There are three different categories of IAF membership:
IAF Members that are not yet signatories
Membership of IAF is open to accreditation bodies that conduct and administer programmes by which they accredit bodies for validation/verification or certification of management systems, products, processes, services, personnel and other programmes of conformity assessment. When an accreditaiton body first joins IAF, it signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to receive a basic level of membership (MoU membership). This basic membership does not mean that an accreditation body is a signatory to the IAF Multilateral Recognition Agreement (MLA). Upon joining IAF, accreditation bodies must declare their intention to join the IAF MLA recognising the equivalence of other Members’ accreditations to their own.
IAF MLA Signatories
Accreditation Body Members of IAF achieve IAF MLA Signatory status after a full evaluation of their operations by a peer evaluation team, which is tasked to ensure that the applicant complies fully with both international standards and IAF documents. Once an accreditation body is a signatory of the IAF MLA, it is required to recognise and promote certificates and validation and verification statements issued by conformity assessment bodies accredited by all other signatories within the scope of the IAF MLA.
Association Members are organisations or associations that represent a similar group of entities internationally or within an economy or region. These entities are associated with the programmes of IAF Accreditation Body Members and fully support IAF objectives.
Regional Accreditation Group Members consist of associations of accreditation bodies, and possibly other bodies, that cooperate within an identified geographic region to establish and maintain a multilateral recognition agreement based on a peer evaluation system, and represent the interests of accredited entities, industry, users and similar organisations that engage in, are subject to, make use of, accept or rely on conformity assessment results from bodies accredited by Accreditation Body Members of IAF, and which support the purpose of IAF. Regional Accreditation Groups are invited to be represented in committees established to enhance cooperation between IAF and the Regional Accreditation Groups.
Recognized Regional Accreditation Group
A Recognized Regional Accreditation Group is a Regional Accreditation Group that has been peer evaluated to confirm that its membership and MLA peer evaluation criteria and processes meet or exceed IAF requirements.
IAF also has non-Member Observers. In cases where the Board believes it is in the best interests of IAF Members to develop closer relationships with a particular entity, the Board may grant Observer status to such an entity for a period not exceeding three years. Observers may be invited to attend IAF meetings and/or participate in technical work in a manner determined by the Board, but are not be eligible to cast a vote on any matter put to the Members for resolution.
More information can be obtained from Section 3.01 of the IAF Bylaws.