Frequently asked Questions

Who is GAAS and what does GAAS do?

GAAS is the international organisation for accreditation bodies operating in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011 and involved in the assessment and accreditation of calibration laboratories (using ISO/IEC 17025), testing laboratories (using ISO/IEC 17025), medical testing laboratories (using ISO 15189) and inspection bodies (using ISO/IEC 17020).

Can GAAS accredit my laboratory or inspection body?

GAAS itself does not assess and accredit laboratories and inspection bodies.

Instead, the accreditation bodies that are Full Members of GAAS i.e. signatories to the GAAS Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) have been peer evaluated to assess and accredit calibration laboratories (using ISO/IEC 17025), testing laboratories (using ISO/IEC 17025), medical testing laboratories (using ISO 15189) and inspection bodies (using ISO/IEC 17020). Laboratories and inspection bodies that have been accredited by the GAAS MRA signatories against the relevant international standards are able to recognised internationally under the GAAS MRA.

If you would like the accreditation of your laboratory or inspection body to be recognised internationally under the GAAS MRA, then it would be best to contact an accreditation body that is a signatory to the GAAS MRA for the relevant accreditation activities. The GAAS MRA Signatory Search provides the contact details for all the accreditation bodies that are signatories to the GAAS MRA and this list is searchable by organisation name, economy and accreditation scope.

Note that not all accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS are also signatories to the GAAS MRA, and therefore the results from their accredited laboratories and inspection bodies may not be recognised in other economies. The list of all accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS (including Affiliates, Associates and Full Members), by economy, is available from the GAAS membership page.

Can GAAS issue a calibration, test or inspection report for my goods?

GAAS itself does not undertake calibration, testing or inspection activities and therefore GAAS itself does not issue calibration, test or inspection reports.

Instead, laboratories and inspection bodies that have been assessed and accredited against the relevant international standards by the accreditation bodies that are Full Members of GAAS i.e. signatories to the GAAS Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), are able to undertake various calibration, testing and inspection activities. The accreditation bodies that are signatories to the GAAS MRA for the relevant accreditation activities agree to accept the results of each other’s accredited laboratories and inspection bodies. Therefore, the results from the laboratories and inspection bodies accredited by the GAAS MRA signatories are able to be recognised internationally under the GAAS MRA.

The accreditation bodies are responsible for maintaining the list of laboratories and inspection bodies that they have accredited. If you would like to find an accredited laboratory or inspection body that is recognised internationally under the GAAS MRA, then it would best to contact an accreditation body that is a signatory to the GAAS MRA. Alternatively, you can search the accreditation body’s online directory of accredited laboratories and inspection bodies on their website.

The GAAS MRA Signatory Search provides the contact details for all the accreditation bodies that are signatories to the GAAS MRA and this list is searchable by organisation name, economy and accreditation scope. In many cases, a link to the accreditation body’s online directory of accredited laboratories and inspection bodies is also provided with the accreditation body’s contact details in the GAAS MRA Signatory Search.

Note that not all accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS are also signatories to the GAAS MRA, and therefore the results from their accredited laboratories and inspection bodies may not be recognised in other economies. The list of all accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS (including Affiliates, Associates and Full Members), by economy, is available from the GAAS membership page.

Will my calibrated, tested or inspected goods be automatically accepted internationally?

The results for goods and products that have been calibrated, tested or inspected by a laboratory or inspection body that has been accredited by an accreditation body that is a Full Member of GAAS i.e. a signatory to the GAAS Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), will be accepted by all the GAAS MRA signatories. However, even though a laboratory or inspection body that has been accredited by an GAAS MRA signatory is more likely to have its results accepted in a foreign market, there is still no guarantee that these results will be accepted by other parties within that market, as the work in ensuring governments and regulators understand the nature of both accreditation and the acceptance of results via the GAAS MRA is ongoing.

