A very common question, if you participate in the certification ecosystem, when you receive an ISO certificate, most likely from a supplier that you are trying to qualify or even from your own organization that has been certified, is how to know if the ISO certificate is valid? What are the elements to know if the ISO certificate is valid?
Start with the certified company’s data
The first aspect you need to identify to know if an ISO certificate is valid is the company’s data, so check if it’s correct. If you are receiving the certificate from a supplier, for example, evaluate if the company name is appropriate as it is in your contract with that supplier, for instance.
It is also necessary to analyze which addresses are part of the scope of certification.
Critically analyze the scope of certification
It is not uncommon for organizations to seek to limit the scope of certification to a particular activity, often for some type of operation they perform.
Therefore, when you receive the management system certificate of an organization, it is essential to evaluate if the scope that was certified is within the scope of supply that this organization intends to provide to your company. The ISO certificate is valid, but it does not respect the task that you intend to hire, therefore, it is dispensable.
If this certificate is from your own organization, observe if the scope identified there is in accordance with the audit conducted.
Check the expiration dates
Within the ISO certificate, there are expiration dates. Every certification has a cycle of three years. So when you receive a certificate, it will generally be valid for three years, and these dates will help you know if the ISO certificate is valid.
Some certifying bodies use a one-year deadline and issue a new certificate every year. Here at QMS, we use the three-year cycle.
So every ISO certificate has an expiration date that you should also monitor and verify if it is appropriate and current.
Observe the seals present in the certificate
The certificate contains several seals and logos, each of which has a purpose. What are the main seals that you need to look for in the certificate?
Certification bodies undergo conformity assessment. There is a conformity assessment infrastructure that goes through several layers of validation.
So, when you receive your ISO certificate as a user of a management system, such as a company that has implemented a management system, this is the final layer.
Receiving the certificate is the final stage, so on the certificate, these seals and logos are the record of all the stages that your certification went through to be validated. Check which accreditation seal is present (there must be at least one), access its website to see if your certification body is accredited. Accrediting bodies are usually well-known in the market, but you can check which ones are valid through the IAF – International Accreditation Forum website.
In summary, there are several clues for you to identify the authenticity of a certificate, and if after following all these steps, you still have doubts, there must be a contact information in the certificate footer for you to validate directly with the certification body, but don’t forget, first check if the certification body is accredited, as we mentioned above.