12. MLA Signatories
The mechanism by which IAF implements its objective is the IAF Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA). 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 recognize the certificates issued by conformity assessment bodies accredited by all other signatories of the IAF MLA, with the appropriate scope.
The IAF established the first IAF MLA for Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001) on the 22 January 1998 when fourteen members signed the Arrangement in Guangzhou, China. The IAF then established separate MLAs for Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14001) and Product certification (a framework MLA based on ISO/IEC Guide 65) which became operational at their General Assembly held in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2004 when 27 accreditation bodies signed the EMS MLA and 21 accreditation bodies signed the Product MLA. In 2008 the IAF agreed to combine the three MLAs into one and introduce scopes to the IAF MLA. The IAF MLA now 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 at IAF PR 4:2010 Structure of IAF MLA and Endorsed Normative Documents.
Although the IAF MLA is signed by individual accreditation bodies, the IAF MLA relies heavily on the MLA of the three Regional Accreditation Group; the European co-operation for Accreditation (EA), the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) and the InterAmerican Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC), as it is the Regional Accreditation 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 for the Main scope of ISO/IEC 17021 and the sub-scope of ISO 9001 and two Regional Accreditation Groups, EA and PAC for the Main scopes of ISO/IEC 17021 and ISO/IEC Guide 65 and Sub-scope of ISO 14001. Regional Accreditation Groups are evaluated every four years by the IAF. Membership of the IAF MLA is recognized as being satisfied by membership of any of the EA MLA, the PAC MLA or the IAAC MLA, within the appropriate scope.
The number of IAF MLA Signatories at 23 November 2010 is as follows:
- Main scope of ISO/IEC 17021 and the sub-scope of ISO 9001: 3 Regional Accreditation Groups (EA, PAC & IAAC) and 46 Accreditation Bodies
- Main scope of ISO/IEC 17021 and the sub-scope of ISO 14001: 2 Regional Accreditation Groups (EA & PAC) and 41 Accreditation Bodies
- Main scope of ISO/IEC Guide 65: 2 Regional Accreditation Groups (EA & PAC) and 38 Accreditation Bodies
Note: There are currently no sub-scopes under the main scope of ISO/IEC Guide 65. To include sub-scopes under the main scope of ISO/IEC Guide 65, schemes have to be endorsed by the IAF. The process for the endorsement of schemes can be found at IAF PL 3:2009 Policy and Procedure for Expansion of the Scope of the MLA.
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:
List of IAF MLA Group Members - September 2011