The certification process

What is accredited certification?

What is accreditation?

Accreditation verifies the certification body/registrar’s competence. To fulfill the accreditation criteria, an accrediting authority assesses the certification body/registrar to verify that the certification body/registrar complies with existing requirements. This is the authorities’ way of auditing the auditors and certification bodies like DNV.

What is third party accredited certification? 

Accredited certification of management systems is used to demonstrate compliance to a standard in a trusted way. Using an accredited certification body/registrar means that you work with an auditing company that meets required quality standards set by the accrediting authority.

Risk Based Certification™ - methodology

Risk Based Certification is DNV’s exclusive approach to all management system certification audits. It helps you build on your management system to improve where it matters most while also assuring that it complies with the chosen standard’s requirements. You identify topics critical for you to reach your business goals. As part of the audit, DNV auditors will check how the management system supports these Focus Areas. Knowing where to focus improvement efforts is critical to take control of risks that can threaten your operations and business success. With Risk Based Certification, the outcome is still a certificate – if the management system is found compliant – but you target your management system and audits to do more.

How do I become certified by DNV? 

A successful management system is one that is improved on a continual basis. Both your management system and certificate have to be maintained. Therefore, accredited certification consists of a 3-step cycle:

  • Initial certification 
  • Annual audits to maintain the certificate
  • Re-certification every 3 years.

Initial certification

1. Identify Focus Areas

To get more out of every audit and improve where it matters most, our auditor needs to know which topics are critical to your business success. Use Boost My Audit, DNV’s online tool, to browse pre-defined Focus Areas. Get auditor guidance and help to formulate bespoke Focus Areas if better fitting your needs. Make sure that the Focus Areas reflect your strategy and business goals. Top management should be involved at this stage to ensure commitment. The final Focus Areas will be agreed with your auditor before the audit.

2. Initial audit - Stage 1

Our lead auditor evaluates your management system documentation and normally performs a visit to your organization. The documentation review can be performed prior to or conducted as part of the visit.

The purpose of the initial visit is twofold:

  • To check your readiness for the Initial audit –Stage 2 (certification audit), i.e. to review and check your processes and management system documentation, , to see your facilities, and briefly check the implementation of your management system.
  • To review focus area input and agree on one to three particular focus areas upon which the audit will focus.

Based on this, the scope and audit plan are agreed upon. The Stage 1 audit is typically executed some weeks ahead of the Stage 2 audit.

3.  Initial audit - Stage 2 (Certification audit)

The Stage 2-audit consists of informal interviews, examinations, observations of the system in operation and review of relevant documentation. During this process, we assess your management system’s degree of compliance with the requirements of the elected standard and performance in identified Focus Areas. When found compliant, we issue the certificate. Findings, including non-conformities, and conclusions are presented at the end of the audit in a closing meeting and included in the audit report. After the audit you need to address and respond to non-conformities within an agreed deadline. In the management summary of the audit report, you can also find the evaluation of how your management system performs in the selected Focus Areas.

4. Certification decision and issuance of certificate

Our lead auditor will verify that you have properly addressed the non-conformities. Based on a positive outcome, he/she will recommend certification. The certification decision is taken after an independent DNV internal review. Following a positive decision, you will receive the certificate shortly thereafter. The certificate is issued on a blockchain to ensure trusted traceability and sharing with any of your stakeholders.

Annual maintenance of certificate

At this stage you have completed the initial certification and can move on to maintenance of your certification.

The scope of certification may need to be changed during the 3 year certification cycle. In case of expanding the scope, the lead auditor and DNV will evaluate and decide which activities are required to expand the certificate scope. Activities typically depend on the extent and nature of requested changes.

Periodic audits

Each issued certificate has a three-year life period. Upon certification, we will create a periodic audit schedule for regular audits over the three-year period. These audits confirm your company’s on-going compliance with specified requirements of the standard while evaluating performance in focus areas. At least one periodic audit per year is required.

Re-certification audit

After the three years are up, your certification will be extended through a re-certification audit.

Suspension or withdrawal of certificates

What happens if an organisation fails to maintain their management system and certification?

DNV has a transparent procedure for suspension or withdrawal of certificates. This is applicable in situations where an organisation persistently and seriously fails to maintain compliance with the management system standard or due to other situations, as defined in the procedure for suspension and withdrawal of certificates.

Who makes the certification decision?

The scope of certification is agreed at an early stage in the certification process. The scope of certification may however need to be expanded or reduced due to factors such as acquisitions, downsizing, adding new divisions etc.

The decision to grant initial certification, renew certification or to expand or reduce the scope of certification, is made by competent and authorized personnel in DNV who are different from those carrying out the audit. This decision is made based on a review of the certification process and associated documentation.

Similar review also applies in cases of suspending or restoring certification or withdrawing the certification.

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