Our certification procedures are designed to fulfil accreditation and quality criteria for all schemes and services, and to ensure fair and consistent treatment of our customers.

In this page you will find a concise description of conditions for trademark use and for granting, extending, suspending and withdrawing of certification under each of the schemes that we work with. 
 
Visit the relevant service page to learn more about the conditions applying to a specific scheme or service.
 
 

Systems ownership & accreditation

Below is concise information about the schemes behind our certification services. Ownership and accreditation vary across these services.

For example, we own and develop two of the schemes that we work with, whilst the remaining schemes are owned by multi-stakeholder organisations.  
 

Scheme Owner Accreditation
FSC Forest Stewardship Council We hold accreditation for FSC Forest Management and FSC Chain of Custody certification worldwide, with the Republic of China as the only exception.
PEFC Programme for Endorsement of Certification Schemes We hold accreditation for PEFC Chain of Custody certification worldwide. We're also accredited for PEFC Forest Management certification in Denmark and Russia.
LegalSource NEPCon We deliver certification services under our own scheme.
SBP Sustainable Biomass Program We are accredited to provide SBP certification to biomass producers and supply chain worldwide excluding China. 
SAN Sustainable Agriculture Network We provide SAN/Rainforest Alliance chain of custody services under the accreditation held by RA-Cert.  
CFM NEPCon We deliver Carbon Footprint Management (CFM) certification services under our own scheme.  
RSPO Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil  We hold RSPO SCC accreditation in all countries apart from Canada, China and the US.  
 
 
 

Earning certification

For all schemes, a thorough assessment of the operation's compliance with the certification requirements forms the basis for granting certification. In most cases, this entails an on-site visit.
 

The certification process

The certification process typically follows the steps outlined below. To find a more detailed description of the certification process for each type of service, go to the relevant service pages

B1 Scope clarification and Certification agreement:  During our initial dialogue, we clarify which product lines, facilities and processes that need to be covered by your certification. This forms the basis for our service proposal and the Certification Agreement that you enter with us. Click here to see the Certification Agreement template. 
B2

Pre-assessment: This is optional in most cases, but mandatory for certain types of FSC forest operations. For some types of certification, pre-assessment is rarely used.

B3

Public stakeholder consultation: This step only applies to forest certification assessments and SBP certification of biomass producersPublic consultation must be announced to relevant stakeholders 6 weeks ahead of the on-site evaluation for FSC certification (Forest management or Chain of Custody/Controlled Wood), one month ahead of the on-site visit for the SBP certification of biomass producers and may be required 30 days ahead of the on-site visit for PEFC forest certification, depending on the national PEFC scheme.

B4

Client preparation:  You prepare for certification by ensuring compliance with all relevant certification requirements. Please note that we do not provide consultancy or help you prepare for your certification. 

B5 Assessment: Your conformance with all relevant requirements is assessed. In most cases, this is done as an on-site visit at to verify your conformance with the relevant standard (s). This normally includes a tour of your facilities, document reviews and staff interviews. Desk audits are acceptable in certain cases. 
Benefit 6 Report: We prepare an evaluation report outlining any non-conformities.  
Benefit 7 Certification: You receive a certificate based on a positive evaluation result.

 

Conditions for granting certification 

Each scheme has its own rules regarding the level of conformance required for certification. Below is a concise overview of the conditions applying to assessments and re-assessments. 

Requirement  

FSC
FM
FSC
CoC
FSC CW-FM PEFC
FM
PEFC
CoC
SAN/RA* LS CFM SBP RSPO SCC

Public stakeholder consultation prior to the on-site visit

X   X X         X****  

Pre-assessment mandatory under certain conditions

 X     (X)**            
On-site assessment X (X)*** X X X (X)*** (X)*** X X***  X

No open major non-conformities 

X X X X X X X X X (x)*****

No open minor non-conformities 

       (X)**          N/A

You have signed all agreements and paid all costs/fees.

X X X X X X X X X X

*RA = Rainforest Alliance 
** This may apply, depending on the rules of the individual national PEFC FM scheme.
***On-site assessment is often required, however desk-based evaluations may be acceptable in some cases.
****Only for biomass producers.
*****There is no official grading for non-conformities under RSPO. Any non-conformities raised during the assessments needs to be addressed within 3 months otherwise a new assessment is required. Therefore within this table which classifies minor and major non-conformities, non-conformities in RSPO are considered as major non-conformities.  

 
 

Maintaining certification

Your certificate is normally valid  for a period of 5 years; however, PEFC FM and SAN/Rainforest Alliance certificates have a validity period of 3 years. 

During the validity period, you need to undergo annual audits where we verify your continued compliance. The annual audits will focus on any weaknesses identified during previous evaluations and on your fulfilment of the certification requirements. 

NEPCon may conduct additional audits, for example if we have reason to suspect a major breach of the certification rules. We may also carry out random spot audits.

In between audits, you need to notify us about any important changes in your organisation. The certification scope - i.e. the products, processes and company facilities covered by your certificate -  can only be changed by formal agreement. 

 

Addressing non-conformities

In the certification report, any lack of compliance is listed as a non-conformity (NC). NCs are classified as minor or major. You must address each NC by the specified deadline.

  • Minor NCs: You will normally need to ensure compliance by the next annual audit. If you have not addressed the issue adequately, minor NCs are by default upgraded to major NCs in the FSC, PEFC, LegalSource, SBP and CFM certification systems. For SAN/Rainforest Alliance CoC certification, the auditor may decide to upgrade NCs which have not been properly addressed by the specified deadline.

