UKAS is the UK National Accreditation Body for Certification Bodies offering ISO 9001, ISO14001, ISO 18001 and other certification. They effectively ‘audit the auditors’. We have to undergo a programme of UKAS audits, where we are audited against ISO 17021, to ensure we comply with its requirements.
There are a range of ‘non-accredited’ Certification Bodies, which are not accredited by the National Accreditation Body, although they may be accredited by ‘someone else’. It should be noted that there is only one NAB: UKAS.
The general advice on the Internet is to go through a UKAS accredited Certification body. The Chartered Quality Institute discusses this in detail:
The main thinking behind this is that many customers require UKAS accredited certification, as the non-regulated part of the industry has ‘variable approaches and quality’. The non-regulated part of the industry ranges from competent Certification Bodies who provide a good level of service and professionalism, through to ‘certificate mills’ who do not effectively audit a company.
Our advice is to go for a UKAS accredited Certification Body (Interface-NRM springs to mind!). If you do decide to go for a non-accredited Certification Body, then Buyer Beware!