Our simple video explains how to get started on your accreditation journey:
- Who can become accredited
- How to apply and prepare
- What to expect from the assessment process and ongoing support from the team.
Is accreditation applicable to me?
UKAS accredits organisations offering services including certification, validation and verification, testing, inspection, calibration, proficiency testing provision, reference material production and imaging and physiological services against national and internationally recognised standards – see below for a list of standards.
Are you outside the UK?
Summary of standards used for accreditation
- ISO/IEC 17025: Testing & calibration laboratories
- ISO/IEC 17021-1: Certification of management systems
- ISO/IEC 17024: Certification of persons
- ISO/IEC 17065: Certification of products, processes & services
- ISO/IEC 17020: Inspection bodies
- ISO 15189: Medical laboratories
- ISO 22870 (in conjunction with ISO 15189): Point-of-care testing (POCT)
- ISO 15195 (in conjunction with ISO 15189): Medical reference measurement laboratories
- IQIPS: Improving Quality in Physiological Services
- QSI: Quality Standard for Imaging
- BS 70000: Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering services (MPACE)
- ISO/IEC 17043: Proficiency testing (PT) providers
- ISO 17034: Reference material producers
- ISO/IEC 17029: Validation and verification bodies
- ISO 14065 & ISO 14064-3: Validation and verification of environmental information including greenhouse gas (GHG)
- Accreditation of Approved Bodies (GB) and UK Notified Bodies for the NI market
- I’m looking for a new area for development
How to apply
- Familiarise yourself with the clauses in the relevant accreditation standard(s) which can be purchased from the British Standards Institute (BSI)
- Perform a gap analysis to see what you have in place and what needs addressing
- Identify the relevant supporting UKAS Publications which will be required to gain accreditation
- International publications relevant to their area of accreditation are also available on the EA, IAF and ILAC websites
- Complete the application form relevant to your application – this will include details of what to submit, including key policy and procedure documents and proof of legal status, to ensure swift processing
- The Application Fee, set out in the Terms of Business, must also be paid at this time
NOTE: Organisations based outside the UK should contact [email protected] in the first instance before submitting any documentation or fee.
- Your application will be assigned to an Assessment Manager (AM) who will review the documentation and guide you through the process.
A pre-assessment is an informal visit prior to initial assessment, it is used to determine how ready you are for accreditation. A pre-assessment visit is optional, but it can be a valuable step in the process to reduce delays in gaining accreditation.
UKAS recommends a pre-assessment visit by the UKAS Assessment Manager (and possibly a Technical Assessor).
This visit is attended by your UKAS Assessment Manager (and possibly a Technical Assessor) to addresses the scope of accreditation requested and will normally involve between 1 and 4 man-days work. It is designed to confirm your organisation’s readiness for full assessment.
The Assessment Manager will provide you with a quotation for the work involved and a report on the findings of the pre-assessment following the visit.
The value of a pre-assessment visit
Your organisation will have spent time and money to understand the accreditation standard, develop a management system and maybe even employed a consultant to guide you through the process. You may have experience of an ISO 9001 or similar audit and may feel very prepared for an assessment from UKAS. However, applicants that have not had a pre-assessment or previous extensive experience of accreditation assessments are often under-prepared for the initial assessment.
Common problems include:
- Misunderstanding of some requirements within the standard and/or sector schemes;
- Missing requirements within the standard or incorrectly determining a requirement does not apply to the organisation;
- Missing requirements from IAF (International Accreditation Forum), ILAC (International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation) or EA (European Cooperation for Accreditation) mandatory documents;
- A lack of implementation of processes and policies;
- Practice not matching documented policy and process.
These problems can lead to increased cost and/or timeframe for gaining accreditation. For example, misunderstanding the requirements of the standard can lead to the need for significant rework on policy and procedure. Day-to-day operations not relating to documented procedures may require UKAS to repeat some or all of the initial assessment in order to observe the activity and be in a position to assess its suitability.
What is involved in a pre-assessment visit?
During the visit, UKAS carries out a review of your management system documentation in order to identify any significant gaps or misunderstandings, and to determine that it is applied throughout the organisation and translates into everyday practices. The visit will also highlight any specific requirements that fall outside of the standard that may have been overlooked and identify areas where the organisation may have over complicated its implementation where a more efficient approach may be possible.
It also provides the opportunity for discussion between UKAS and the customer on the requirements of the standard, the assessment process, and best practice in the sector.
