How to benefit from the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA)

  • You will benefit most from the ILAC MRA if you do your research before you make any decision about importing a product. (The same principles apply to exporting a product to an overseas economy.) 

It is important to understand the requirements, if any, for conformity assessment (testing and/or inspection) on the product/material you will be importing.

It is the responsibility of the importer to:

    • identify any specific requirements for testing and/ or inspection of products intended for import into Australia; and
    • clarify what the specifier/regulator will accept in regard to testing and/or inspection.

NATA cannot advise you on specific importing requirements.

An obvious consideration is whether there are particular compliance requirements for the product specified in Australian national and/or State regulations e.g. maximum levels of contaminants. Another consideration is whether the conformity assessment must be performed according to a particular standard or code, such as an Australian Standard or an ISO or IEC Standard.

The ILAC MRA only applies where the conformity assessment (i.e. testing and/or inspection):

    • has been performed by a laboratory (in the case of testing) or inspection body (in the case of inspection) that is accredited by an ILAC MRA signatory for testing and/or inspection, as relevant; and
    • is covered by the scope of accreditation of the laboratory or inspection body.

The easiest way to be assured that the conformity assessment activity meets these requirements is for the results of the testing and/or inspection to be reported in an ‘endorsed report’, that is, a report bearing the symbol of the accreditation body that has accredited the laboratory / inspection body. Reports issued under the auspices of the ILAC MRA may also bear the Accredited Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) Combined MRA Mark, that is, a combined symbol featuring both the symbol of the accreditation body and the ILAC MRA Mark. This gives users additional assurance that the conformity assessment activities are covered by the ILAC MRA.

Where a report is not endorsed, it is up to the importer to confirm the accreditation status of the laboratory or inspection body and that it is recognised under the ILAC MRA, that the testing or inspection has been conducted in accordance with the relevant standard or regulatory requirements and, that the scope of accreditation of the laboratory or inspection body covers the standard or references the regulatory requirement.

Any questions about the validity of the test or inspection report should be directed to the accreditation body that has accredited the laboratory or inspection body.

  • Find a suitable conformity assessment body

Visit the website of the relevant ILAC MRA signatory to identify a suitable conformity assessment body. There are around 100 ILAC MRA signatories world-wide, so it is likely that the economy from which you are importing your product(s) has an accreditation body that is an ILAC MRA signatory. It does not however mean that there will be a suitable conformity assessment body (see below).

  • Discuss your needs with the conformity assessment body (CAB) you have chosen
    • Ask for a copy of the CAB’s accreditation certificate(s). Check it is current and that the issuing accreditation body is an ILAC MRA signatory.
    • Ask for a copy of the CAB’s scope of accreditation and ask for your requirements to be highlighted for you, for example, product type, parameter(s), test/inspection method, as relevant.
    • If the specifier/regulator has specified particular Australian Standard (or other Standard or code), this should be detailed in the scope of accreditation.
    • If the conformity assessment body advises that it is accredited for “equivalent” methods or standards, the acceptability of these other standards should be checked with the Australian specifier/regulator. (If specifications call up Australian Standards then there is a good chance that an “equivalent” standard will not be accepted.) 

  • Inform the conformity assessment body that you require a report, in English, either endorsed with the Accredited CAB ILAC Combined Mark or with the accreditation body’s symbol. 

The ILAC MRA is designed to facilitate trade, but the acceptance of reports issued by laboratories and inspection bodies accredited by signatories to the ILAC MRA it is not mandatory. The responsible specifier/regulator will make the final decision about acceptance.

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