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International Accreditation Forum Announces Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA) for Persons Is Ready for Applications

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) recently announced that it will expand its Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA) to apply to eligible personnel certification bodies worldwide. The announcement signifies a major, historic step in the field of personnel certification, allowing for the international recognition of certification bodies accredited by recognized accreditation bodies. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), an accreditation body and a U.S. representative to the IAF, applauds this development, which is expected to bolster the portability and effectiveness of personnel certifications the world over.

The IAF is a worldwide association of conformity assessment accreditation bodies and other related groups. The organization works to support development of a single international conformity assessment framework, with the goal of assuring the competence and impartiality of accredited conformity assessment bodies and the dependability and portability of the certificates issued by these bodies. Under the MLA, certification bodies accredited by organizations that are MLA signatories will be formally recognized by other signatory accreditation bodies in countries around the world, helping to enable personnel credentials obtained in one country to be accepted as valid and legitimate in other nations and making it easier for skilled workers to obtain work internationally.

In order to become a signatory to the MLA, an accreditation body must demonstrate that it meets the requirements associated with ISO/IEC 17011, Conformity assessment - General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies, which represents the global benchmark for accreditation body practice, and that it is effectively collecting and assessing evidence demonstrating that its accredited personnel certification bodies fulfill the requirements of ISO/IEC 17024, General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification Systems of Persons. As part of the process, peer review teams are used to examine whether an accreditation body seeking to become an MLA signatory is in full compliance with relevant requirements.

Once a given body officially becomes a signatory, it must recognize as equivalent the accreditations by other signatories that feature the respective scope. In addition to the planned scope focusing on personnel certification, the MLA currently applies to accreditation related to product certification and management systems. ANSI became a signatory to the IAF MLA for its product certification accreditation program in October 2007 [see related story]. The ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) is also a signatory to the MLA for management systems.

To learn more about the IAF MLA, visit the MLA section of IAF's official website.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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