A pre-assessment visit does not guarantee that there will be no nonconformities raised at an initial assessment or that the initial assessment will have a positive recommendation. However, applicants that opt for a pre-assessment visit, and subsequently act upon the issues raised, are in a better position for the initial assessment.
The initial assessment visit
Once you have addressed any issues raised during the pre-assessment visit, the initial assessment is the first formal assessment.
This will be conducted by a Lead Assessor (normally your Assessment Manager) supported, as necessary, by Technical Assessors with the expertise to cover your scope of application. The length of the visit will depend upon the scope of application requested. The Assessment Manager will provide you with a quotation for the work involved.
The practicalities of the assessment
In advance of the visit, you will receive a visit confirmation followed by a visit plan, which provides a proposed timetable for the work to be assessed.
- An opening meeting will take place to agree the arrangements.
- The assessment will involve a detailed review of company records.
- Interviews will take place with staff and managers, as well as witnessing of key activities.
- A full vertical and horizontal audit will take place.
- A de-brief of the visit and any findings will be discussed at a closing meeting.
- UKAS will provide a full report during or immediately following the assessment visit. This will detail any findings or improvement actions identified against accreditation requirements. You will be asked to advise UKAS on how you will address them.
The assessment team will make a recommendation at the closing meeting.
Should you have any findings, you will have approximately 12 weeks (this may vary but will be agreed with your Assessment Manager) to provide suitable evidence to your Assessment Manager that they have been addressed.
Once any mandatory findings have been satisfactorily cleared, the Assessment Manager will submit their recommendation to an independent Decision-maker within UKAS. See UKAS decision-making process.
Following ratification of the decision to grant accreditation you will be notified in writing. You will also receive a certificate of accreditation, and a schedule defining the scope will be made publicly available on the UKAS website.
Maintaining your accreditation
Your accreditation will be confirmed on an annual basis through surveillance activities, with a full re-assessment every fourth year. The first surveillance visit takes place 6 months after the Grant of Accreditation.
At the initial assessment stage, you will be provided with an estimate of the work involved for the four-year cycle. At any time during the life of your accreditation, if the estimated effort changes (for example, if you have an extension to scope granted which affects the effort required in subsequent assessments), then you will be provided with an amended estimate. A quotation for each year’s assessment will be provided.
Accredited organisations are advised to adopt the following measures to maintain their accreditation:
- Inform your Assessment Manager of any changes that may affect the scope of your accreditation as early as possible. Your Assessment Manager can be contacted at any point in the cycle.
- Ensure that your key technical staff maintain their technical competence by attending recognised training courses and relevant sector events. UKAS provides training courses that may support the development of your technical team.
- Ensure that you keep up-to-date with Regulatory changes in your sector.
- Ensure that you are subscribed to Update, UKAS Publications and Technical Bulletins to ensure that you receive the latest accreditation requirements.
- Inform UKAS in advance of any relocation of premises from which accredited work is performed.
- Conduct an appropriate Internal audit regime.
- Ensure on-going effective document control.
- Retain all quality records and technical records throughout the period between assessments.
- Ensure that you are subscribed to UKAS Publications and Technical Bulletins to ensure that you receive the latest accreditation requirements.
Making the most of your accreditation
Accredited organisations are able to benefit by visually identifying their status through the use of the UKAS symbol. Read the conditions for using the accreditation logo and symbols which sets out the conditions that must be followed for organisations that wish to use the symbol.
- How to use the UKAS symbol for guidance and suggested uses.
- Webinars & events
- Case studies, videos and articles
- Subscribe to Update newsletter
- Social Media
- You can contact [email protected] for further support
As a signatory to the international accreditation Arrangements, you are entitled to use the ILAC and IAF Marks to demonstrate that the services that you provide are recognised globally.
Extending your accreditation
Once accredited, you can apply to extend the scope of your accreditation at any point by completing the appropriate application form, and sending this to [email protected], along with any relevant supporting documentation.
This applies to both extending your existing scope, and gaining accreditation under another accreditation standard.
You are encouraged to discuss any proposed extension to scope with your Assessment Manager prior to application.
Extensions to scope can be completed as stand alone visits, as part of your next routine visit (surveillance or re-assessment), or as desktop reviews depending on the scope applied for, and desired assessment time-frame.
More information: https://www.ukas.com/customer-area/extending-amending-accreditation