Answering FAQ's around

certification and maintenance

If you’re new to the certification process, we recognise that the various descriptions, processes and terminology can often be overwhelming. So, to help you get yourself up to speed, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions relating to certificate maintenance.

What’s the difference between certificate surveillance and certificate 3-year reviews?

The BBA runs 2 types of maintenance activities that ensure the ongoing relevance of that certificate in the market: surveillance and 3-year review. Certificate surveillance is an onsite manufacturing site visit that typically takes place twice a year, per manufacturing site, and assesses the production of the certified product. This is controlled via a BBA quality plan document,that confirms that all the main ingredients of that product, the checks on these ingredients, the ongoing process used in production of that product, quality checks along the way, and checks on the final product are unchanged.

A 3-year review takes place every 3-years and is a technical check of the issued certificate using a checklist of criteria to ensure that we’ve checked a wide range of things around the product itself (for example surveillance variation reports, complaints raised relating to the certified product, any references of critical changes to the product and production, any new tests conducted on the certified product, and to ultimately validate that the product being sold remains representative of the BBA-certified product).

What is meant by a Certificate Maintenance Schedule?

Having your product certified is anything but a click-and-forget process. The value of 3rd party certification is to enable your product to grow in market recognition through being verified as suitable to do a certain job; and part of that process is to the ability to demonstrate your commitment to quality, and the performance of your innovation. That’s why when we issue your certificate, we also kickstart a schedule of ongoing events throughout the lifecycle of your certificate to ensure that your product certificate is still relevant, including ensuring that that your product manufacturing process remains consistent.

We know that change happens regularly. You may source a new raw product, or your production process may change. That’s why, our certificate maintenance process looks to highlight any of these changes, and then, if necessary, address them and make any required the amendments to the certificate accordingly.

How often is my certificate reviewed after it’s been issued?

For any given certificate, the maintenance schedule usually tracks the following route:

1. Certificate Issued: This is the date that the Certificate is issued. Our publications team sends you an introductory email that includes an electronic copy of your certificate, along with your issued certificate number. As part of this email, we also send you a QR Code and a BBA Logo with your certificate number underneath, which you can then use for your own marketing purposes to demonstrate that your product is now BBA certified. As part of this process, and because we’re as proud as you are that your product has obtained BBA certification, we also invite you to get involved in some of our marketing activities to help broadcast the news. The certificate is then displayed on the BBA website for anyone to access should they need to.

2. Certificate Surveillance Schedule: On-site surveillance audits twice a year to reassess the production of the certified product, as part of an ongoing pre-agreed audit schedule.

3. Certificate 3-year Review: A review takes place every 3-years and is a technical check of the issued certificate using a checklist of criteria to ensure that we’ve checked a wide range of things around the product

On occasion, a 3-year Review has taken place while other jobs are happening simultaneously. Why does this happen?

It’s important to note that when we do a review, we’re not adding a new section / changing the certificate itself; our assessors are checking to ensure that the Certificate remains up to date and that it continues to accurately describe the performance of the product actually being placed on the market. We also look at regulatory and standards changes and review that against the current BBA Certificate style for that type of product. Because of this, it is a process that can be run simultaneously to other ongoing activity and any findings will be dealt with accordingly.

What are some of the things that may happen as a result of surveillance or reviews?

Surveillance audits and Reviews are carried out to verify and validate the authenticity of the originally certified product, and/or to review any changes so that we can determine whether any amendments need to be made to the certificate. Remember that changes in certificates are not always down to actions relating to the product or the way it is manufactured, but may be as a result of changes in regulations or legislation that may require amendments to the certificate.

Depending on the lifecycle of the product itself, a number of outcomes could occur as a result of the maintenance period:

• Certificate Technical Re-issue: A Technical Re-issue is usually recommended when a substantial change of the certificate is required following additional technical assessment. For example, if a new product is added to the scope of the Certificate. If a technical re-issue is deemed necessary, this is a compulsory change that has to be made, in order to continue the validity of a certificate.

• Certificate Non-Technical Re-issue: A Non-Technical Re-issue relates to changes of a non technical changes, that are still required for the validity of the Certificate to continue. For example, updates to the titles of Standards or Regulations, but not changes to the technical content of the documents.

