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Description of the certification process at A3CERT

Activities
1. Initial contact
2. Planning activity
3. Pre Audit
4. Before certification
5. Certifiering audits
6. Certificate decisions
7. Development audits
8. Recertification

1. Initial contact
When the documenation is ready, or close to ready, it is a good time to contact us to book certification activities and to get a quote for the certification audit.
Data which is necessary to determine the scope of the certification is gathered during this phase.

2. Planning activity
Planning activities are normally done via mail and telephone contact. 
If you want a planning meeting on site at your company premises, we will of course visit you to make a plan together. Planning meeting on site is normally not included in our contracts, so notify us if you want this.

3. Pre Audit
A pre audit is voluntary activity. It may be recommended to make a pre audit if you are unsure whether the process descriptions are sufficent, or whether you are unsure about the level of implementation.The result is reported after completed Pre audit and should result in an action plan to close remaining gaps ahead of the certification audit.
Pre audit is normally not included in our contracts, so notify us if you are interested in this.

4. Before certification 
Our audit leader will contact you before the audit to ensuring the prerequisites for the audit. The auditor will review the documentats whether these fulfil the certification requirements and if the competence of the audit team is in line with the type of busines being audited. If there are any question marks the auditor will contact ou to resolve any inconsistencies.

5. Certification audits
Certification audits is normally done in two stages. This will normally result in more effective implemention procedures after having received the certificate. Some time is needed between the audit steps, 4-6 weeks is normally recommended.
The proposed audit hours for Stage 2 audit may need to be increased if the calendar time exceeds 6 months between Stage 1 and Stage 2 audits. Another reason to extend the audit time may be if the Management System is immature or if the implementation is found to be weak at the Stage 2 audit.
During the certification audits, the Management System is assessed  whether it is sufficently comprehensive and the sufficently implemented. When the audit leader has concluded that the system is comprehensive and used at all levels, the audit leader will conclude the audit report and notify A3CERT office that the company fulfils the certification requirements.

6. Certification decision 
The decision to issue a certificate is made by appointed person at A3CERT, who did not participate in the audit. Management System certificates are normally valid for a time period of 3 years (36 months) from the certification audit, under condition that the development audits shows that the management system continue to be comprehensive and sufficently used at all levels. For some types of certifications the certificate period may be as long as 60 months. If the certification is integrated (several standards), the shortest certificate period is normally used.

7. Follow-up audits/reviews
The audit hours for follow-up audits is calculated on an annual basis. The scope of follow-up audits is adapted several factors, the type of business, the size and the maturity of the management system.
Follow-up audits should be undertaken at least once every calendar year, and the first follow-up audit should be undertaken within 12 months from the Stage 2 audit.
Depending on the size and structure of the company, the follow-up audits may be adapted to make maximize the value for the business being certified. The coverage of the follow-up audits shall ensure that all elements of the system should have been audited during the certification cycle.

8. Recertification
Recertification of management systems normally follow a 36 month cycle from the initial certiifaction audit. For some process certifications the recertification is done after 60 months. The scheduling of the recertification is made so that there will be sufficent time to correct any nonconfomities in due time before the expiry date of the certificate.
The recertification is done in two steps
- An analyze of how the certified system has operated - the lead auditor reviews the reports from the follow-up audits.
- An extended follow-up (compared with the follow-up audits) - to assess that the different elements in the Management system is operating as expected.
When the lead auditor has concluded that the companty fulfils the requirements then the A3CERT office is notified. The decision to extend a certificate is made by appointed person at A3CERT, who did not participate in the audit.

Suspension or withdrawal of certificate
Conditions that may lead to suspension or certificate withdrawal:
1)      bankruptcy or business closure,
2)      the customer fails to make necessary corrective actions in due time,
3)      repeated lack of conformance with the standards,
4)      mis use of  A3CERT logo or certification mark,
5)      the customer fails to fulfil the economical obligations under the contract with
         A3CERT,
6)      The customer damages or exposes the A3CERT to disgrace,
7)      if the customer is subject to material misstatement or government intervention.
 
If the reason for the suspension is corrected so that the suspension can be lifted within 6 months, the certification can be reinstated. If the suspension cannot be revoked within 6 months, the certificate is withdrawn. Upon withdrawal of a certificate, a new certification audit is required to resume the certification. When certificates are suspended or withdrawn, the customer can no longer market the previous certification. A3CERT can also limit the scope of the certification to exclude certain parts, if these over time or in a serious way have broken in relation to the certification requirements.

Extension of the certificate scope
A certified customer can apply for an extension of the scope of the certification. A3CERT decide on a case-by-case basis which audit activities are required for the scope of the certification to be expanded.