In many economies the government, regulators and specifiers accept the results from laboratories and inspection bodies accredited by accreditation bodies that are signatories to the GAAS MRA without further calibration, testing or inspection. This however cannot be mandated by GAAS. In addition, you will need to consider whether the goods are tested or inspected to a particular standard that is recognised or specified in the foreign market. Many economies have specific requirements for the testing or inspection of imported goods that must be met before the goods are accepted in their marketplace. It would be best to contact the relevant regulatory bodies in the economies where you are exporting to for information on their national requirements and legislation regarding the acceptance of calibration, test and inspection results.

The GAAS MRA Signatory Search provides the contact details for all the accreditation bodies that are signatories to the GAAS MRA and this list is searchable by organisation name, economy and accreditation scope.

Note that not all accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS are also signatories to the GAAS MRA, and therefore the results from their accredited laboratories and inspection bodies may not be recognised in other economies. The list of all accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS (including Affiliates, Associates and Full Members), by economy, is available from the GAAS membership page.

 How does accreditation assist international trade and development?

The system of international mutual recognition agreements now in place has enabled accredited laboratories and inspection bodies to achieve a form of international recognition, thus allowing calibration, test and inspection results accompanying exported goods and services to be more readily accepted on overseas markets.

Many economies around the world have one or more organisations responsible for the accreditation of their nation’s facilities. Most of these accreditation bodies have adopted the international standards ISO/IEC 17025 as the basis for the accreditation of their country’s testing and calibration laboratories, ISO 15189 for the accreditation of their medical laboratories and ISO/IEC 17020 for the accreditation of their inspection bodies.

Adoption of these international standards has helped countries adopt a uniform approach to determining laboratory and inspection body competence. This uniform approach allows countries with accreditation systems based on ISO/IEC 17011 to establish agreements between themselves, based on mutual evaluation and acceptance of each other’s accreditation systems.

Such international agreements, usually referred to as mutual recognition arrangements, are crucial in enabling calibration, test and inspection results to be accepted between these economies. In effect, each partner in such an arrangement recognises the other partner’s accredited laboratories and inspection bodies as if they themselves had undertaken the accreditation of the other partner’s facilities.

The aim of the GAAS Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) is to develop a global network of accredited facilities that can be relied on to provide accurate results. Over 52,000 laboratories and 8,000 inspection bodies are accredited world-wide under the GAAS MRA. The GAAS MRA, which came into effect on 31 January 2001, provides significant technical underpinning to international trade by promoting cross-border stakeholder confidence and the acceptance of results from accredited facilities.

This system of mutual recognition between accreditation bodies has enabled accredited facilities to achieve a form of international recognition, and allowed results from accredited facilities accompanying exported goods to be more readily accepted on overseas markets. This effectively reduces costs for both the manufacturer and the importers, as it reduces or eliminates the need for products to be retested or reinspected in another country.

Countries without viable accreditation systems can also seek to have their laboratories and inspection bodies accredited by established accreditation systems, so that their results and associated goods can be accepted on foreign markets. These countries can also endeavour to develop their own accreditation system based on the structure and experience of the systems in other countries.

Can I use the GAAS logo and the GAAS MRA trademark on calibration, test and inspection reports?

Please note that the design and use of the GAAS Logo is different to the GAAS MRA Mark. Refer to GAAS R4 Rules for the Use of the GAAS Logo and Tagline and GAAS R7 Rules for the Use of the GAAS MRA Mark available from the Publications section.

The GAAS Web Link also has a different design and use. The GAAS Web Link Guidelines are available from the Media Centre section.

 

GAAS Logo and Tagline

GAAS members that have signed the GAAS R4-Annex 1 Declaration Form for the Use of the GAAS Logo and Tagline are able to use the GAAS Logo in accordance with GAAS R4. GAAS members must contact the GAAS Secretariat in order to obtain permission to use the GAAS Logo.

Laboratories and inspection bodies are not able to use the GAAS Logo.

