While ISO certification provides independent validation of a company’s conformity to a set of standards created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the certification process can be long. Thus, many organizations prefer to focus on being ISO compliant rather than ISO certified.

ISO compliance means adhering to the requirements of ISO standards without the formalized certification and recertification process. For example, organizations may choose to follow guidelines for establishing a quality management system as outlined in ISO 9001. Unlike ISO 9001 certification which requires a series of audits, ISO compliance focuses on using the standards as a way to make decisions regarding policies, procedures, and processes so that they align with the specifications.

A company can obtain a certificate of compliance that provides customers and business partners with assurance but lacks the time-consuming and costliness of the certification audit. For example, organizations can meet the requirements of the ISO 9000 management standard and obtain the certificate of compliance. This certificate can be used to prove that the appropriate organizational structures exist to promote improvement.