Q32: According to ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015, § 9.1.3.3, “Surveillance audits shall be conducted at least once a calendar year, except in recertification years. The date of the first surveillance audit following initial certification shall not be more than 12 months from the certification decision date”. Is this clause still valid?

A32: Yes. However, given the specific circumstances, all the time limits indicated in the standard have to be reconsidered according to the IAF FAQ Q10 that allows the postponements of any conformity assessment activities. This means that:

  • it is not necessary to conducted a surveillance audit at least once a calendar year;
  • the date of the first surveillance audit following initial certification shall not be more than 12 months from the certification decision date plus the postponement allowed by the IAF FAQ Q10.

In the case it is not possible to perform any surveillance activity within the timeframe of 12+6 months (see above second bullet point), the accredited CB shall inform the customer and suspend the accredited certificate.

In these specific circumstances, the suspension could exceed six months (see the note of ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015, § 9.6.5.4).

In order to lift the suspension and continue with the accredited certificate validity, at least a Stage 2 shall be conducted.

Q28: Based on the answer to IAF COVID-19 FAQ Q20 which has extended the transition arrangements of such standards as ISO 50001: 2018 and ISO 22000:2018 by 6 months, can it be confirmed that the dates related to all intermediate requirements contained in these transition arrangements, for example the dates to stop auditing against the previous version of the standard, are also extended by 6 months?

A28: Yes, the extension to the transition arrangements applies to all dates quoted within these arrangements so all dates are extended by 6 months.

Ref: FAQ20

Q27: In consideration of this extraordinary period, may all assessments (e.g. surveillances, reassessment) be postponed for up to 6 months, and the validity of all output of accreditation activity (e.g. a certificate) be extended for a corresponding period of up to 6 months?

A27: No. In cases that ABs are still able to perform evaluation activities physically or when these can be fully replaced with evaluation activities as per IAF ID 12,  normal scheduled conformity assessment activities (e.g. surveillances, reassessment) should be performed. 

Otherwise, if the conditions recommended by IAF ID 3: 2011 are satisfied, the normal scheduled conformity assessment activities may be postponed for up to 6 months, and the validity of all output of the conformity assessment activity (e.g. a certificate) may be extended for a corresponding period of up to 6 months.

This means that an accreditation certificate would be valid for a maximum for 5 years (see ISO/IEC 17011, § 7.9.1) plus 6 months.

If there is a postponement of 6 months in the deadline of a certificate, according to Q8, the next accreditation cycle starts from the original one and not from the new accreditation decision.

A13: No. In cases where CABs are still able to perform evaluation activities physically or when these can be fully replaced with evaluation activities as per IAF MD 4, then normal scheduled conformity assessment activities (e.g. surveillances, recertification) should be performed. Otherwise, if the conditions recommended by IAF ID 3: 2011 are satisfied, the normal scheduled conformity assessment activities may be postponed for up to 6 months, and the validity of any output of the conformity assessment activity (e.g. a certificate or report) may be extended for a corresponding period of up to 6 months.

Q10: For schemes under IAF MLA (Management system certification, Product certification, Certification of persons, Validation and Verification), how are conformity assessment activities to be managed in this extraordinary period?

A10: In consideration of this extraordinary period, for schemes of management system certification, product certification and certification of persons under IAF MLA, if it is not possible to perform evaluation activities (physically or as per IAF MD4: 2018), such as  audits or exams, and if the conditions recommended by IAF ID3: 2011 are satisfied, all the conformity assessment activities (e.g. surveillances, recertification) may be postponed for up to 6 months, and the validity of any output of any conformity assessment activity (e.g. a certificate or report) may be extended for a corresponding period of up to 6 months. In this last instance, in order to document this to the client, if applicable, it is strongly suggested to issue an extension letter, which ratifies this extended validity and its period. This is essential to guarantee transparency and a correct communication to the external market. Appropriate records should also be updated. However, this could change for specific schemes. For validation and verification, particularly the greenhouse gas (GHG) validation and verification at project or organizational level, they are normally one-off conformity activities, therefore the IAF ID3 guidelines related to surveillance, recertification, extension of certification and recertification cycle etc. may not be applicable. However, for the assessment and accreditation of validation and verification bodies (VVBs), IAF ID3 can be used (see A11), and the remote approaches as per IAF MD4:2018 can be used by both ABs and VVBs (see A12).

Updated on 23/03/2020 to include all IAF MLA main scopes.