This section covers generic FAQs about BSI Group terms, products and services.
- What is a standard?
- What does a BS number mean?
- What are management systems?
- What is certification?
- What is the difference between certification, registration and accreditation?
- What is ISO 9001?
- What is ISO 14001?
- What is a PAS?
- What is the Kitemark®?
- What is CE marking?
- Who owns BSI?
In essence, a standard is an agreed ways of doing something. It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials – a huge range of activities and objects undertaken by organisations and used by their customers.
The display of a British Standard number (eg: BS 1234), on for instance a consumer product, shows that the manufacturer claims to have made the product in accordance with the British Standard.
Sometimes BS will be accompanied by the letters EN and/or ISO. These mean that the standard was developed as a European (EN) or International (ISO) standard and then adopted by the UK as a British Standard.
A management system is a proven framework for managing and continually improving an organisation's policies, procedures and processes.
The best businesses work as complete units with a shared vision. This may encompass information sharing, benchmarking, team working and working to the highest quality and environmental principles.
A management system helps your organisation to achieve these goals through a number of strategies, including process optimisation, management focus and disciplined management thinking.
Certification allows you to demonstrate your commitment to best practice, efficiency and sustainability. You’re showing your clients, partners and shareholders that you meet the highest industry standards. And you’re proving that you care about doing things well. For an ambitious organisation, it’s simply essential.
In the context of management systems standards, "certification" refers to the issuing of written assurance (the certificate) by an independent, external body - such as BSI Management Systems - that has audited an organisation's management system and verified that it conforms to the requirements specified in the standard. "Registration" means that the auditing body then records the certification in its client register.
The organisation's management system has therefore been both certified and registered. For practical purposes, then, the difference between the two terms is not significant and both are acceptable for general use.
That said, "Certification" seems to be the term most widely used worldwide, although registration (from which "registrar" as an alternative to registration/certification body) is often preferred in North America and the UK, and the two are also used interchangeably.
On the contrary, using "accreditation" as an interchangeable alternative for certification or registration is wrong, because it means something different.
In this context, accreditation refers to the formal recognition by a specialised body - an accreditation body - that a certification body is competent to carry out certification in specified business sectors. BSI is among the most respected and reputable management systems certification bodies in the world and is accredited by around 20 local and international bodies.
In simple terms, accreditation is like certification of the certification body. Certificates issued by accredited certification bodies - and known as "accredited certificates" - may be perceived on the market as having increased credibility.
An ISO 9001 quality management systems will help you to continually monitor and manage quality across all operations. As the world’s most widely recognised quality management standard, it outlines ways to achieve, as well as benchmark, consistent performance and service. With ISO 9001 you can put in place processes that allow you to improve the way you operate at all levels.
ISO 14001 is an internationally accepted standard that outlines how to put an effective environmental management system in place. It is designed to help businesses remain commercially successful without overlooking environmental responsibilities. It can also help you to grow while reducing the environmental impact of this growth. By meeting the ISO 14001 requirements, ISO 14001 system provides the framework to allow you to meet increasingly high customer expectations of corporate responsibility as well as legal or regulatory requirements.
A Publicly Available Specification (PAS) is a standard developed by BSI British Standards commissioned by an external organisation. Such external bodies have included, UK Government, trade associations and private companies.
BSI has no shareholders or other “owners”. It is a commercial but non-profit distributing company. Its profits are re-invested in the business. It is not owned by and is independent of government.
The Kitemark is a registered certification mark owned and operated by BSI. It is one of the most recognised symbols of quality and safety and offers true value to consumers, businesses and procurement practices.
With UKAS accreditation - benefits include risk reduction, increased customer satisfaction and access to new customers around the world.
BSI can help you gain easier access into the European market by ensuring your product meets all the CE mark requirements. If you manufacture or import products which fall into the scope of one or more of the New Approach Directives you will then need professional guidance on how to meet all the essential requirements of these directives.