VSL provides measurement accuracy and traceability to national and international measurement standards and manages and develops the Dutch standards. Undisputed quality and knowledge development are essential requirements. As an ongoing aspect of our operations, we work on the continuous quality of processes and maintaining our accreditations.


Participation in international interlaboratory comparisons

VSL participates in international interlaboratory comparisons organised among national metrology institutes. These interlaboratory comparisons are always carried out nationally, regionally (i.e. at European level) and globally. Using a common measurement protocol as well as stable and similar measurement results, we can compare the artefacts (primary standards) with each other. At the same time, we exchange knowledge about the measurement methods used and the measurement results found. This provides evidence for current measurement capabilities and future reductions in measurement uncertainty.

The results of the interlaboratory comparisons provide the measurement capabilities known as Calibration & Measurement Capabilities (CMCs). This information is publicly available and can be found on the (BIPM’s website ).

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Mutual Recognition Arrangement (CIPM MRA).

VSL was one of the first participating institutes to sign the BIPM’s Mutual Recognition Arrangement (CIPM MRA) in 1999.

This arrangement governs the mutual recognition of measurement standards of national metrology institutes (NMIs) worldwide. The certificates they issue are globally accepted on the basis of this recognition, on condition that NMIs ensure their measurement capabilities through key comparisons and maintain a quality system in accordance with international laboratory standards.

EURAMET is an association of national metrology organisations from European Union member states and the European Free Trade Association. VSL is a member of EURAMET, through which it maintains its participation in the CIPM MRA. In accordance with the requirements of the MRA, VSL participates in EURAMET’s technical committees and its Quality Committee. VSL reports to this committee on functioning of the quality system and technical performance. VSL has chosen to demonstrate the competence of its activities by becoming an accredited body for calibration (K999: ISO/IEC 17025), the production of reference materials (P002: ISO 17034) and the organisation of interlaboratory comparisons (R006: ISO/IEC 17043). Every year, subject-matter experts from other NMIs participate in the assessment examinations of the Dutch Accreditation Council RvA.

Participation in committees

VSL participates in national and international technical committees of EURAMET and the CIPM to keep up to date with developments in metrology. We also participate in ISO committees on fuels and air quality as well as in specific areas such as measurement uncertainty and the quality of metrology. At the national level, VSL actively participates in the board and committees of Fenelab, the national platform of accredited laboratories.

VSL sits on several other committees, including:

  • ISO/TC 158 – gas analysis
  • ISO/TC 193 – natural gas
  • ISO/REMCO – reference materials
  • CEN/TC 264 – air quality
  • JCGM WG1 GUM working group (GUM = Guide to the expression of Uncertainty in Measurement, JGCM = Joint Committee on Guides in Metrology)
  • Dutch Committee on Radiation Dosimetry
  • ISO TC299 Nanometrology, metrology working party
  • IOP Nanotechnology – Standards Committee
  • CIE Division 2, Physical measurement of light and radiation (CIE = International commission on Illumination)
  • EURAMET technical committees
  • BIPM working Groups


VSL performs calibrations and produces reference materials based on the managed measurement standards. The resulting certificates are internationally recognised under the CIPM Mutual Recognition Arrangement (CIPM MRA). This is an agreement on the mutual recognition of national measurement standards and the validity of calibration and measurement certificates issued by national metrology institutes.

The BIPM’s ‘key comparison database’ contains a complete listing of all CMCs and all VSL reference materials recognised under the MRA.

Digital certificates

VSL issues digital certificates with an electronic signature to ensure authenticity. This is in accordance with the EU Electronic Signature Directive (1999/93/EC). The signature is an electronic seal on the document that prohibits making alterations. Any alteration breaks this seal and is shown in the document. This enables anyone to verify authenticity and makes it possible to distribute the certificate without difficulty.

In Acrobat Reader (available for free download here) the document header displays the document’s validity. More details about the electronic signature are given in the signature window. Click on the electronic seal to open the signature window.

Certification committee
The VSL Certification Committee issues the certificates, ensures that the documents comply with the requirements of international standards for calibration (ISO/IEC 17025:2017), production of reference materials (ISO 17034:2016 / ISO Guide 31:2015 and ISO 6141:2015) and agreements with the International Committee on Weights and Measures (CIPM).

Reduction in paper use
Digital certificates, reports and validations of authenticity are another step in VSL’s ambition to work and communicate without using paper.