How does UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification differ to other types of referral and certification?

Certification has dramatically different levels of substance behind them and you should be aware of these to ensure you remain attentive to your fire safety obligations when employing external contractors to help fulfil your duties.

First party referral or ‘self-certification’
First party referral or ‘self-certification’ is when the provider or contractor tells their potential customer that they are competent for the work, with no evidence of this.
Second party referral
Second party referral involves someone else, such as a customer referral or trade association membership (that has no competency entry requirements but can imply they are competent).

Then you get into the levels of Certification. For this, people should be looking for UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification. Whilst this is commonly referred to as Third Party Certification it is important to know the difference between UKAS Accredited and non-UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification.

Non-UKAS Accredited Certification
Non-UKAS Accredited Certification involves an independent body who either issue certification themselves or via a body not accredited by UKAS but through their own competency criteria. If someone were to use a company certificated in this way, they should be highly thorough and check the competency requirements required to achieve this.
UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification
UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification, commonly referred to as Third Party Certification, takes this to another level. This is when an independent UKAS Accredited Certification Body will send assessors out to inspect companies and check they are working competently under a quality management system to the appropriate standards and best working practice for a specific service (e.g. Fire Risk Assessment). This assessment process provides quality independent evidence that the provider can do what they say.

Third Party Certification is always for a specific service, this in most instances will never cover all services a provider may offer. Providers may have achieved UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification for multiple services, but each service offered will have had to undergo independent assessment to provide evidence of their competency for that specific area.

Further Reading:

UKAS - Accreditation Vs Certification