Consumers around the world expect the products they purchase to comply with their intended usage, and, when used, not to represent a risk for their health, their security or the environment.
Simultaneously, governments highly prioritize the promotion of international trade all the while working to protect the health of the consumer, the security and the environment. This is accomplished by setting up legal and technical frameworks, as well as control mechanisms to guarantee these are abided by.
Thus, working within a legal framework, most standards organisations mandate independent third-party companies, such as Cotecna, to supervise the Verification of Conformity process. The latter ensure the maintenance of a strong level of control on goods entering the domestic market.
While the specific process may differ depending on the country, all conformity assessment programmes follow a broad 5 step process:
1. Preliminary verification
Following the receipt of the request of the applicant, we identify the relevant standards required for its execution. Then, we verify that the competences required are available and which procedures should be applied, which can be a combination of sampling, laboratory analysis and audit. To summarise, this first step allows us to define the “who, how and when” as follows:
- Receipt of the request
- Documentation review
- Decision on what needs to be done, which route to choose (A, B or C)
- Definition of the scope of work:
- Identification of the standards
- Interpretation of the standards
- Identification of required competencies
- Definition of procedures to apply
Cotecna is in charge of providing the necessary instructions to the involved parties (inspector, laboratory and auditor) and verifies that the parties are able to carry out the required tasks that have been decided in step 1. This could involve the following actions:
- Laboratory analyses (internal or partner)
- Factory audit
- Pre-shipment inspection
This is the technical analysis of the file, and the evaluation of the results. Strictly speaking, this is the assessment of conformity. At the end of this step, conclusions are recorded in a report, where all detected non-conformity is recorded.
This is when the decision to certify is made, which is documented and signed off by the person who made this decision. Generally, it is made by the technical committee, the Regional Office, an expert, or even a director. Ultimately, the certification decision is materialised with the issuance of a Certificate of Conformity (COC) or a Non-Conformity Report (NCR).
This is the continuous conformity assessment of certified products with regard to requirements of the importing market. This is performed randomly, in different manners such as:
- Random loading supervision
- Arrival verification
- Surveillance of quality management systems
- Control audits of manufacturing process
- Regular inspections
- Random product laboratory testing
- Control of factory production registry
It is to be noted that the frequency and extent of surveillance are generally defined jointly with the authorities responsible for the setup of the Verification of Conformity program. In the absence of precise requirements, Cotecna operates its surveillance verifications punctually and randomly.
List of Conformity Assessment Programs
To learn more about a specific conformity assessment program, please choose from the list below:
If you have any questions regarding the conformity assessment process, or would like to request a certificate of conformity for your exports, please contact us.