Difference between Conformance and Compliance

A short post to clarify the difference between conformance and compliance – words which are often interchanged, but should they be? Here’s just a few lines to explain the difference between them and also why they tend to become confused.

Conformance

Choosing to do something in a recognised way (following standards such as ISO 9001 or recognised methods such as agreed test methods for ring tests under ISO 17025).

vs

Compliance

Doing what you are told (i.e. abiding by the law, meeting legislative requirements).

Justification for the confusion

If someone mandates you meet the requirements of a standard or test method then conformance becomes compliance (i.e. your conformity is required in order for you to comply).

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