Each of the IEC Conformity Assessment (CA) Systems is a global membership organization.
Each of the conformity assessment bodies (CAB) that are a member of one of the IEC CA Systems must comply with ISO/IEC 17000 series, which is the international standard for CA activities. Holding national accreditation, while not a requirement of the IEC CA Systems, does helpto demonstrate that the CAB is able to perform the scope of the work required by the respective IEC CA System.
Peer assessment serves as a tool to confirm that CABs comply both with the ISO/IEC 17000 series of standards as well as the IEC CA Systems rules and operating procedures. Regular peer assessment helps ensure that CABs continue to meet IEC CA System rules and that test results remain consistent, comparable, and reproducible. This builds trust and is the fundamental reason why every member participating in a given scheme of a global IEC CA System commits to accept the test reports and certificates of the other members who participate in the same scheme (no matter where they are located). No duplicate testing is permitted.
Accreditation and peer-assessment are complementary and help establish that the CAB has:
the right equipment
qualified people who know how to test to a standard
the know-how needed to apply the rules of the relevant IEC CA System to ensure reliable, consistent and globally acceptable results
Any company that needs to obtain certification for a given product can contact any member of an IEC CA System in any country. Product tests and assessment results that underpin IEC CA certificates issued by a member of a given scheme of an IEC CA System are fully portable. Every other participating member of that scheme commits to recognizing all certificates and may not redo tests that have already been done. In many cases, the product can enter all member markets directly.
Many countries, including many developing countries, accept products that carry an IEC CA Systems certificate. This gives companies access to more markets faster and significantly lowers the cost of doing business. It also gives consumers access to safer products of consistent quality at a lower cost.