About NIST

Welcome to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s web site.Founded in 1901 and now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST is one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories. Congress established the agency to remove a major handicap to U.S. industrial competitiveness at the time—a second-rate measurement infrastructure that lagged behind the capabilities of the United Kingdom, Germany, and other economic rivals. Today, NIST measurements support the smallest of technologies—nanoscale devices so tiny that tens of thousands can fit on the end of a single human hair—to the largest and most complex of human-made creations, from earthquake-resistant skyscrapers to wide-body jetliners to global communication networks. We invite you to explore our web site to learn about our current projects, to find out how you can work with us, or to make use of our products and services.

This section of our web site contains basic information about NIST. If you can’t find the information you need, contact Public Inquiries at (301) 975-NIST or


Program Summary

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) administers the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP). NVLAP provides accreditation services through various laboratory accreditation programs (LAPs), which are established on the basis of requests and demonstrated need. Each LAP includes specific test or calibration standards and related methods and protocols assembled to satisfy the unique needs for accreditation in a field of testing or calibration. NVLAP accredits public and private laboratories based on evaluation of their technical qualifications and competence to carry out specific calibrations or tests.

Accreditation requirements are established in accordance with the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR, Title 15, Part 285), NVLAP Procedures and General Requirements, and encompass the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025. Accreditation is granted following successful completion of a process which includes submission of an application and payment of fees by the laboratory, an on-site assessment, resolution of any nonconformities identified during the on-site assessment, participation in proficiency testing, and technical evaluation. The accreditation is formalized through issuance of a Certificate of Accreditation and Scope of Accreditation and publicized by announcement in various government and private media.

NVLAP accreditation is available to commercial laboratories; manufacturers’ in-house laboratories; university laboratories; and federal, state, and local government laboratories. Laboratories located outside the United States may also be accredited if they meet the same requirements as domestic laboratories and pay any additional fees required for travel expenses.

NVLAP provides an unbiased third-party evaluation and recognition of performance. NVLAP accreditation signifies that a laboratory has demonstrated that it operates in accordance with NVLAP management and technical requirements pertaining to quality systems; personnel; accommodation and environment; test and calibration methods; equipment; measurement tractability; sampling; handling of test and calibration items; and test and calibration reports. NVLAP accreditation does not imply any guarantee (certification) of laboratory performance or test/calibration data; it is solely a finding of laboratory competence. A laboratory may cite its accredited status and use the term NVLAP and symbol on reports, stationery, and in business and trade publications, provided that this use does not imply product certification.

Mission, Vision, and Quality Policy

Mission Statement

To deliver high quality, value-driven accreditation services to testing and calibration laboratories by:

  • meeting or exceeding customer expectations;
  • operating to globally accepted requirements for accreditation bodies;
  • promoting world-wide acceptance of test and calibration results of NVLAP-accredited laboratories;
  • and pursuing organizational and technical excellence.

Vision Statement

To be a world-class accreditation body recognized nationally and internationally for raising the bar and setting the standard for excellence in accreditation.

Quality Policy Statement and Objectives

Quality is the responsibility of every NVLAP employee. All NVLAP employees, management and staff alike, are committed to providing high quality accreditation services through the continuous improvement of NVLAP’s management system. This commitment is reflected in NVLAP’s mission and vision statements, as well as the following objectives for quality:

  • to operate an accreditation program that fulfills the requirements of Part 285 of Title 15 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs), and ISO/IEC 17011;
  • to facilitate cross-border trade through the establishment and maintenance of international MRAs;
  • to promote confidence in the technical competence of NVLAP-accredited laboratories and the reliability of their results;
  • to communicate frequently with customers and stakeholders to determine their accreditation needs and requirements;
  • to develop accreditation programs, using balanced input from technical experts, industry, and interested parties;
  • to meet the highest professional standards for integrity, impartiality, and ethical conduct;
  • to manage resources in a manner that maximizes delivered value to customers;
  • to afford employees the opportunity to develop their full potential in a working environment that recognizes individual and group quality achievements and encourages excellence.