ISO/IEC 17020 Conformity assessment — requirements for the operation of bodies performing inspection

Inspection activities may involve the examination of a product, process, service, installation or the design and determination of its conformity with specific requirements.



What is ISO/IEC 17020?

ISO/IEC 17020 specifies the requirements for competent bodies performing inspection activities.

Inspection bodies conduct their activities for the purpose of providing information to their clients, whether internal or external, on compliance with regulatory and/or contractual obligations.

ISO/IEC 17020 accreditation

Governments and industries around the world are increasingly requiring the use of accredited inspection services. Inspection findings and outcomes contribute to product and asset management decisions and it is essential they are reliable. To ensure confidence, interested parties including clients, regulators and users, often ask that inspection bodies meet the requirements of ISO/IEC 17020.

Asset-critical information demands more than ‘trust us’ assurances. Accreditation is a statement by an independent accreditation body, such as NATA, that an inspection body has formally demonstrated its competence to carry out specific inspections.

NATA accreditation means that an inspection body has shown to an independent team of industry peers that it meets the requirements of ISO/IEC 17020 and competently performs the inspections as covered by the accreditation.

ISO/IEC 17020 accreditation is accepted both nationally and internationally as a reliable indicator of technical competence.

Accreditation benefits

Accredited inspection bodies benefit from:

  • The peer interaction of the assessment
  • A third party confirming their fulfilment of the requirements of ISO/IEC 17020
  • Public recognition of their accreditation
  • Enhanced acceptance (domestically and internationally), of their reports and findings from the accreditation
  • Access to some prequalification listings and tenders because of the accreditation.

Clients, asset owners and specifiers benefit from:

  • A third party has assessed accredited bodies for fulfilment of the requirements of ISO/IEC 17020 and the technical standards on the scope of accreditation, reducing the effort needed to qualify these suppliers
  • Accreditation can be confirmed through a public website
  • Accredited bodies can endorse reports, providing a mark of credibility to enhance acceptance of reports
  • Accreditation includes domestic and international acceptance of endorsed reports.

Regulators and scheme owners benefit from:

  • Accreditation can include industry guides and regulations in the scope of accreditation, allowing specific identification of the competencies of the inspection body
  • NATA will work with regulators and scheme owners to deliver tailored assessment of the inspection bodies supporting the scheme or regulation.

Accreditation requirements

ISO/IEC 17020 ensures that inspection bodies are independent and their staff act impartially in delivery of their inspection activities. 

The Standard categorises inspection bodies (as type A, B or C) dependent on their independence.

The criteria contained in the ISO/IEC 17020 Standard include:

  • General requirements, including impartiality and independence
  • Structural requirements, including administrative requirements and organisational management
  • Resource requirements, including personnel, facilities and equipment, and subcontracting
  • Process requirements including inspection methods and procedures, handling inspection items and samples, inspection records, inspection reports and inspection certificates, complaints and appeals
  • Management system requirements

Areas of accreditation

NATA’s inspection accreditation program currently recognises inspection bodies across agriculture and abattoirs, mining, construction and industrial applications, electrical and electromagnetic safety, medical devices, occupational hygiene and commercial building. New areas of inspection are always being offered and NATA is ever expanding its service to accredit these.

Accredited inspection bodies support Australian industry in design verification, fabrication inspection, in-service inspection, survey of sites and installations as well as grading of product. They also offer cargo and safety inspections, check lifting equipment and coatings application.

Among the bodies accredited by NATA to ISO/IEC 17020 are private and government inspection bodies, single-person companies, family businesses, industry associations and multinational entities.

NATA also works with inspection scheme owners and regulators, who rely on inspection services, to determine and deliver accreditation solutions which satisfy their needs.

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NATA is a signatory to the APAC and ILAC Mutual Recognition Agreements for inspection accreditation bodies. While there are no general arrangements giving accredited inspection bodies unquestioned access to international markets, inspection accreditation is recognised in the following areas:

  • Notified Bodies for acceptance of reports in the intergovernmental Mutual Recognition Arrangement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the European Union
  • Notified Bodies in the intergovernmental Mutual Recognition Arrangement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the European Free Trade Area nations
  • Approved bodies in the intergovernmental Mutual Recognition Arrangement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the United Kingdom

The NATA Accreditation Criteria (NAC) packages are made up of numerous documents which are available for download.

There are General Accreditation Criteria which apply to all facilities, and Specific Accreditation Criteria tailored for industry sectors and activities.

  • General NATA Documents
  • General Accreditation Criteria
  • Specific Accreditation Criteria

General Accreditation Guidance and Specific Accreditation Guidance documents present information on common technical or operational issues.

  • General Accreditation Guidance
  • Specific Accreditation Guidance
  • General Accreditation Forms

Package information related to ISO 17020 Conformity assessment

17020 NATA Accreditation Criteria (NAC) Package

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Benefits of being a NATA accredited organisation

NATA accredits organisations to perform testing and inspection activities for their products and services. This gives consumers the assurance they need to make safe, healthy and reliable choices. When you choose to become NATA accredited, you can be sure of a number of competitive advantages for your business.
NATA members receive a globally-recognised, peer-reviewed and government endorsed accreditation that provides a unique level of assurance to members, their clients and the community.
Our accreditation provides an independent benchmark for technical competence. Receiving NATA accreditation demonstrates to customers your organisation’s commitment to quality, safety and reliability of products and services.
NATA accreditation is both nationally and internationally recognised. This provides a competitive advantage when compared to non-accredited organisations and ensures you are market-ready to capitalise on trade opportunities.
NATA has been training individuals and teams both nationally and internationally for over 20 years and enjoys a global reputation for the quality of its courses and programs. Our active role in international accreditation education has seen us conduct training in over 20 countries.
NATA’s long standing and active involvement with international groups enables our members to gain international recognition for their accreditation and minimises the need for multiple assessments from different suppliers.
NATA provides innovative and timely business solutions that meet the needs of our members and fulfil the expectations of the community. We have the experience and resources to ensure your accreditation provides you and your organisation with unique advantages.