Current stage:

Issue Prioritisation Development Selection Implementation

Improvement overview

According to the MSC's certification requirements (CR) version 1.3, the definitions and procedures for a multi-site certificate are not clear. This meant that multi-site certificates were audited and documented very inconsistently across CABs, putting the integrity and traceability system of the CoC program at risk.

This program improvement item was created to investigate options to provide clarification on the process to certify multi-site operations. The development of this item has now come to its implementation stage. New changes were released in CR version 1.4 on 31 January 2014 and become effective from 31 March 2014.

Current status

A series of public consultation stages, workshops with CABs, meetings of the MSC's Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Board of Trustees (BoT) took place between 2013 and early 2014 to produce more clarity and consistency on how certifiers should document and audit multi-site certificates. Stakeholders generally also supported the MSC in keeping a flexible definition of multi-site (i.e. not limiting the number of sites).


Core requirements

A new definition of multi-site was introduced in the CR:

Multi-site: Two or more sites that are individually audited and that share a CoC certificate.

New requirements were added to section 17.2 of the CR specifying how CABs should document and audit multi-sites:

  • CABs must assess each site of the multi-site against the requirements under 17.1 (Need for certification)
  • Sites that only do trading can be remotely audited
  • CABs can issue or renew a multi-site certificate only after all sites have been audited
  • All sites that are part of the multi-site certificate must be recorded on the MSC database
  • CABs must define the scope of each site and audit accordingly
  • Where two or more legal entities apply for a multi-site certificate, the CAB is required to sign a contract with all legal entities.

Planned work

The revised requirements and guidance were published in the MSC CR version 1.4 on 31 January 2014 and are available to download at the MSC website.

The new changes will become effective and be fully implemented by all CABs and certificate holders from 31 March 2014.