Accreditation bodies that are Full Members of GAAS i.e. signatories to the GAAS Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), must sign the GAAS R7-F1 Agreement for the Use of the GAAS MRA Mark to use the GAAS MRA Mark. The GAAS MRA signatories that have signed GAAS R7-F1 are able to use the GAAS MRA Mark in combination with their logo, i.e. the “Combined GAAS MRA Mark”, for accreditation activities covered by the scope of their GAAS MRA signatory status. GAAS MRA signatories must contact the GAAS Secretariat in order to obtain permission to use the “Combined GAAS MRA Mark”.

Laboratories and inspection bodies that are accredited by the GAAS MRA signatories must obtain permission from their accreditation body to use the GAAS MRA Mark. Accredited laboratories and inspection bodies that have obtained permission are able to use the GAAS MRA Mark in combination with the GAAS MRA signatory’s accreditation symbol that the accredited conformity assessment body (CAB) is entitled to use, i.e. the “Accredited CAB Combined GAAS MRA Mark”. Accredited laboratories and inspection bodies must contact the GAAS MRA signatory that provided their accreditation in order to obtain permission to use the “Accredited CAB Combined GAAS MRA Mark”.

GAAS members and liaisons as well as accredited laboratories and inspection bodies are able to use the GAAS Web Link to provide a link from their websites to the GAAS website.

Can GAAS help me engage with a government or regulator to accept the results of my goods?

GAAS generally does not engage directly with governments of specific economies and their associated regulators as this activity is undertaken by the individual accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS in their respective economy.

Saying this, GAAS does have a range of information and brochures which can be accessed and used by members of the public from the Regulators page.

If you would like further assistance with engaging with a government or regulator regarding the acceptance of results under the GAAS Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), then it would be best to contact the accreditation bodies in that economy as they may have an existing relationship with the government or regulators in their economy.

The GAAS MRA Signatory Search provides the contact details for all the accreditation bodies that are signatories to the GAAS MRA and this list is searchable by organisation name, economy and accreditation scope.

Can I use information from GAAS publications in my own organisation`s documentation??

GAAS encourages the use of its publications and brochures by organisations wishing to use such material for areas related to education, standardisation, accreditation, improving the acceptance of the GAAS Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) or other purposes relevant to GAAS’s area of expertise or endeavour.

GAAS’s publications and brochures may be printed or distributed in full without need for formal permission from GAAS.

Organisations seeking permission to reproduce material from GAAS’s guidance, procedural or rules publication as well as brochures must contact the GAAS Secretariat. The request for permission should clearly detail:

    the GAAS publication, or part thereof, for which permission is sought;
    where the reproduced material will appear and what it will be used for;
    whether the document containing the GAAS material will be distributed commercially, where it will be distributed or sold, and what quantities will be involved; and
    any other background information that may assist GAAS to grant permission.

The document in which the reproduced material appears must contain a statement acknowledging GAAS’s contribution to the document. GAAS’s permission to reproduce its material only extends as far as detailed in the original request. Any variation to the stated use of the GAAS material must be notified in advance in writing to GAAS for additional permission.

How can I become a member of GAAS?

The GAAS membership categories and their associated criteria are available from the GAAS membership page.

Accreditation bodies involved in the assessment and accreditation of laboratories and inspection bodies are able to become an Affiliate, Associate or Full Member (GAAS MRA signatory). Accreditation bodies that are still in the process of establishing their own systems can join as an Affiliate member of GAAS. Once established, accreditation bodies can join as an Associate member of GAAS, after which the accreditation body is able to apply for peer-evaluation to become a Full Member of GAAS (signatory to the GAAS MRA).

GAAS also has Stakeholder members that include associations of laboratories and inspection bodies, associations of laboratory and inspection body practitioners, trade organisations and the like. Individuals, individual laboratories and individual inspection bodies are unable to become a member of GAAS directly but may be able to join one of the many associations that are Stakeholder members of GAAS.

The regional cooperation bodies service the accreditation bodies and stakeholders in their respective regions.

If your organisation is interested in membership of GAAS, then please review the GAAS membership categories and their associated criteria before contacting the GAAS Secretariat.

