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Calibration: Traceable or NATA? Do you know the difference?
Q & A | Technical
Calibration for measurement equipment is carried out to either traceable, or NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) certification.

But do you know the difference?

Essentially, this comes down to the standard of calibration for your equipment.

NATA calibration ensures accuracy and consistency to a much higher standard than traceable calibration.

Traceable Calibration

In a traceable calibration, the reference standard (or traceable device) used must have been calibrated using a higher-level standard than the one being performed.

The traceability should be part of an unbroken chain of calibrations. This leads back to the highest-level calibration which has been performed in a national calibration center, the National Measurement Institute (or equivalent).

 NATA Calibration

A NATA calibration is also traceable. However, this type of calibration takes additional steps to ensure the degree of accuracy in the calibration of your instruments.

NATA calibrations are carried out under the remit of an ISO/IEC 17025 quality system, by a laboratory that has been accredited by NATA. This ensures the consistency and accuracy of results.

To become NATA accredited, laboratories have to meet a very stringent set of requirements. NATA stipulates criteria around factors. They include employee training, calibration procedures and lab facilities, as well as regularly externally auditing the laboratory to ensure these standards are being upheld.

As well as the assurance of higher quality calibration, there are more benefits to choosing NATA calibration for your measurement equipment:

  • Industry specific: NATA calibrations are performed under the most stringent conditions. Therefore, industries where safety is critical such as food, healthcare, oil and gas, and pharmaceuticals may lean towards NATA calibrations for the added level of trust they provide.
  • Operational use: Within certain operational environments, an inaccurate reading from measurement equipment could pose a massive risk to safety.
  • Quality manual: It is not uncommon for quality assessors to instruct businesses to calibrate instruments by a NATA accredited laboratory to ISO 17025 standards. This could be a result of a stipulation from the governing or regulatory body of an industry.
  • Customer request: Some customers may request their suppliers have measurement equipment calibrated by a NATA accredited laboratory. This ensures a consistent result all the way along the supply chain.  It also provides an added level of assurance that all the equipment used in production was accurate.


To make this easier to comprehend, we can look at the differences in types of calibration by comparing buying and driving a car.

In traceable calibration, a person can buy a car that passes all safety standards and has very high ANCAP rating. But, they have had no driving lessons, and don’t hold a drivers license.

The NMI or a NATA laboratory can calibrate new measuring equipment for other laboratories. This does not mean that the company have a system or training program in place to ensure employees know how to use that equipment, to calibrate other devices correctly for customers.

In NATA calibration, a person can buy a car that passes all safety standards and has very high ANCAP rating. They also know how to drive, have a license and years of experience.

Only a trained technician can perform NATA calibration. They work in a laboratory that has quality system in place for training, calibration, and proficiency testing.  NATA accredits this type of calibration to ISO 17025 standards.

Would you get into a new car without a licensed driver? No!

So, at ECEFast we always recommend that your measurement instruments are NATA calibrated.


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