ISO 17021-1:2015

The newly published ISO 17021-1:2015, Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems, Part 1: Requirements, deals with the competence of certification bodies and their auditors.

The new standard applies to the auditing and certification of all types of management systems in order to increase their value to organizations worldwide. This first edition of ISO 17021-1:2015 replaces the second edition of ISO 17021:2011.

Certification Process

Audits and certifications to management system standards are a major asset to international trade and essential to the long-term health of the world economy. Certificates are widely used in global markets to establish confidence between business partners and between organizations and their customers, to qualify suppliers in supply chains, and as a requirement to quote for procurement contracts.

Certification bodies that use the new ISO 17021-1 standard will be able to ensure competent audit teams, with adequate resources, following a consistent process, and reporting audit results in a consistent manner. It will also help create confidence among regulators, consumers, suppliers, and other stakeholders that certificates granted by one certification body are effectively equivalent to those offered by another.

What’s New?

How does the new ISO 17021-1:2015 differ from its predecessor, ISO 17021:2011? It has been updated to focus more on how certification services are delivered by a certification body, and therefore, the improvements are meant to:

  • Bolster the effectiveness of operational and organization control by certification bodies of remote offices, regardless of their organizational structure;
  • Enhance an additional risk management approach; and
  • Define audit time and audit duration, and then focus requirements for justification on audit duration, which is the time from the opening to the closing meeting.

Family of Standards

ISO 17021-1 is the latest in the management system certification family of standards, which includes these six additional standards for specific types of management systems:

  • ISO/TS 17021-2 for environmental management systems
  • ISO/TS 17021-3 for quality management systems
  • ISO/TS 17021-4 for event sustainability management systems
  • ISO/TS 17021-5 for asset management systems
  • ISO/TS 17021-6 for business continuity management systems
  • ISO/TS 17021-7 for road traffic safety management systems

ISO and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), the association of national accreditation bodies, have agreed on a two-year transition period from the publication date of ISO 17021-1:2015 for certification bodies to bring their operations and processes in line with the requirements of the new standard.

A joint ISO-IAF Informative Document, “Information on the Transition of Management System Accreditation to ISO 17021-1:2015 from ISO 17021:2011” is available at this web page.