» Accreditation of Pre-Shipment & Commodity Inspection to ISO/IEC 17020

15 October, 2010

Pre-Shipment or Preshipment Inspection (PSI) is the practice of employing specialised private inspection companies to check shipment details - essentially price, quantity and/or quality of goods purchased from abroad.

There are many definitions of PSI and it is also known as Destination Inspection (DI).Verification of Conformity (VOC) is a specific type of Pre-Shipment Inspection.

For the purpose of UKAS accreditation, Pre-Shipment Inspection is normally categorised as

• Institutional Services (IS) whether PSI, DI, VOC and,
• Commercial (or Commodity) Inspections (CI).

Institutional Services

PSI is normally performed as part of a government, customs or similar state institution’s contract for goods imported to a country. It is performed in compliance with a number of World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement requirements to compensate for differences in certain administrative infrastructures and to safeguard national financial interests e.g. prevention of capital flight, commercial fraud, customs duty evasion.

The UKAS accreditation schedule (type & range of inspection) describes PSI as,

• On-site physical inspection of quantity, packaging, dimensions
• Valuation according to WTO agreement
• Customs classification code verification

The accreditation is normally for inspection of consumer products but in certain cases, other product types may be applicable.

VOC, which is a specific subset of IS PSI, is almost invariably carried out for a state body in the importing country. It involves some aspects of PSI above but not valuation or price verification. It does include some verification of quality (i.e verifying that the product conforms to relevant national or international standards set by the country of import) and involves the issuance of a Certificate of Conformity or similar.

The UKAS accreditation schedule (type & range of inspection) describes VOC as,

• On-site physical inspection of quantity, packaging, dimensions
• Verification of meeting the government standards body requirements.

Inspection for VOC accredited under ISO / IEC 17020 is different to Product Certification accredited under ISO Guide 65, in that the inspectors only verify conformity with the stated requirements by checking test certificates issued by laboratories, certification bodies etc, against the shipment. The inspection body does not perform conformity assessment of the product itself. Simply, in the case of PSI the inspection body looks to see if the shipment matches the described specification whereas the product certification body makes sure that product really meets the specification.

Commercial Inspections

Commercial or Commodity Inspection (CI) is conducted for the purposes of international business between a buyer and seller. Such inspections require specific expertise in each area and possibly, though not necessarily, in each specific product.

The UKAS accreditation schedule (type & range of inspection) describes CI as:

• On-site physical inspection
• Reference to samples undergoing analysis during inspection and/or testing by laboratory
• Determination of quantity by specialist methods (e.g. Draught survey etc)

Such CI requires specialist expertise along with detailed product knowledge in order to perform inspections competently.

Field of Inspection

The field of inspection for any of the categories of inspection described above may be reflected in the UKAS accreditation schedule as follows.

Consumer Products
- Textiles
- Footwear
- Toys, nursery products
- Household products
- Hardware, tools, DIY products
- Furniture, wooden products
- Glassware, ceramics
- Pharmaceuticals, cosmetics
- Passenger cars, spare parts
- sports goods and equipment
- Passenger cars, spare parts
- Electrical, electronic products (low voltage)
- Audio-video equipment
- Agricultural inspection
- Metals & Minerals inspection
- Marine Surveys
- Industrial Equipment inspection
- Chemical and Petroleum Products inspection
- Textile and Consumer Products
- Vehicle inspection