, which have been evaluated by peers as competent, have signed an arrangement, the ICAB Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA), that enhances the acceptance of goods and services across national borders.
The purpose of the 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.
Signatories must recognise and support acceptance of certificates issued by organisations accredited by all other signatories of the MLA, provided the certificates are issued within the scope of the ICAB MLA signatory.
This recognition and acceptance removes technical barriers to trade (TBT) by reducing redundant conformity assessment.
Accreditations granted by ICAB MLA signatories should be recognised worldwide based on their equivalent accreditation programs, reducing costs and adding value to business and consumers.

Q - What are the benefits of using an accredited certification body?
Choosing a certification body that has been accredited by an accreditation body that is a signatory to the ICAB Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA) has proved that it complies with best practice. It is competent to deliver a consistently reliable, and impartial and accurate service which meets the appropriate, internationally-recognised standard.
Using an accredited certification body can:
• de-risk your procurement by taking the guesswork out of choosing a certification body by giving you confidence that you will get the service that closely meets your requirements;
• win new business particularly since the use of accredited conformity assessment services is increasingly a stipulation of specifiers in both the public and private sector;
• gain access to overseas markets since certificates issued by bodies that are accredited by an ICAB MLA signatory are recognised and accepted throughout the world;
• help to identify best practice since the certification body is required to have appropriate knowledge of your business sector;
• offer market differentiation and leadership by showing to others credible evidence of good practice;
• reduce paperwork and increase efficiency by reducing the need to re-audit your business.


Q - How can I make a complaint about the operation of an ICAB Member or a certification body?
A - ICAB treats any complaints with the utmost concern and will deal with them expeditiously and in confidence.
In the first instance, complaints against a conformity assessment body should be lodged with that particular CAB. If the matter cannot be resolved within a satisfactory timeframe, then the complaint should be referred to concernd accreditation body. If the matter is still not resolved then complaint may be sent to ICAB by emailing the relevant details to the ICAB Secretary together with any necessary documentation required to substantiate the complaint.

Q - How can I become a member of ICAB? 
A - Accreditation Body Membership of ICAB is open to accreditation bodies that conduct and administer programmes by which they accredit bodies for certification of quality systems, products, services, personnel, environmental management systems as well as other programmes of conformity assessment, provided those bodies are willing to allow their accreditation systems to be used by other ICAB Members. 

Q - What are the advantages of ICAB Membership?
A - ICAB Membership offers several advantages for your organisation and your economy:
• The opportunity to become a signatory of the ICAB MLA, thereby providing international recognition for your accredited bodies;
• The opportunity to learn from, and interact with, experienced accreditation bodies to assist with the development of your system;  
• Interaction with other developing accreditation systems to share experiences and seek common solutions to problems;
• The opportunity to represent, and inform, your constituents on important matters in the international conformity assessment arena;
• Participation in the ICAB annual general assembly; 
• Participation in ICAB committees covering policy matters, technical issues, promotion and marketing, certification representation and development support for new accreditation systems; 
• Access to the ICAB network which provides access to the latest drafts of ICAB documents, a range of ICAB resource material, and information from ICAB committees.