Chain of Custody

Chain of custody certification is the mechanism used to ensure the traceability of wood material from a certified forest to any point along on the supply chain. Chain of custody certification is required to substantiate any claim that wood and wood products are obtained from a certified forest.

The chain of custody is essentially an inventory tracking and control system and achieving certification demonstrates that this system meets the requirements of the chain of custody standard (AS4707 or PEFC ST 2002:2013) and has been audited by an independent accredited certification body.

In order to obtain chain of custody certification certain key requirements must be fulfilled:

  • The management systems in place outlining procedures must ensure compliance with the standard (AS4707 or PEFC ST 2002:2013). This information can be integrated into existing systems a company may have already implemented, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 procedures.
  • The personnel responsible for performing the tasks which will affect the implementation and maintenance of the chain of custody - buyers, marketing and sales personnel - must be identified, briefed and trained. It is vital to ensure that everyone involved has appropriate knowledge of the purpose and requirements of chain of custody certification.
  • The necessary checks need to be implemented to verify that sourced material is certified - production of certified goods requires procurement of certified material.
  • The processes must be implemented to ensure that the production of certified goods meets the requirements for chain of custody certification. Proof may be required at any stage of the process.
  • The records to prove that all systems comply with requirements must be properly maintained.
  • Internal audits must be conducted on an annual basis. These internal audits are in addition to external third-party audits.

Key steps towards obtaining AFS Ltd or PEFC chain of custody certification include:

  • Set up the chain of custody system and train staff; ensure compliance with the Standard's strict requirements.
  • Locate an accredited certification body, establish initial contact by phone, email or personal meeting.
  • Arrange for the independent certification body to assess the chain of custody system against the chain of custody standard and check that all requirements are fulfilled. This is done by making a formal application for chain of custody certification with the certification body of your choice. Based on this application, you will receive a proposal, including a cost estimate.
  • Costs of chain of custody certification are fixed by individual certification bodies; due to the competitive nature of the certification business, prices may vary by country and certification body.  Most certification bodies establish their fees on the basis of the time needed to carry out the audit. Audit time depends on a number of variables, including company size and complexity of the chain of custody, this averages between half a day and two days.
  • You will also be required to pay an annual AFS/PEFC notification fee in Australia OR  PEFC Notification Fee  in New Zealand.
  • A site visit by auditors from the certification body to assess compliance with the chain of custody standard.
  • Resolve, if necessary, any non-compliance issues. This is a pre-requisite before a chain of custody certificate can be issued.
  • If your chain of custody system is found to be compliant with certification requirements, you will issued AFS/PEFC certification. The chain of custody certificate is usually valid for a period of three or five years depending on the Standard used. An annual surveillance audit is required to confirm that your operation continues to comply with chain of custody requirements.
  • Subject to the payment of the required fee your certificate will be registered on the AFS and PEFC certification registers as evidence to customers that the company holds a valid Chain of custody certificate.
  • If you wish to use the AFS and/or PEFC logos you will need to enter into a logo licence agreement with AFS Ltd.
  • Renew chain of custody certification. In order to renew your chain of custody certification upon expiry, you will be required to undergo a new assessment.

For further information or for any questions about chain of custody certification please contact us via Contact Us.