Step 1: Get the facts
When you decide that you want to be certified, your first step is to get more information from the relevant certifying body. This could be Green Seal, the Marine Stewardship Council, the Canadian Organic Growers, ISO or another certifying body. Visit the website, order or download the publications and other information. There are many certifications out there. Make sure you choose the one that is most relevant to your product or service and the export market you want to reach.
Getting a good understanding of what is required and getting prepared before you apply for certification could save you time and money. For example, if you want to gain Green Seal certification for a product or service, go to www.greenseal.org and review the Green Seal standards and other documentation to see how you measure up. Most certifying bodies explain the steps involved in becoming certified and give you an idea of how long it will take. It could take just a few months—or a few years.
If you are a farmer who wants to become certified organic, you will find that there are several certifying bodies to choose from. The certifying body you decide to work with may be decided, in part, by the markets you are targeting. For example, Japan may have different standards from the European Union.
What is pre-assessment?
Once you understand the certification process, you may find that you are able to make what is known as a a 'preliminary request' or undergo a pre-assessment. This is an initial phase that some certifiers offer which lets you see whether you are ready to apply for full assessment. A Marine Stewardship Council certifier, for example, will provide you with a pre-assessment report that tells you about any potential problems you may need to address before progressing to full assessment.
Step 2: Submit an application to the certifier