Ask an Expert
Tel: +1-281-673-2843
Find an Office
Email Us

Certification Process


The Global Manager of Certification or personnel granted Certification Decision Maker status is responsible for the effective implementation of the audit package review process, including accurate processing and reporting of certifications. This includes granting, refusing, maintaining, renewing, suspending, restoring or withdrawing certification or expanding or reducing the scope of certification. The Global Manager of Certification or designee is responsible for making formal certification decisions on audit packages. Refer to our graphic for a full description of the ABS Quality Evaluation (ABS QE) Audit Process.

ABS QE Certification and Audit Process

Certification Decision

The Certification Decision Maker reviews the audit package for technical content, procedural conformance and the level of confidence placed on the audit team's recommendation based on information contained in the audit package.

Technical approval is based on:

  • Scope of audit in relation to the organization's activities
  • Conformance of audit with defined practices
  • Evidence presented in audit package
  • Recommendation of audit team

The reviewer should review performance history of the client and determine if the audit frequency should be increased based on poor performance history.

Decisions for renewal audits are based on the results of the recertification audit, as well as the results of the review of the system over the period of certification and complaints received from users of certification.

Positive decisions (i.e. "Approved") cannot be made on certification audits with open major or minor nonconformities.

When a certification decision is "Approved," an ABS QE certification is generated. The certificate period and date rules are as follows:

  • The effective date of the certificate is the date the certification decision is made
  • Duration of the certification cycle for Management Systems Certification programs is three (3) years. When a certificate is first issued, its expiration date is determined by adding the number of years of the certification cycle minus one (1) day to the effective date.

Reduction of Scope

ABS QE may reduce the client's scope of certification to exclude the parts not meeting requirements, when the client has persistently or seriously failed to meet the certification requirements for those parts of the scope of certification. Reductions will be in line with the requirements of the standard used for certification.

Suspension of Certification

Certification is suspended any time the condition of the client's management system cannot be verified or is verified as not being effectively maintained. Certification is suspended in cases when a client fails to meet its contractual obligations to ABS QE, including failure to pay invoices in a timely manner. The suspension period should not exceed six (6) months.

  1. Client's certified management system has persistently or seriously failed to meet certification requirements, including requirements for the effectiveness of the management system such as:
    1. Repetitive major nonconformities
    2. Major nonconformities on successive audits
  2. Certified client does not allow surveillance or recertification audits to be conducted at the required frequencies
  3. Certified client has voluntarily requested a suspension

Withdrawal of Certification

Certification is withdrawn when a client's management system demonstrates significant nonconformance(s) with audit standard or planned arrangements and a failure to react to and correct the nonconformance(s).

Failure of the client to pay ABS QE invoices for services provided (per contract) or a failure of the client to provide ABS QE auditors access to the certified facility for audit purposes may also result in withdrawal of the certification.

  1. In most cases, withdrawal is preceded by suspension of the certificate, but in cases of severe nonconformance or failure of the client to cooperate, withdrawal may occur immediately.
  2. Withdrawal proceedings are initiated when the Global Manager of Certification is notified of one of the conditions specified above. A formal withdrawal notification is sent to the client. A copy of the communication is maintained in the client file. The notification details the client must immediately cease any claims of certification, including any use of the certification mark(s).
  3. If the client disagrees with the decision, appeals are handled according to the appeals process.

Refusal to Offer Certification

ABS reserves the right to refuse certification in geographies it does not operate in and technical areas it cannot support.  All refusals to offer certification will be documented in writing to the party requesting certification and will identify the basis on which the certification offer is being refused.

Restoration of Certification

Certification can be restored in accordance with ISO 17021-1 requirements for organization’s which have not fully completed certification renewal audit activities and clients correcting conditions which resulted in certification suspension.  Certifications may only be restored within six months of certificate expiration or suspension as long as the renewal audit began before prior to certificate expiration. 

Expansion of Certification Scopes

Scopes of certification for existing certifications can be expanded to include additional sites (geographical extensions), processes (technical extensions) or both.  Scope expansions must meet conditions defined in accreditation rules, most notably IAF Mandatory Document 1.  Certification decision on scope expansions conducted as noted above.


Additional information available in our Certification Rules and Conditions guidelines.

Back to top