The Route to Accreditation

This section provides a step-by-step guide through the key steps of the accreditation process. You will be able to access the documents and supporting information you need at each stage of your application, as well as access information about potential costs and timescales. It also includes information on how to maintain your accreditation status, extend your scope, and advice on how to get the most value from your accreditation.

Is accreditation applicable to me?

Do you provide certification, testing, inspection or calibration services?

CQC accredits testing laboratories, medical laboratories, calibration laboratories, diagnostic imaging services, physiological services, certification bodies, inspection bodies, proficiency testing scheme providers, reference material producers and notified bodies.

Where to start?

What would you like to be accredited for?
CQC assesses organisations against national and internationally recognised standards.
View the standards that CQC accredits to.
All organisations also need to be familiar with the appropriate standards , which can be purchased from the British Standards Institute.
CQC also operates a new product development programme. Further information can be found under the development of new areas of accreditation.

Meeting the relevant requirements

Familiarise yourself with the clauses in the relevant accreditation standard(s).
Look at what you already have in relation to what the standard requires you to have in place.
Carry out a gap analysis to identify areas that need addressing.
Identify the relevant supporting CQC publications which will be required to gain accreditation. As well as CQCS publications, applicant organisations should be aware of international publications relevant to their area of accreditation, available from the EA, IAF and ILAC websites.

How to apply

To apply for accreditation, please complete the application form relevant to your application.
The Form lists in detail the supporting information that you are required to submit with your application, including your Quality Manual and proof of legal status, in order for it to be processed without delay. The Application Fee, set out in the Terms of Business, must also be paid at this time.
Alternatively, you can request an application pack which can be submitted to when completed.
Organisations based outside the UK should contact in the first instance before submitting any documentation or fee.
We regret that incomplete applications will be subject to delay until all information is received.
Handling your application
Upon receipt of the application, you will be allocated an Accreditation Manager, who will assign an Assessment Manager as your case manager and point of contact with CQC.
The Assessment Manager will review the documentation and guide you through the process of gaining accreditation.
They will also discuss the composition of a proposed assessment team with you, that will be best placed to technically assess your organisation.
There is normally a lead-in time of approximately three months to arrange the first assessment visit.

Pre-assessment visit

Your Assessment Manager will guide you through the process and agree timescales for key milestones.
A pre-assessment is an informal visit to determine how ready you are for accreditation. A pre-assessment visit is optional, but it can be a valuable step in the process to reduce delays in gaining accreditation.
CQC recommends a pre-assessment visit by the CQC Assessment Manager (and possibly a technical assessor).
This visit addresses the scope of accreditation requested and will normally involve between 1 and 4 man-days work. It is designed to confirm your organisation's readiness for full assessment.
The Assessment Manager will provide you with a quotation for the work involved and a report on the findings of the pre-assessment following the visit.

The initial assessment visit

Once you have addressed any issues raised during the pre-assessment visit, the initial assessment is the first formal assessment.
This will be conducted by a Lead Assessor (normally your Assessment Manager) supported, as necessary, by technical assessors with the expertise to cover your scope of application. The length of the visit will depend upon the scope of application requested. The Assessment Manager will provide you with a quotation for the work involved.

The practicalities of the assessment

In advance of the visit, you will receive a visit confirmation followed by a visit plan, which provides a proposed timetable for the work to be assessed.

An opening meeting will take place to agree the arrangements. The assessment will involve a detailed review of company records. Interviews will take place with staff and managers, as well as witnessing of key activities. A full vertical and horizontal audit will take place. A de-brief of the visit and any findings will be discussed at a closing meeting. CQC will provide a full report during or immediately following the assessment visit. This will detail any findings or improvement actions identified against accreditation requirements. You will be asked to advise CQC on how you will address them.

The assessment team will make a recommendation at the closing meeting.

Post assessment

Should you have any findings, you will have approximately 12 weeks (this may vary but will be agreed with your Assessment Manager) to provide suitable evidence to your Assessment Manager that they have been addressed.

Once any mandatory findings have been satisfactorily cleared, the Assessment Manager will submit their recommendation to an independent Decision-maker within CQC. See CQC decision-making process.

Following ratification of the decision to grant accreditation you will be notified in writing. You will also receive a certificate of accreditation, and a schedule defining the scope will be made publicly available on the CQC website.

Maintaining your accreditation

Your accreditation will be confirmed on an annual basis by surveillance visits, with a full re-assessment every fourth year. The first surveillance visit takes place 6 months after the Grant of Accreditation.

At the initial assessment stage, you will be provided with an estimate of the work involved for the four-year cycle.

Extending your accreditation

Once accredited, you can apply to extend the scope of your accreditation at any point by completing the appropriate application form, and sending this to, along with any relevant supporting documentation.

This applies to both extending your existing scope, and gaining accreditation under another accreditation standard.

You are encouraged to discuss any proposed extension to scope with your Assessment Manager prior to application.

Extensions to scope can be completed as stand alone visits, as part of your next routine visit (surveillance or re-assessment), or as desktop reviews depending on the scope applied for, and desired assessment time-frame.