These tips will help you ensure a smooth audit process.

Contact a Certification Body to schedule your audit

UTZ certification audits are conducted by independent third party Certification Bodies (CBs) which are approved by UTZ. Please contact a CB directly to plan a certification audit. In order to get the best offer, we recommend you to contact several CBs.

Plan your audit on time

The first certification audit shall be conducted in the period spanning from 4 months before to 4 months after the beginning of the first harvest (main/big or mid/small). If there is continuous harvest, the first harvest may take place at any period in time.

Prepare for your audit (individual/multi-site certification)

After registering, follow below steps to prepare for your certification audit:

  1. Read the Individual/Multi-site Core Code of Conduct (Code), the product specific module coffee, cocoa, tea, rooibos or hazelnuts and make sure you comply with the applicable control points.  If you also need to be audited against the Chain of Custody Standard (ChoC) for coffee, cocoa, tea, rooibos, herbal tea or hazelnuts), please read and comply with this standard as well. Our different Guidance Documents can be of help during the implementation process.
  2. Contact one of the approved Certification Bodies (CBs) and plan a certification audit;
  3. Conduct a self-assessment, using the Individual/Multi-site Code of Conduct Checklist and Code of Conduct Modules Checklist together with other documents requested in the Certification Protocol and share this with the CB before the audit takes place; this helps them on the audit preparation process. If you also need to be audited against the ChoC, please also conduct a self-assessment using the ChoC checklist
  4. Receive the certification audit.

Prepare for your audit (group/multi-group certification)

After registering, follow below steps to prepare for your certification audit:

  1. Read the Group/Multi-group Core Code of Conduct (Code), the product specific module for coffee, cocoa, tea, rooibos or hazelnuts and make sure you comply with the applicable control points. If you also need to be audited against the Chain of Custody Standard (ChoC) coffee, cocoa, tea, rooibos, herbal tea or hazelnuts, please read and comply with this standard as well. Our different Guidance Documents can be of help during the implementation process.
  2. Set up an Internal Management System (IMS);
  3. Contact one of the approved Certification Bodies (CBs) and plan a certification audit;
  4. Conduct a self-assessment, using the Group/Multi-group Code of Conduct Checklist and Code of Conduct Modules Checklist together with other documents requested in the Certification Protocol and share this with the CB before the audit takes place; this helps them on the audit preparation process. If you also need to be audited against the ChoC, please also conduct a self-assessment using the ChoC checklist;
  5. Receive the certification audit.

Check the timeline of the certification process

  • Certification decision: the Certification Body (CB) makes a certification decision within 4 weeks after all non-conformities have been resolved*, or, in case of no non-conformities, after the audit date;
  • Request license in UTZ traceability system: the CB requests a license in the UTZ traceability system within 1 week after the certification decision was taken;
  • Review request: UTZ reviews the license request within 1 week;
  • Clarification needed: in case UTZ has any questions for your CB, the request will be returned for further clarification. The CB sends the request with further information back to UTZ within 1 week. UTZ reviews this updated request within 1 week.

* Non-conformities should be resolved within a maximum of 12 weeks after the last audit date.

For more detailed information on the general certification procedure, please see pages 16/17 of the Certification Protocol.

Get recertified in time

The recertification audit needs to be scheduled in the period from 4 months before to 4 months after the expiry date of the certificate.

Request a time extension: you can request a time extension to your Certification Body (CB) up to 4 months:

  • if the original certificate is still valid and a recertification audit has been planned and confirmed;
  • during the time extension you cannot sell produce from your new harvest as UTZ certified;
  • the next certificate will be valid for the remaining time (e.g. if a 2-month extension is granted, your new certificate will be valid for 10 months).

UTZ traceability system: to avoid that your announcements are cancelled by the UTZ traceability system, please make sure that your buyer(s) confirm them before your certificate expires.

Get an extension to your certificate, when something changes

Changes that occur during the validity of a certificate and that imply an increase, may be included through extensions, for example:

  • Time (only granted if requested while the certificate is still valid);
  • Volume and area;
  • Site;
  • Group members;
  • Processing activities

To request these types of extensions to your Certification Body (CB), please see pages 20/21 of the Certification Protocol. Please note that these extensions might include an additional audit.

Read the certification protocol

To get a complete view of all the rules related to the (re-)certification process, please read the Certification Protocol.