What is ISO certification?

A few days ago I got an email titled “ISO certification needed immediately!”. The sender said he needed “ISO certification” and asked me to call him immediately.

Now, I’m a pretty busy guy. This guy didn’t appear to know what he wanted, and I was in no hurry to waste time on a phone call. I replied that I was very busy, but I’d be happy to answer by email any questions he had about getting accredited to ISO9001.

Apparently my new friend had trouble reading, as the next day he sent me another urgent email “Did you get my email??? Call me immediately!!”. He also forwarded an email from a freight company stating that his freight would not be released until he produced an ISO certificate. I have no idea what kind of ISO certificate is required to release cargo from a government agency.

I deal strictly with ISO9001, the quality management standard. However there are many other ISO standards available. Did you know about ISO3166? It’s the standard “to define internationally recognised codes of letters and/or numbers that we can use when we refer to countries and subdivisions”. And how about ISO 14001? It’s the standard many organizations use to manage their environmental responsibilites. There’s ISO:26000, which provides guidance on how businesses and organizations can operate in a socially responsible way. Do you build stand-alone gas mixers intended for medical use and for connection to a medical gas supply system? Then ISO 11195 is your standard. Do you run a testing and calibration laboratory? You might want to check out ISO 17025.

There are thousands of different ISO standards. When telling someone you “need an ISO cert”, it would be very helpful to give a few more details on what it is that you’re actually trying to accomplish.

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