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.
In addition to the normal certification audits, we have developed certification protocols for Corona due diligence and hygiene (what is sometimes referred to as COVID-Free certification). There is a general corona due diligence audit as well as sector-specific solutions (hotels, restaurants, airlines, retail, …). Contact us to discuss!
This page was updated on December 11, 2020. Changes made relate to the following scheme: QS. 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.
BRCGS Blended Audit: Announced re-certification audits can be carried out partly remotely. The so called Blended Audit is an audit which comprises an offsite – remote assessment followed by an onsite audit. The remote audit duration shall not exceed 50% of the total audit duration in any case. Further information can be found here
BRCGS Remote: If on-site audits are not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions, some BRCGS audits can be performed completely remotely. Under certain conditions BRCGS Food including START !, Packaging, Storage and Distribution, Consumer Products and Gluten Free Certification Program can be carried out 100% remotely. The BRCGS Remote Certification is possible until at least April 2021. Audits to the Agents and Brokers Standard can also be carried out completely remotely, regardless of the COVID-19 regulations. You can find further information regarding the BRCGS Blended Audit and Remote Audit 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.
IFS Remote: IFS is currently exploring the possibility of split audits, in which the audit is split into an on-site part followed by a remote part. You can read all about it here. The exception is the IFS Broker standard, for which a fully remote option exists.
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.
We recommend reading our blogposts IFS Audits during the Corona Crisis and Everything you need to know about IFS Remote Surveillance & GMP on-site Checks.
- 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.
- FSSC Remote: As of June 2020, it is possible to conduct a part of the FSSC 22000 audit remotely. We have summarized the main conditions and rules for remote audits of FSSC 22000 certified sites here. Since October 2020 FSSC 22000 audits can also be carried out fully remotely under certain conditions. This option can only be utilized where access to the premises of the certified organization is not possible as a direct result of a serious event (such as a pandemic). You can find out everything you need to know about the FSSC 22000 remote audit options here.
- EFISC – GTP: Both surveillance and recertification audits can be postponed for a maximum period of six months. Under certain circumstances, a remote audit may be possible.
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. In risk regions and restricted areas where on-site audits are not possible, QS enables remote audits to be carried out under defined conditions. This option is initially limited until April 30, 2021. You can find all the information you need to carry out QS remote audits here.
- ISO 9001 – ISO 14001 – ISO 22000 – ISO 22301 – ISO 22716 – ISO 37001 – ISO 45001 …: 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.
- ISO 50001 – Energy audits: The Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) has informed us that energy audits can be postponed due to the current situation. Bear in mind that certified companies should document the reasons for a delayed implementation of an energy audit. Further information can be found on the BAFA homepage at https://www.bafa.de/DE/Energie/Energieefficiency/Energieaudit/energieaudit_node.html.
- Transition period for ISO standards: Changed transition periods affect ISO 45001: 2018 for safety and health at work (SGA) and ISO 50001: 2018 energy management. You can find detailed information here.
- 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.