The European MACC (Monitoring Atmospheric Composition and Climate) project is preparing the operational Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), one of the services of the European Copernicus Programme on Earth observation and environmental services. MACC uses data assimilation to combine in situ and remote sensing observations with global and regional models of atmospheric reactive gases, aerosols, and greenhouse gases, and is based on the Integrated Forecasting System of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). The global component of the MACC service has a dedicated validation activity to document the quality of the atmospheric composition products. In this paper we discuss the approach to validation that has been developed over the past 3 years. Topics discussed are the validation requirements, the operational aspects, the measurement data sets used, the structure of the validation reports, the models and assimilation systems validated, the procedure to introduce new upgrades, and the scoring methods. One specific target of the MACC system concerns forecasting special events with high-pollution concentrations. Such events receive extra attention in the validation process. Finally, a summary is provided of the results from the validation of the latest set of daily global analysis and forecast products from the MACC system reported in November 2014.