  • Major NCs: The typical deadline for addressing a major NC is three months for FSC, PEFC, LegalSource, SBP and CFM certification and four months for SAN/Rainforest Alliance certification and one month for RSPO. In some cases, deadlines may be shorter. To verify your timely compliance we will conduct an additional audit, which implies extra cost. Non-compliance with major NCs by the specified timeline will lead to immediate suspension of the certificate (FSC and SBP certification) or directly to termination of your certification (SAN/Rainforest Alliance certification). 
     

Note: Many of our clients report that the process of addressing NCs ultimately helps them to improve their overall management performance and efficiency and to reach their own objectives.

 

Re-certification

After completing a full certificate validity period, you need to undergo re-assessment - a new full assessment - in order to stay certified.  

If the result of the re-assessment is positive, a new certificate issued including the same certificate registration code as in your previous certificate.

 

Certificate suspension

Your FSC, PEFC, LegalSource, SBP and CFM or RSPO certificate may be suspended for reasons listed in the table below. The SAN/Rainforest Alliance certification system does not operate with suspension. 

You are always notified in written about the suspension decision. After your certificate has been suspended, you may not make any claims regarding your conformance with the certification standard(s) and may not sell previously labelled products until certification trademarks are removed. 

A suspended certificate may be reinstated when you have addressed the issues that led to the suspension, and we have conducted an audit verifying your compliance.
 
Note: In the situations no. 2 and 3 under FSC and SBP certification schemes, we are obliged to suspend the certificate immediately, i.e. within 10 calendar days after the audit's closing meeting (situation 2) or 10 calendar days after the deadline of the non-addressed non-conformity (situation 3). Immediate suspension is also applicable to LegalSource and RSPO SCC in other situations: 
 
  • LegalSource certification will be suspended immediately if there is evidence of illegal timber being placed on the market.
  • Where objective evidence indicates that there has been a demonstrable breakdown in the supply chain caused by the certified client’s actions or inactions, and that oil palm products have been or are about to be shipped which are falsely identified as RSPO certified product, the RSPO Supply Chain Certification will be suspended immediately until such time that the situation has been addressed.

 

No.

Situations leading to suspension of the certificate

FSC
FM

FSC
CoC

FSC
CW-FM

PEFC
FM

PEFC
CoC

SAN/RA*

LS

CFM

SBP RSPO SCC
1

One to four major NCs** are found during an audit

          N/A        
2

Five or more major NCs are found during an annual audit

X

X

X

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

X  
3

Failure to address one or more major NCs by the specified timeline

X

X

X

N/A

 N/A

N/A

X

N/A X X
4

Serious breaches of the certification requirements

X

X

X

X

X

N/A

X

X

X X
5

Lack of payment of applicable fees and invoices 

X

X

X

X

X

N/A

X

X

X X
6

Lack of willingness to plan and undergo scheduled audits

X

X

X

X

X

N/A

X

X

X X

*RA = Rainforest Alliance

**NCs = non-conformities.

 

Certificate withdrawal

Your certificate may be withdrawn for the reasons indicated in the table below. 

You are always notified in written about the withdrawal decision. After you certificate has been withdrawn, you may not make any claims regarding your conformance with the certification standard(s) and may not sell previously labelled products until certification trademarks are removed. 

If your certificate has been withdrawn, you are required to undergo renewed assessment in order to have a new certificate issued. It is not possible to reinstate the previous certificate.
 

Situations leading to withdrawal of the certificate

FSC
FM
FSC
CoC
FSC FM-CW PEFC
FM
PEFC
CoC
SAN/RA* LS CFM SBP RSPO SCC

Failure to sufficiently address the issues leading to suspension within the suspension period

X X X X X N/A X  X X

Failure to undergo renewed assessment within the suspension period after addressing the issues leading to suspension

X X X X X N/A X X
Failure to address one or more major NCs by the specified timeline           X       X

Deliberate fraud or very serious breaches of the certification requirements 

X X X X X X X X X X
Failure to undergo renewed assessment prior to certificate expiration X X X X X X X X X X

*RA = Rainforest Alliance

 

Changing the scope of the certificate

As a certificate holder, you may expand or change the scope of your certification in conjunction with your annual audit or in between audits. For all schemes and services, the following conditions apply:

You need to notify NEPCon in any of the following situations which may require formal changes in the scope of your certificate:

  • Additional product lines which you wish to sell as certified.
  • Use of new types of inputs not covered by your current scope of certification.
  • Changes in the system used for controlling claims.
  • Expansion or removal of sites covered by the certificate.  

An additional audit is normally required for scope changes outside the scheduled annual audits.  Depending on the nature of the change, the audit may be conducted as an on-site or desk audit.

 
 

Eco-labels, claims and trademarks

Each of the schemes we work with offer certificate holders the opportunity to use the systems' trademarks, eco-labels and certification claims.

As a certificate holder, you need to observe the rules of logo and trademark use. It is part of our auditing procedures to verify that you are in compliance with these rules unless you are not using trademarks at all. 

Below is a concise overview of the trademark usage conditions applying to each scheme:

Requirements for using the system's trademarks  

FSC
FM
FSC
CoC
PEFC
FM
PEFC
CoC
SAN LS CFM SBP RSPO SCC
Formal approval by NEPCon  X X       X  X    
Formal approval by the Rainforest Alliance           X        
Off-product and on-product use possible X X X X X    (X)*   X
Only off-product use allowed           X (X)* X  
Only business-to-business claims allowed                  
A trademark license agreement is signed with FSC    X  X              
A trademark license agreement is signed with SBP                X  
You obtain a logo license from the PEFC National Governing Body       X X          
A trademark license is signed with the Rainforest Alliance                
A trademark licence is signed with RSPO                 X
No license agreement required              

*CFM on-product labelling is only permitted for CFM product certification.