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Choosing a Certification Body

Using Audit Bodies / Monday 6th of August 2018

What is Certification? 
Certification is the process by which you are independently assessed against the requirements of your chosen Standard. You will be certified by a Certification Body (CB), who will send an auditor to carry out the audits. You will need to demonstrate your systems to them through a process of audits. On completion of these audits, the auditor will make a recommendation to the CB. 

A technical committee at the CB will review the report and if the recommendation is accepted, you will be issued with a Certificate as written confirmation of your achievement. This will be valid for three years, depending you maintain the ongoing surveillance audits. At the end of the three-year period, the CB will carry out another full audit of the system to repeat the process. 

If the recommendation is refused, you may need to provide some further evidence to the CB to further assure the Committee. 

Who gives the CB’s authority to issue Certificates? 
CBs are usually independent businesses, who specialise in processes to audit and approve Standards. They are audited themselves. In the UK, they are generally audited by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) against standards that ensure competency in their chosen sectors, and an ability to maintain impartiality and independence. 

There are some CBs that operate without UKAS approval and as such, they can still issue certificates but be careful, as some sectors do not recognise these certificates. This may be in part due to some unaccredited CBs providing consultation as well as certification, so in essence, marking their own homework. 

How do choose? 
The choice of CB will depend on many factors, including brand, responsiveness and price. Certification bodies charge on a day rate basis, and although they work from a common standard to determine the duration of your audit, you will find differences between them. Some may charge an annual administration fee on top of the audit price, and some may charge separately for travel expenses. 

The duration they quote will be based on the number of sites, staff, and the type and complexity of your operations. They will ask all these questions in an application form. We also recommend getting three quotes so you can compare. If you are still undecided, get them to come and see you or have a call to talk through the process. 

Find a Certification Body. 
You could visit the UKAS website and link to your chosen standard. Accredited organisations are listed.
If we are helping you with implementation of a Standard System, then we can source quotes from reputable Certification Bodies. We are associate consultants to BSI, NQA and LRQA.

If I don’t like the CB, can I change? 
You can transfer, but only if you have no outstanding non-conformances from an audit. It’s highly unusual to transfer once the certification process is underway. A big difference with UKAS accredited CBs is that you have the ability to complain to UKAS if you are getting nowhere with the Certification Body. 

Would you recommend anyone? 
Independently, we recommend you get quotes from 4 CBs: 

  • Approachable Certification
  • BSI
  • LRQA
  • NQA

For more details, go to the UKAS website for details of their separate capabilities and standards they cover.