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Generic ISO 14001 EMS Templates

Generic ISO 14001 EMS Templates
(ISO 14001 : 2004 version)
User Manual

Chapter IV


ISO 14001 Certification Process


Third-party certification is performed by a registered external auditing organisation, normally referred to as a Certification Body (CB). An expert third-party audits the EMS for compliance with all elements of ISO 14001. Third-party certification of an organisation's EMS can help to establish credibility and inspire greater confidence in external stakeholders (e.g., customers, the public, regulators, governments, and other organisations) because of the perception that third-party certifiers act independently and audit an organisation's EMS in an unbiased manner.


This Section details the typical ISO 14001 certification process in line with the requirements of ISO/IEC Guide 66 (General requirements for bodies operating assessment and certification/registration of environmental management systems).  The certification process is a multi-stage process as shown in Figure 4, which is based on the requirements of ISO/IEC Guide 66 and common practices of certification bodies in Hong Kong, however there may be some variation in practice between certification bodies.  Organisations planning for certification must appoint a CB ahead of time and provide usually 3 months of implementation evidence before certification. 


The cost for certification can be varied among companies with different size and risks to the environment, and also among CBs.  As a reference, the average manday rate for certification is about $7,000 and the total cost for SMEs can be ranging from $20,000 to $50,000, based on the year of 2004 estimate, depending on the scope and nature of the organisation.  For further enquiry on the cost for certification, please consult individual CBs as listed in Appendix 4.


Table 7 briefs the general steps toward ISO 14001 certification and certification requirements.

Table 7. General steps toward ISO 14001 Certification

Step 1:

Select Certification Body


Select your Certification Body (CB), a list of Certification Body common in Hong Kong is provided in Appendix 4.   Some CBs will pay an initial visit to clients to explain their certification process and to understand the potential clients' activities on site in order to give the client an accurate quotation for the certification.

Step 2 :

Complete Questionnaire and Establish Contract

When applying for ISO 14001 certification, it is necessary to complete a questionnaire to allow CB to assess the nature, scale and complexity of your organisation.  This will determine the skill and time allocation required to carry out a comprehensive and efficient assessment.  From this a quotation will be produced confirming the cost of certification, ongoing surveillance and re-assessment.  Following acceptance of the quotation, the CB will arrange certification schedule for your organisation. 

Stage 3 :

Document Review

CB will ask you to provide your organisation's EMS document for auditor review.  The purpose of document review is to check that the documented EMS fully reflects all necessary requirements and is capable of delivering full compliance with ISO 14001.

Stage 4 :

First Stage Assessment

The first stage assessment (FSA) consists of a site tour and system overview to establish that your EMS relates to your environmental aspects.  A detailed plan is provided in advance of the visit and a full report produced on-site, together with a plan for the certification assessment.  Any nonconformity identified at this stage will require a corrective action plan.

Stage 5 :

Certification Assessment

The certification assessment, which normally follows approximately one month after the FSA, is a review of the effectiveness of the implemented EMS against ISO 14001 Standard and your organisation's own requirements.  A full report is prepared at the end of the audit.  This is reviewed with you at a closing meeting, and a recommendation for registration will be made if there is no major nonconformity found. Where necessary you will be requested to provide a corrective action and preventive action plan or follow-up visit before a recommendation is made. 

Stage 6 :

Award Certification

If satisfactory, an independent review will be conducted on the report.  Following a satisfactory review, CB will award certification.  Certificates are valid for three years, subject to satisfactory surveillance visits.

Step 7 :

Surveillance Visit

Following certification, routine surveillance is carried out on a six to twelve month basis.  The final visit in the certification cycle is termed a renewal visit. 

Step 8 :

Renewal Assessment

A recommendation is made from this review on certificate renewal, together with any adjustment required to the ongoing surveillance plan.  The renewal package is then reviewed independently and if satisfactory, certification is renewed for another three-year period.


Figure 6. ISO 14001 Certification Process
Figure 6. ISO14001 Certification Process

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