One of the first things a company wanting to become FSC certified needs to do is select the independent 3rd-party auditing body who will test you against the FSC Standards you elect to follow. Different from FSC Consultants, a certification body, or CB, can interpret the FSC Standards as they are written but may not advise you how your company can conform to the rules outlined in the Standards.
Interpretation of FSC Standards is theoretically standardized from one CB to the next, but the reality has each certification body interpreting the Standards just a little differently than their fellow CB colleagues.
Regardless of whether you hire Swampdancer to shop the CBs for price, value, and FSC Standard interpretation, you should obtain at least three quotes from the dozen certification bodies and FSC CoC Groups that operate in the U.S. These quotes should include:
- Initial price to "get into" a certificate.
- Annual price for ongoing audits.
- Scope of Certificate including FSC Standards which you will be audited against. (So you can compare apples to apples, not apples to cored apples.)
- Number of sites the CB will visit every year. (for Multi-site or Group certificates)
- Number of sites you will need to internally audit in person every year. (for Multi-site or Group certificates.)
- Specification of what fees are included in the price they give you. (FSC AAF fees, travel fees, group membership fees, etc.)
- Timeline. Can the CB move quickly enough to get you into a certificate?