Laboratory Accreditation and IAF/MLA

Role of 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 recognised 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. Certified once – accepted everywhere.


Accreditation body members of IAF are admitted to the IAF MLA only after a most stringent evaluation of their operations by a peer evaluation team which is charged to ensure that the applicant member complies fully with both the international standards and IAF requirements. Once an accreditation body is a signatory of the IAF MLA it is required to recognise the certificates issued by conformity assessment bodies accredited by all other signatories of the IAF MLA, with the appropriate scope.

The IAF MLA consists of a five level arrangement, with levels two and three constituting the Main scope and levels 4 and 5 constituting the Sub-scope. More information on the structure of the MLA can be found under IAF PR 4:2010 Structure of IAF MLA and Endorsed Normative Documents in Procedure Documents (PR Series).

Although the IAF MLA is signed by individual accreditation bodies, the IAF MLA relies heavily on the MLA of the three regional accreditation groups; the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA), the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) and the InterAmerican Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC), as it is these groups which perform the majority of the peer evaluation activity not the IAF.

To gain confidence in the work of the regional accreditation groups, the IAF evaluated and accepted the process and outcomes of the three regional accreditation group MLAs (EA, PAC and IAAC) for the Main scopes of ISO/IEC 17021 and ISO/IEC Guide 65 and the sub-scopes of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

Regional accreditation groups are evaluated every four years by the IAF. Membership of the IAF MLA is recognised as being satisfied by membership of any of the EA MLA, the PAC MLA or the IAAC MLA, within the appropriate scope.

IAF is encouraging more of its members to join the MLA as soon as they have passed a rigorous evaluation process to ensure that their accreditation programs are of world standard.  The consequence of joining the IAF MLA is that conformity assessment certificates issued, within the scope of the IAF MLA, by conformity assessment bodies accredited by any one of the members of the IAF MLA will be recognised in the world wide IAF program.

Contact details of the accreditation bodies which are signatories to the MLA are listed on the IAF Members pages.  Those members which are signatories are denoted by “Date Admitted to the MLA”.

Details of the signatories of the IAF MLA programs at the dates shown are listed in the following document:

IAF MLA Committee Members (IAF MLA MC 17) including MLA Signatories and associated scopes

About Us

Accreditation is the independent evaluation of conformity assessment bodies against recognised standards to ensure their impartiality and competence. Through the application of national and international standards, government, procurers and consumers can 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 conformity assessment bodies are subject to oversight by an authoritative body.

Accreditation bodies, which have been evaluated by peers as competent, sign arrangements that enhance the acceptance of products and services across national borders, thereby creating a framework to support international trade through the removal of technical barriers.

These arrangements are managed by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programmes of conformity assessment, and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), in the field of laboratory and inspection accreditation.