It can be a frustrating wait. After you have successfully completed your stage 1 and stage 2 audit, naturally you are keen to get the certificate and promote your achievements. However this is not the end of the process and the final steps can take some time depending on several factors including the certification body you are using.
Here we look at what happens after your stage 2 audit.
What does “Recommended for ISO Certification” mean?
If you completed the stage 2 audit without any major non-conformities it is likely the auditor will be happy to make a recommendation for you to be certified.
This is different from actually being certified. At this point it is the auditor’s opinion that you meet the requirements of the standard, however there are some additional steps before the certificate is issued to you.
If you picked up any minor nonconformities the recommendation may be conditional on you submitting a satisfactory corrective action plan.
At this point you can claim to be certified, only that you have been recommended.
Technical Review and Admin
The auditor’s report will go to the certification body’s office and into their technical review department (or similar).
There the report will be checked to ensure that all the requirements have been met. Any queries about the report or the audit will be made to the auditor.
It’s highly unlikely that a report will fail the technical review but it can happen.
Assuming this process is passed, it moves to the administration process which includes updating the certification body’s databases, issuing certificates, certification marks and other documentation.
It’s only when you receive the certificate, whether it’s a digital or physical copy, that you can make certification claims.
Why is my ISO Certificate delayed?
There are several reasons your ISO certificate could be delayed and most of them are not your fault. Here are a few:
- Technical Query
This will usually be raised to the auditor and could include asking them to verify something in the report or confirm some details.
- Awaiting Corrective Action Plan
If you incurred any minor nonconformities, the certification body may be waiting for you to submit a corrective action plan which then additionally needs to be ratified by the auditor. Some certification bodies will only accept corrective action plans via their online portal. It can also cause delays if the auditor is busy on other audits before they can review you plan.
- Certification Body is Understaffed
There seems to be a skills shortage in the certification industry as a whole, through people retiring from the industry and a lack of enthusiasm for those in their early career to join the industry. For some certification bodies this extends through to the back office meaning there can be delays of weeks or months before a recommendation turns in to a certificate.
Some times of year are better than others when it comes to getting a report confirmed and an ISO certificate issued. For example, summer and Christmas holidays are traditional times when people are away from the business and therefore the admin process takes longer.
- An Outstanding Invoice
If your financial account with the certification body is not up to date they may withhold the certificate until all invoices are paid .
My Certificate is about to Expire! What can I do?
There is not much you can do to speed up the process once it has arrived at the back office.
However it is still worth talking to your account manager and/or auditor who may be able to respond to any queries quicker or at least provide information on where your application is in the process.
The main thing you can do as a customer is book your recertification audit well in advance of the expiry date.
How can you help me?
Certbodies.co.uk is an independent website offering help and advice to those seeking ISO certification.
We are in regular contact with many of the accredited bodies and so can advise on which ones will best suit your need.