How to become Accredited

NATA offers accreditation for a range of accreditation schemes covering many industries and professions. Organisations can have all or part of their testing, measurement, examination, inspection or calibration activities accredited by NATA. Accreditation is available to any facility in Australia and in some circumstances, to facilities in other economies.

The following is a summary of the key steps in the accreditation process. It should be noted that the order in which the steps are followed may vary between accreditation schemes or in other specific circumstances.

Click here to download more general information. For information on the industries and accreditation programs that NATA offers, see Industries Using NATA Accreditation.

Preliminary Steps

When seeking accreditation with NATA, facilities should familiarise themselves with the NATA Accreditation Criteria (NAC) for the accreditation scheme and industry (Activity Type) relevant to their application. These can be downloaded free of charge from this website.

Application for Accreditation

Applications for accreditation with NATA can be made by any legally identifiable organisation providing testing, inspection, examination, calibration or related services. The application must be made on a prescribed application form and accompanied by the current application fee. Application forms are provided by a NATA technical staff after discussion with the applicant facility.
Each applicant will be required to provide a copy of its management system and technical documentation as advised by NATA.

The Authorised Representative

As part of an application for accreditation, the facility must nominate a person to be its official contact with NATA. The rights and legal obligations of the authorised representative are detailed in the NATA Rules .

At a practical level, the authorised representative is normally a senior staff member who is in a position to make decisions regarding the facility's accreditation and to communicate effectively with colleagues. The authorised representative may also choose to direct NATA to other staff with whom relevant issues may be discussed. The authorised representative is required to notify

NATA within 14 days if:

  • the name or ownership of the facility changes
  • changes in duties or departures of senior key staff occur; or
  • significant changes occur to the functions or accommodation of the facility

To download a Nomination of New Authorised Representative form, click here.

See also Responsibilities of Authorised Representatives.

Advisory Visit

An advisory visit is an informal review of facilities undertaken by a NATA lead assessor to examine the major non-technical elements of the system and identify any significant gaps in relation to the accreditation requirements. Advisory visits may be conducted either prior to or after an application has been made. An initial visit by NATA staff can help prepare a facility for accreditation, and provides an opportunity for the facility to ask questions about the process or NATA.

Assessment

When the facility considers itself ready for evaluation, a mutually convenient time is arranged for the assessment and NATA organises a team of technical assessors in consultation with the facility.
The assessment team consists of:

  • at least one NATA lead assessor who reviews the management system; and
  • one or more specialist volunteer technical assessors chosen according to their specialist technical knowledge and matched as closely to the activities of the facility as possible.

Consideration is given to possible concerns about conflicts of interest in selecting technical assessors. The size of the assessment team is dependent upon the areas that must be covered in the course of the assessment.
Compliance of an applicant facility with accreditation criteria is determined primarily by an on-site assessment of its resources, procedures and documentation. The objective is to establish whether the facility can competently perform the activities for which accreditation is sought. The assessment team investigates the operation of the facility against the relevant NATA Accreditation Criteria (NAC) and reports its findings to the facility seeking accreditation.

The assessment involves a thorough evaluation of all the elements of the facility's operation that contribute to the production of accurate and reliable data. These elements include:

  • management system
  • staffing, including training and supervision
  • methods, including validation/verification
  • quality control
  • proficiency testing
  • equipment, including calibration
  • recording and reporting of results
  • the physical environment in which the activities are performed.

Assessments will take at least one full working day and may extend over a number of days. They involve discussions with management and technical staff, a review of documented procedures and associated records, and witnessing of activities where practicable.

An exit meeting is held at the conclusion of the assessment. In this the assessment findings are detailed by the NATA lead assessor to the authorised representative and other members of staff at the discretion of the authorised representative. The purpose of the exit meeting is to allow frank and open discussion about the assessment findings. Facilities are strongly encouraged to clarify issues they consider may have been misunderstood by the assessment team and to seek clarification about assessment findings where this is necessary.

The findings of the assessment team are subsequently confirmed in a formal report after they have been reviewed by senior NATA staff. Specific technical issues may be referred to the relevant NATA Accreditation Advisory Committee for resolution. Where necessary, the report will detail any non-conformities to be addressed by the facility. In these cases, the facility will provide NATA with the necessary information to demonstrate that these deficiencies have been rectified. In some cases, a further visit by a NATA lead assessor either alone or accompanied by one or more assessors will be necessary. Charges will be levied for such visits.

Granting Accreditation

NATA's Chief Executive grants accreditation following a recommendation by the relevant Accreditation Advisory Committee (AAC). This recommendation is made when the facility has met all the requirements for accreditation. The authorised representative is formally advised of the granting of the accreditation and issued with a certificate and the scope of accreditation.
Having achieved NATA accreditation, facilities are entitled to apply the NATA endorsement to their reports. This is widely recognised in Australia and overseas as a symbol of competence and reliability.
NATA publishes the facility's contact details and scope of accreditation in the NATA website directory. This information is also supplied to enquirers who are seeking accredited facilities.

Scope of Accreditation

The extent of a facility's accreditation, known as its 'scope of accreditation, is described in a tabular format by standard, activity, service, material/item/product and determination (as a minimum).

Variations to Scopes of Accreditation

Accredited facilities may request variations to their scope of accreditation. Significant additions to the scope of accreditation will require an assessment. NATA technical staff will provide direction on the information required, the process that will be followed and the charges that will be levied.

Continuing Accreditation

Following the granting of accreditation, assessments are conducted at regular intervals during the accreditation cycle in order to ensure continued compliance with accreditation requirements.. Assessment types and durations of accreditation cycles vary according to the accreditation scheme. Shorter intervals between assessments or a change to the assessment type may be specified, for example when significant changes to staffing or procedures occur, where significant non-conformities are identified at an assessment, or to investigate a complaint.

Proficiency Testing

Participation in proficiency testing activities (either inter-laboratory comparisons or measurement audits) is mandatory in most accreditation schemes.
You can get more information from the documents in the relevant NATA Accreditation Criteria (NAC).

NATA accreditation in overseas economies

NATA does not actively seek to offer accreditation in overseas economies but may consider doing so in some circumstances including:

  • Where there is no national accreditation body;
  • Where the national accreditation body is not a signatory to the ILAC MRA;
  • Where the national accreditation body does not offer accreditation for a specific conformity assessment activity.

Consideration may also be given to requests from Australian businesses operating outside Australia where NATA accreditation is preferred, and to businesses located outside Australia for which NATA accreditation will provide a benefit to Australia.

All requests to offer accreditation in overseas economies will be considered on a case by case basis and will be dependent on the availability of NATA resources and that the health and safety of NATA personnel can be assured.

NATA is obliged to comply with its international obligations as described in ILAC G21:2012 Cross Frontier Accreditation - Principles for Cooperation.

Confidentiality
All information provided by a facility in connection with an enquiry or an application for accreditation and all information obtained in connection with an assessment, is treated as confidential by NATA staff, technical assessors, and Committee and Board members. All such personnel are made aware of this requirement and have signed confidentiality agreements.

What Do I Do Next?
To discuss your interest in applying for accreditation or to clarify any of the above information, please contact any NATA office. The relevant information and forms will then be sent to you by NATA technical staff.
To download NATA's fee schedules click here.