by: David Hanlon
Source: IEC Blog (

Most people know the IEC develops international standards. Less well known is that since 1974 IEC has been operating worldwide, global certification services.

The IEC Conformity Assessment Systems are a framework of common rules and methodologies, into which professional conformity assessment bodies (CABs), from all over the world work together through peer assessment to ensure consistent and comparable results.

IEC does not do testing or certification itself. Rather, it is the CABs — professional certification bodies, assessment bodies, inspection bodies, testing laboratories and so on — that do this.
This is very similar to the way in which the IEC develops standards. The IEC does not actually write the technical standards. Rather, it is the subject-matter-experts, from around the world who come and participate in the standards development process, who actually write the standards.

The fundamental value that the IEC global CA Systems create is consistent and comparable conformity assessment results from anywhere in the world.

When a CAB is accredited within its own country, the conformity assessment (CA) results from another participating CAB in another country are recognized and accepted within their country. They recognize each other’s results because they know they would get the same results themselves.

The results are trusted and no duplicate assessments are needed. Therefore, system components, services and products coming from anywhere in the world that have been assessed through an IEC CA System can be trusted to conform with the required standards.

It will not always be necessary to prove conformity with the standard by using third party certification and in many cases a supplier’s declaration of conformity will be sufficient. However, as the risk increases, then stronger assurance of conformity will be needed.

This means certification by competent conformity assessment bodies and consistent trusted CA results from anywhere in the world. It is the operational model of the IEC global CA Systems that creates value and is considered to be a world’s best practice.
This is achieved through two activities. Firstly, all the participating CABs come together to determine a common understanding and interpretation of the standards, as well as common rules and methodologies for testing and assessment all of which is documented into freely accessible operational documents.

Secondly they conduct peer assessment (they check each other) to ensure that the common interpretation is understood correctly and more importantly, that the common rules and methodologies are being applied. This achieves consistent comparable CA results worldwide.

The IEC CA Systems – IECEE, IECEx, IECQ and IECRE – each cover a dedicated segment of electrotechnology. Their ultimate objective is to facilitate global product acceptance by means of one test, one certification and, when appropriate, one mark valid in all markets.♦

Date of Release: 10 April 2019