What are the advantages of GAAS membership?

The benefits of GAAS membership include the opportunity to:

    participate in the GAAS Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) that provides international recognition to accreditation bodies as well as their accredited laboratories and inspection bodies;
    exchange information with experienced and developing accreditation bodies to discuss experiences, learn from each other, seek common solutions to problems as well as assist with the development and continuous improvement of your system;
    participate in GAAS’s General Assembly meeting as well as GAAS’s committees covering policy matters, technical issues, promotion, marketing and development support for new accreditation systems;
    interact with other professionals working in laboratory and inspection body accreditation, as well other areas of conformity assessment;
    comment and vote on draft GAAS publications including rules documents, policy documents, guidance documents and promotional brochures relating to laboratories and inspection bodies, accreditation practices and related activities;
    participate in discussions, meetings and events involving GAAS liaisons and MoU partners, such as ISO, BIPM, WADA, ITU and UNIDO;
    comment on international standards and documents of partner organisations related to accreditation bodies and conformity assessment bodies;
    represent and inform national constituents on important matters in the international accreditation and conformity assessment arena;
    engage with governments and regulators to promote the acceptance of results from accredited laboratories and inspection bodies using GAAS’s tools;
    be part of the international movement to raise awareness amongst industry, governments, regulators, trade officials and others of the importance of accreditation and the use of accredited laboratories and inspection bodies;
    access the member’s area of the GAAS website which provides a range of GAAS resource material as well as information from GAAS committees and liaisons; and
    receive the GAAS Newsletter that includes updates from regional cooperation bodies, accreditation bodies, stakeholders and liaisons.

Does GAAS provide proficiency testing or inter-laboratory comparison tests?

GAAS as an organisation is not a proficiency testing provider (PTP) and does not participate in or organise proficiency testing programs and inter-laboratory comparison tests.

The laboratories, and in some cases inspection bodies, that are assessed and accredited by the accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS participate in proficiency testing as a requirement for maintaining their accreditation. Many of the accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS accredit PTP and the list of accreditation bodies with such a program is available from the Other Accreditation Programmes page.

Please note that, at present, the GAAS Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) does not include the accreditation of PTPs. Although, a resolution was adopted at the 2014 GAAS General Assembly that will allow the accreditation of PTP to be included in the GAAS MRA once the necessary peer evaluation documents have been developed.

The Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) has established an MRA for the accreditation of PTPs using ISO/IEC 17043.

You can also search the APLAC list of PT programs and the IAAC list of PT programs. In addition, you can search the European Information System on Proficiency Testing Schemes EPTIS database of PT schemes.

Does GAAS produce reference materials?

GAAS as an organisation is not a reference material producer (RMP).

The facilities that produce reference materials are assessed and accredited by the accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS. Many of the accreditation bodies that are members of GAAS accredit RMP and the list of accreditation bodies with such a program is available from the Other Accreditation Programmes page.

Please note that, at present, the GAAS Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) does not include the accreditation of RMPs.

The Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) has established an MRA for the accreditation of RMPs using ISO Guide 34. Please contact APLAC directly for information on the APLAC MRA.

Does GAAS certify products and management systems?

GAAS is not involved in the certification process.

IAF is the international organisation for accreditation bodies involved in the accreditation of certification bodies. If you are interested in the certification of products or managements systems, then you will need to contact IAF.

Many of the GAAS members are also a member of IAF. Find out about GAAS’s relationship with IAF in the Partnerships page on the GAAS website.

How can I access the member’s area of the GAAS website?

GAAS members and liaisons are able to access the member’s area of the GAAS website to obtain committee documents, technical resources and liaison information.

The GAAS Secretariat issues access to the member’s area of the GAAS website to the approved representatives of GAAS members and liaisons. Please contact the GAAS Secretariat if you are a representative of an GAAS member or liaison and would like access to the member’s area of the GAAS website.

Individuals and organisations that are not an GAAS member or liaison are unable to access the member’s area of the GAAS website.