The outbreak of the corona virus has a significant impact on the planning and timely execution of certification audits worldwide. As this is an exceptional situation, exemptions have been adopted by the accreditation bodies and the scheme owners. Above all, these serve to avoid negative effects on the certification status of certified as far as possible.
This page was updated on April 2, 2020. Changes made relate to the following scheme: IFS Standards. The information is very much subject to change as the situation unfolds. Please check back regularly.
Even during this extreme situation, the requirements of the accreditation bodies and the scheme owners must be complied with. We recommend all certified sites to familiarize themselves with the provisions made and, in doubt, to contact their account manager.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES IF AN AUDIT CANNOT BE CARRIED OUT ON TIME? CAN THE REGULAR AUDIT BE REPLACED BY A REMOTE AUDIT?
Different exceptions apply to the different schemes and standards. As the situation is still developing, further exceptions may be introduced in the coming days and weeks.
- BRCGS Standards: If audits cannot take place and a certificate is about to expire, BRCGS provides the option of extending the certificate up to a period of 6 months. This extension will be based on a risk assessment by the site’s current certification body and will be verified through the exchange of relevant documents and an interview process. Once the site becomes accessible, the full onsite audit will take place as normal. You can find more detailed information here.
- IFS Standards: If audits cannot be conducted within the specified timeframe the certificate will expire. An extension of the certificate without an audit is not possible. The IFS database will show that the certificate could not be extended due to the corona pandemic.
Optional solutions: IFS offers the IFS Remote Surveillance Check to see how companies control current risks within their supporting management processes. The IFS Remote Surveillance Check is optional and can be used to provide trust into the supply chain and to support risk management processes of business partners. It is a stand-alone solution that is especially developed for this crisis situation. It is voluntary, not accredited and its result cannot be taken into account for present and/or future IFS Certification audits and IFS Global markets assessments. More detailed information can be found here. IFS will soon publish the IFS GMP on-site check. We also keep you up to date on this development.
- FSSC 22000:
- If a recertification audit cannot be carried out on time, FSSC 22000 provides the option of extending the certificate up to a period of 6 months. This extension will be based on a documented risk assessment by the site’s current certification body. The full V5 recertification audit needs to take place within the 6 months validity extension window, with sufficient time to ensure that the extended certificate does not expire, and continuous certification is maintained.
- If a surveillance audit cannot be carried out on time, the certification body will conduct a risk assessment, an interview and exchange relevant documents with the site. This could lead to a certification decision to maintain the certificate, suspend the certificate or postponement of the surveillance audit by a maximum of 6 months within the calendar year.
- EFISC – GTP: Both surveillance and recertification audits can be postponed for a maximum period of six months.
Surveillance audits that could not be carried out on time due to the corona pandemic must be rescheduled until July 31, 2020 at the latest. In the event that it is not possible to conduct the surveillance audit by July 31st, the certificate must be suspended for a period of three months. If no audit is carried out within these three months, the certificate must be withdrawn.
Recertification audits: Until September 30, 2020, recertification audits can be conducted remotely. Expiring certificates cannot be extended without an audit. If a site applies for certification after its certificate has expired, it must start with an initial audit, but the stage 1 audit can be skipped.
- QS: The regulation is described in an information letter.
- ISO 9001 – ISO 14001 – ISO 22000 – ISO 22301 – ISO 22716 – ISO 37001 – ISO 45001 – ISO 50001 …: Taking into account the applicable accreditation requirements, DQS CFS GmbH has decided to accept alternatives such as remote audits, under clearly defined circumstances. In accordance with the accreditation requirements, DQS CFS GmbH is obliged to carry out a risk assessment based on the information provided by the certified organization. A remote audit will only be possible after a positive risk assessment.
- EFfCI GMP: Both surveillance and recertification audits can be postponed for a maximum of six months, without any consequences for the certification status.
- EN 16636 – CEPA Certified: Until informed otherwise, all audits can be conducted remotely.
- VLOG: audits can be postponed in consultation with DQS CFS GmbH.
I NEED TO CANCEL AN ALREADY PLANNED AUDIT. HOW DO I PROCEED?
In general, it should be noted that cancellations are only possible if an audit would pose an unreasonable risk or is simply not possible due to travel restrictions stemming from the current situation with the corona pandemic.
If you feel compelled to cancel a planned audit, please inform us immediately.
You can cancel the audit by writing an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and informing us of the audit dates that need be canceled. Please also inform us about the time window during which audits are not possible. This procedure applies to both announced and unannounced audits.
If you have not informed us about an audit cancellation and the auditor has already begun travelling to your site, the entire costs of the auditmust be reimbursed.
Please note that the exceptions apply until further notice only for cancellations of the audit dates in March and April 2020.