Certification Cycle


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The Certification Cycle is the process by which QMS is able to manage the audit criteria for an organisation.

A graphic of the three year ISO Certification Cycle showing The re-certification audit and the two surveillance audits
As an accredited certification body, QMS is responsible for ensuring strict guidelines are met when verifying the ongoing compliance of a certified organisation against a set standard (for example, ISO 9001). To achieve this, QMS auditors must complete a series of audits over a 3-year period: a Re-certification Audit and two Surveillance Audits.

The cycle begins with a Re-certification Audit, a year after a business has received their certificate. This is followed by 2 Surveillance Audits.

Certification cycle diagram

The Re-certification Audit will cover all of the documented processes within an organisation ensuring that they are being carried out as documented, and still conform to the Standard.

The first of the Surveillance Audits is still checking that the documented processes comply with the Standard, but will only look at several mandatory processes and a selection of the remaining processes.

The final year in the three year cycle will consist of another Surveillance Audit, covering several mandatory processes and the remaining processes not covered in the previous year.


At the end of the 3-year Certification Cycle the process will repeat for as long as a company is certified by QMS.

Read more about the Certification Cycle in our Understanding the QMS Certification Cycle leaflet.


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