MSC chain of custody certification procedure


Stage 1. Decision-making


The enterprise performing such types of activities as trading, wholesale, storage, processing, etc. (further on referred to as the Client) decides to certify a chain of custody in conformity with the MSC requirements and chooses an accredited certification body to conduct certification (further on referred to as the Contractor). The Client sends a certification application to the Contractor using the template approved by the Contractor.  Based on the application information about the Client, the Contractor determines the preliminary scope and necessity of certification, perspectives of the successful evaluation process and audit costs.


Stage 2. Signing a contract


Having discussed the certification process, including the Client’s tracking of the products origin and all successive processing stages, the Contractor makes a commercial offer to the Client regarding certification costs and a procedure. Once the offer is accepted and all conditions are agreed upon, the Client and Contractor sign a certification contract. The contract is not bounded by the certification period.

Stage 3. Pre-audit


A preliminary chain of custody audit is not mandatory but it allows the Contractor to obtain general overview of the Client’s structure, while the Client may get familiar with the MSC and Contractor’s requirements. If the pre-audit is conducted, it is stipulated in the additional agreement to the certification contract.


The main aim of the pre-audit is to define areas that may require additional work or close attention of the Client before the main audit; the scope of certification is also clarified.


A report will be provided to the Client upon the audit findings including conclusions about the chain of custody conformity with effective MSC requirements.


MSC also provides the opportunity for the enterprise to evaluate its preliminary compliance with the MSC CoC requirements by using an MSC check-list for preliminary audits available on the MSC website


Stage 4. Management documents review


Prior to the initial audit the Client may provide the Contractor with the most important documents, so that the Contractor could study specifics of the planning and management process in detail. This is necessary for the audit’s enhancement.


Stage 5. Initial audit


The Contractor jointly with the Client plans the initial audit. 

The main issues to be checked at the initial audit are:


  • identification of the manufactured products;
  • products segregation (certified and non-certified);
  • chain of custody reconciliation;
  • tracing system testing;
  • documentation system (incl. bookkeeping);
  • training and information about the personnel


Based on the audit findings, the Contractor provides a report to the Client; this report stipulates all non-conformities with the applicable MSC standards’ requirements.


Stage 6. Certificate issue and registration


Once the Client eliminates major non-conformities and they are closed in the report, the report is forwarded to the Certification Committee of the Contractor. The Certification Committee decides whether an MSC chain of custody certificate can be issued. In case of a positive decision of the Certification Committee the CoC certificate will be issued for 3 years.


Stage 7. Surveillance audits


With the frequency determined the Contractor will carry surveillance audits of the Client to monitor implementation of the conditions raised in the report. Main attributes of such audits include monitoring how materials’ records are kept as well as monitoring products input/output.