Digital accredited certification verification service builds confidence in global trade
UKAS CertCheck digitally verifies the authenticity of United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited management systems certification. This free to use service enhances the supply chain management process and helps lower technical barriers to trade, both nationally and internationally.
CertCheck offers those holding accredited certification a more convenient way to prove their credentials to a potentially wider marketplace, whilst simultaneously providing third-party assurance to those specifying accredited certification from their suppliers. In addition to speeding up the tendering process, this reduces the opportunity for fraud, helping businesses work together with greater confidence.
It’s perhaps easy to think of each conformity assessment as being carried out for a singular purpose and for an individual client. However, accredited conformity assessment is part of a much wider eco-system, one that supports frictionless trade across international borders and is concerned with health, safety, fitness for purpose and quality regardless of industry or country.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is well underway and the conformity assessment sector is already behind other industries on the digital adoption curve. Collating and digitising conformity assessment information in a secure, recognised source allows the relevant parties to check credentials anywhere and at any time. It speeds up the verification process, creates a chain of traceability and helps identify potential areas for concern. In addition to allowing information and status to be easily updated, digitisation also puts control over certificates back in the hands of issuing bodies, helping to prevent fraud and allowing status and information to be easily updated.
Having a robust supply chain is an essential element of modern business, particularly for those trading across international borders. Verifying that potential suppliers hold essential accredited certification is a key part of building a reliable network. Many organisations in both the public and private sectors specify that prospective suppliers must hold accredited certification.
According to the most recent ISO Survey of Management System Standards, there are nearly 2 million valid management systems certificates in use across the world. Over 90% of these certificates are from one of the three most popular management system standards, namely ISO 9001 Quality management systems — Requirements, ISO 14001 Environmental management systems — Requirements with guidance for use and ISO 45001 Occupational health and safety management systems — Requirements with guidance for use.
Organisations are responsible for their own due diligence in ensuring the claims made by their suppliers are current and valid. Independently checking the authenticity of each applicant’s certification is an integral part of procurement best practice, but it can be a time-consuming and fragmented activity. Historically this was done through a two-stage process that firstly confirmed that the certificate issued by the certification body was authentic and valid, and secondly checked that the certification body was currently accredited for this particular activity.
Digitalisation is very much part of UKAS’s strategic development and both its own eCerts system (for accreditation certificates) and CertCheck (for accredited certification) are a key part of supporting the digitalisation of conformity assessment.
Launched in June 2022, UKAS CertCheck provides a quick, easy and free way to verify the authenticity and validity of accredited certifications. By automating and combining the certification and accreditation verification stages into one comprehensive yet straightforward online service, CertCheck brings speed, clarity and confidence to the accredited certification vetting process.
The accredited certifications within CertCheck cover a vast array of widely recognised and commonly used management systems; ranging from the long-established quality (ISO 9001), environmental (ISO 14001) and occupational health and safety (ISO 45001) standards; to newer information security (ISO 27001), energy management (ISO 50001) and supply chain security (ISO 28000) standards; to more sector-specific standards such as food safety (ISO 22000) and medical devices (ISO 13485).
Entirely self-funded by UKAS, CertCheck is free to use and open to everyone, regardless of industry sector or country. Searching on CertCheck provides a simple confirmation whether a certification is both genuine and current. Users are able to search by either company name or certificate number, with the results showing all the UKAS accredited certifications held by that company. There is also the option of creating a free account, which provides an increased number of daily searches and allows registered users to monitor certifications, set up notifications for changes in certification status and directly message certification bodies with relevant enquiries.
Results and impact
CertCheck is a growing database of over 400,000 management systems certifications issued worldwide by UKAS accredited certification bodies. All of the common management systems certifications are represented; ISO 9001 accounts for over half of the certificates held within CertCheck, with ISO 14001, ISO 45001, ISO 27001 and ISO 20000 together making up over a third.
In the first six months since its launch in June 2022, the CertCheck website has been viewed tens of thousands of times and several thousand users have opted to register (free of charge) for an enhanced service. Although CertCheck is a United Kingdom-based service only 20% of its users are from the United Kingdom, with China, India, Japan and USA being the next most popular locations. This emphasises CertCheck’s wide global appeal and demonstrates its value in lowering technical barriers to trade, by helping businesses throughout the world work together with greater confidence across international borders.
Despite being a relatively new service, CertCheck has received strong support from UK government, certification bodies and quality professionals. Paul Scully MP, then Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets described CertCheck as a service that “will make it easier for businesses to ensure their suppliers are walking the walk when they talk the talk about holding accredited certification.” Wayne Terry, Chief Executive of the Association of British Certification Bodies said: “Defrauding the procurement process undermines the hard work that many organisations go through to achieve valid accredited certification. UKAS CertCheck will give confidence to organisations that rely upon accredited certification helping them ensue those claims are valid.” Similarly Vince Desmond, CEO of the Chartered Quality Institute views CertCheck as a “game changer”, adding: “Quality professionals and their organisations often have to deal with unaccredited and even counterfeit certification. Making this tool available to relevant people in their businesses will help hugely.”
Jeff Ruddle, Strategic Development Director. e: email@example.com