ISO/IEC 17025, the international standard used for the accreditation of testing and calibration laboratories, was updated in 2017. ILAC (the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation) agreed with stakeholders that there would be a three year transition period to allow laboratories to incorporate the changes into their systems, and for accreditation bodies to check their effective implementation. The deadline for completion was set as 30th November 2020, with accreditation to the previous (2005) version no longer being valid beyond that date.
The current COVID-19 outbreak led to global restrictions on travel and social contact that has had a significant impact on the ability of some laboratories to implement the necessary changes, and for accreditation bodies to complete assessments and confirm compliance before the November deadline. Recognising the difficulties faced, ILAC and ISO agreed that the deadline should be extended by 6 months to allow sufficient additional time for all transitions to be completed. As a consequence, a revised deadline of 1st June 2021 has been agreed, and accreditation against ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 shall be recognised up until this date.
UKAS has been working with its accredited laboratories over the past 3 years to ensure that all were successfully transitioned before the deadline. Progress has been very good and we were on track to see our customers transitioned before the end of November, ensuring that there was no break in their accreditation. Although the deadline has been extended, we would strongly encourage those laboratories that have not yet transitioned to continue working towards the initial deadline to ensure that there are no unexpected complications during 2021.
The ISO/ILAC ISO/IEC 17025:2017 Transition Communique has been updated to reflect this extension to the transition period.