International Accreditation Forum
The International Accreditation Forum, Inc. (IAF) is the world association of Conformity Assessment Accreditation bodies and other bodies interested in conformity assessment in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programs of conformity assessment. Its primary function is to develop a single worldwide program of conformity assessment which reduces risk for business and its customers by assuring them that accredited certificates may be relied upon. Accreditation assures users of the competence and impartiality of the body accredited.
IAF members accredit certification or registration bodies that issue certificates attesting that an organization's management, products or personnel comply with a specified standard (called conformity assessment).
IAF has prepared an informative brochure which provides general information about IAF, its activities, membership and programs.
Role of the IAF
The primary purpose of IAF is two-fold. Firstly, to ensure that its accreditation body members only accredit bodies that are competent to do the work they undertake and are not subject to conflicts of interest. The second purpose of the IAF is to establish mutual recognition arrangements, known as Multilateral Recognition Arrangements (MLA), between its accreditation body members which reduces risk to business and its customers by ensuring that an accredited certificate may be relied upon anywhere in the world. The MLA contributes to the freedom of world trade by eliminating technical barriers to trade. IAF works to find the most effective way of achieving a single system that will allow companies with an accredited conformity assessment certificate in one part of the world, to have that certificate recognized else where in the world. The objective of the MLA is that it will cover all accreditation bodies in all countries in the world, thus eliminating the need for suppliers of products or services to be certified in each country where they sell their products or services.
Structure of the IAF
The highest level of authority in IAF is the Members in a General Meeting. General Meetings make decisions and lay down policy in the name of the members. The Board is responsible for legal actions to be carried out on behalf of the members, for developing broad policy directions for IAF and for ensuring that the day-to-day work of IAF is carried out in accordance with policies approved by members. The terms of reference, tasks and duties as defined by the Bylaws and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) remain unchanged for the members at a General Meeting, the Board of Directors and the Secretary. The Executive Committee is responsible to the Board of Directors for the day-to-day work of IAF on the basis of decisions made by the Members and directions by the Board of Directors. The operations of all IAF Committees and Subordinate Groups, including the Executive Committee, are subject to the IAF General Procedures
Membership of the IAF consists of Accreditation Bodies (which accredit Certification Bodies, which certify or register conforming organisations). An official list is available online.
Members recognise other members as equivalent, through accession to the Multilateral Recognition Agreements. These attest that Certificates traced to one member is equivalent to that of another.