• Certificate Amendment: Amendments are permissible for very basic changes for non technical, such as a change of address of the certificate holder, where no other more significance amendments are required for the Certificate.

• Review Reissue contact: This is a contract between the BBA and an existing Certificate holder covering both the Review of their Certificate, but also a non-technical Reissue at the end of the Review process. It is important to note that, should the Review identify additional changes of a technical nature, this will require an additional contract and cost to assess and amend the Certificate accordingly.

• Certificate Suspension: Suspension is usually applied where a serious issue is identified where it is identified that the Certificate no longer accurately describes the product. It may also be appropriate in their circumstances, for example when the site of production is being changed Suspension means that the existing certificate is paused (rendering it invalid during this time) and removed from the website while the issues raised are dealt with, after which it could resume and the product could then be sold once again as a BBA-certified product. However, we encourage our clients, should they know that major changes are due to occur, let us know in advance, so that our assessors can review the changes and work with you to deal with any issues raised, avoiding the least amount of certificate down-time or disruption.

• Certificate Withdrawal: A certificate withdrawal usually relates to a product no longer conforming to the original criteria it was certified against. It may be that the product itself has been withdrawn, or that processes of production or materials have changed significantly, which means that the certificate is no longer valid against the original certification scheme. When this happens, the certificate is removed from our website and is no longer searchable. When withdrawals happen, that means that the certificate is closed, and cannot be re-opened. If the product needs to be re-certified, the process is started as a new project, under a new certificate.

Review Re-issue: If we’re doing a review re-issue, does that mean my certificate is not valid as part for that period until the 3-year review takes place?

Any necessary changes to the text of the Certificate that are identified as part of the Review assessment are carried out made after the review, and the Certificate remains valid throughout the process. It doesn’t slow down the maintenance cycle, but rather, optimizes the cycle so that we can cater to any changes you may be aware of in your product lifetime.

What could cause a delay to the certification of my product?

Undergoing certification of a product, there is a lot of information that we require of you. It’s a collaborative process between the BBA and the client to ensure we have all the necessary information we need to make an accurate assessment of that product. The process is a rigorous one, which is why we will ask for very specific information from you, such as drawings, test reports, production process descriptions etc. When a client initially agrees a contract to certify their product with the BBA, we define the requirements that we’d need from them for the project. That information is then provided to us, and only once we have all the specified information to hand, the project will be kicked off – to ensure we don’t need to duplicate, or re-visit any items due to different information provided along the way. The quicker you are able to provide the information to our team, the quicker we are able to get the project underway and work with you to certify the product. The BBA is constantly looking at ways to become more efficient in the way we communicate, operate and administer projects, and if at any time you aren’t happy with the services you receive, we encourage you to let our Client Engagement team know via clientservices@bbacerts.co.uk .

What is Certificate Reproduction and how does that work if I’m only the distributor of a product manufactured elsewhere?

In the case where a product is white-labelled for distribution, the BBA offers a solution that means the distributor can also apply for their own BBA certificate for use in their own distribution marketing activity; but only if the original manufacturer of the product has an active certificate for the same product. The BBA Agrément Certificate relates to a specific product, and a specific organisation, certifying that particular product against a specific set of criteria for a particular use. Each Certificate is unique to the organisation that has requested the certification and testing to be conducted – the output of which is an individual document that complies only to that specific organisation, thus allowing that business to make use of the BBA Certification logo on their products and marketing material. When a manufacturer white-labels a product, and makes it available for re-branding and resale by another business, although the product itself might be identical, the new business that is re-branding the product, does not have authority to apply the same certificate within their promotional material, as the certificate does not correlate to their business. That’s when we are able to issue a Reproduction Certificate for the distributor to use which means that the distributor has an added benefit to verifying the credibility of the product they’re selling, and the manufacturer that their product complies to the same stringent set of criteria – increasing the value of their market share through their distribution network. In the case of Reproduction Certificates, for the distributor, maintenance usually means 1 visit per year to the business’ office in order to assess and check the supply chain, and to confirm that the product they’re distributing is still the same product as the originally-certified product, but is simply being relabelled. The process for the manufacturer of that product will be consistent with our standard maintenance schedule of surveillance and 3-year Reviews.

Need to understand our post-certificate maintenance in more detail?

Contact us.

Learn more about Certificate maintenance definitions:

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Understand the difference between Surveillance and Reviews:

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