The Certification Process

Certification is not just an event. It’s a process of audits and monitoring that verify compliance. Bureau Veritas’ aim is to make that process as simple and transparent as possible. 

The certification process typically comprises seven distinct steps, each validated by a deliverable from Bureau Veritas. It is generally a three-year program consisting of initial certification followed by surveillance audits at the one- and two-year marks, then recertification after three years. The process and its timeline are largely determined by the relevant accreditation body.

0. Certification program set-up
Bureau Veritas partners with you to devise the right certification program based on your organization’s particular needs and priorities. This means determining which management systems to audit, and for how many sites. 

1. Pre-audit
The pre-audit is an optional audit that evaluates your management system against specific requirements of the standard to which you are seeking certification. Bureau Veritas provides a report detailing its findings along with appropriate corrective actions, allowing you to evaluate your readiness.

2. Stage I audit
Bureau Veritas evaluates your readiness for a stage II audit through an initial assessment of various criteria such as your understanding of the standard’s requirements, the scope of your management system and your internal audit systems.

3. Stage II audit
Your auditor reviews your management system and provides a detailed report of findings, including nonconformities, observations and opportunities for improvement where relevant. You will have a limited amount of time to implement corrective actions in the case of any non-conformities.

4. Initial certification decision
After completion of all necessary audits, Bureau Veritas conducts an impartial review of findings and decides whether or not to grant certification.  

5. Surveillance
Surveillance audits shall be conducted at least once a calendar year, except in recertification years. The date of the first surveillance audit following initial certification shall not be more than 12 months from the certification decision date.

6. Recertification
Full certification reassessment takes place automatically every three years to ensure ongoing conformity. This must be completed before expiry of the existing Certificate of Approval. Careful scheduling of the recertification audit is crucial to avoiding lapses in certification. 

7. Special audit
Some standards (e.g. IATF 16949) require an on-site “special audit” to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of corrective actions for major non-conformities.

8. Suspension, withdrawal cancellation or restoration of the Certificate of Approval
Bureau Veritas might suspend, withdraw, reduce, extend or cancel the Certificate of Approval at any time and shall give the client written notice. If such actions are deemed necessary by Bureau Veritas, the client will be fully briefed and will be given every possible opportunity to take corrective action before a final decision is taken on what action Bureau Veritas should take after the expiration of such notification period. Unannounced visits may also be conducted as a follow up on clients which certification has been suspended. Suspension is lifted and certification is restored upon satisfactory clearance of non-conformities and verification by Bureau Veritas of the compliance of client’s management system.

WHAT IS AN AUDIT CYCLE?

The audit cycle is the heart of the certification process. It comprises four types of audits that assess, monitor and revalidate your compliance. Once your certificate is issued, a full certification cycle typically lasts three years. There is some flexibility, however, when scheduling audits; the audit cycle does not necessarily coincide exactly with the certification cycle. Your aim is to avoid disruptions in certification continuity or premature completion of the audit cycle. As your dedicated certification partner, Bureau Veritas can help you establish the timeline that best suits your organization.