PEFC International

Custody Certification Services



In order to provide assurances that wood and wood-based products originate from sustainably managed forests, PEFC promotes Chain of Custody (CoC) certification.CoC certification outlines requirements for tracking certified material from the forest to the final product to ensure that the wood contained in the product or product line originates from certified forests.

PEFC Chain of Custody certification is essential for

  • companies to implement and demonstrate ethical business behaviour, and
  • consumers to make responsible purchasing decisions.

For a product to qualify for certification, all entities along the supply chain must possess a PEFC Chain of Custody certificate. Only then are companies eligible to use the PEFC label on their products and in product marketing to highlight the responsible sourcing of the raw material.

PEFC Chain of Custody certification offers benefits to a range of business-sector stakeholders.

For the wood-processing industry, PEFC Chain of Custody certification can improve efficiency and production systems through enhanced traceability and accounting.

Selling certified materials through a Chain of Custody system also improves the image of the sector and can promote products to consumers, particularly as an alternative to other less sustainable or more energy-intensive materials.

PEFC Chain of Custody certification offers important advantages to retailers and traders (who purchase from the wood-processing industry), which can improve their licence to operate and enhance their image by promoting wood and non-timber forest products from sustainable sources.

In addition, it can open up new markets and increase the customer base as more and more consumers demand wood from certified sources. Public and private procurement policies increasingly require wood and wood-based products to originating from sustainably managed forests, and often specify PEFC certification as evidence. Certification is likely to become part of a companies' license to operate in many countries.

With increasing demand for products from responsibly managed forests, business interest in Chain of Custody certification along the timber value chain is soaring.

PEFC’s Chain of Custody certification offers several important benefits.

A clear and transparent message

The simple action of being able to include the PEFC logo on a product or product-line communicates to the customer in a clear, concise and transparent manner that wood and non-timber forest products have been sourced from sustainably-managed forests.

Access to markets

Chain of Custody certification offers companies access to markets demanding eco-friendly products and market advantage in relation to companies with uncertified products. It enhances brand value.


Chain of Custody certification permits businesses to be confident about the sourcing of their timber and wood-based products.


Chain of Custody certification offers assurances that the final wood and/or non-timber product can be traced back to a sustainable source and that production processes used to transform the finished product have been implemented with due respect for environmental, economic and social standards.

Risk management

Chain of Custody certification includes a due diligence system to exclude wood from unknown, illegal and controversial sources. By implementing and maintaining a robust Chain of Custody system, companies can provide assurances that their products do not contain wood from illegal sources.

Business leadership on sustainability

By opting for PEFC Chain of Custody certification, businesses in the wood and forestry sector can enhance their competitive advantage over other suppliers in the value chain.

Availability and choice

Two-thirds of the world's certified forest area is certified to PEFC standards. That's currently more than 300 million hectares, offering the widest supply of certified fiber and timber.

PEFC Chain of Custody certification is based on best practice guidelines for certification.

It uses globally implemented ISO guidelines to ensure independence, transparency and impartiality of the certification process.

Key Requirements

In order to obtain PEFC Chain of Custody certification, certain key requirements must be fulfilled.

  • The management systems in place outlining procedures must ensure compliance with the PEFC International Chain of Custody standard. This information can be integrated into existing systems your company may have already implemented, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 procedures.
  • The personnel responsible for performing the tasks which will affect the implementation and maintenance of the Chain of Custody, e.g., buyers, marketing and sales personnel, must be identified, briefed and trained. It is vital to ensure that everyone involved has appropriate knowledge of the purpose and requirements of Chain of Custody certification.
  • The necessary checks need to be implemented to verify that sourced material is certified – production of certified goods requires procurement of certified material. The PEFC product database is a good resource for identifying suppliers of certified material.
  • The processes must be implemented to ensure that the production of certified goods meets the requirements for Chain of Custody certification. Proof may be required at any stage of the process.
  • The records to prove that all systems comply with requirements must be properly maintained.
  • Internal audits must be conducted on an annual basis. These internal audits are in addition to external third-party audits.

Key Stages

What follows is a description of some of the key stages required to obtain Chain of Custody certification:

  • Set up the Chain of Custody system and train staff; ensure compliance with PEFC's strict requirements.
  • Locate a PEFC-notified certification body in your country (if your country is not listed, please select 'PEFC Council'); establish initial contact by phone, e-mail or personal meeting.
  • Arrange for an independent certification body to assess your  Chain of Custody system against the Chain of Custody standard and check that all requirements are fulfilled.

    This is done by making a formal application for Chain of Custody certification with the certification body of your choice. Based on this application, you will receive a proposal, including a cost estimate. Costs of PEFC Chain of Custody certification are fixed by individual certification bodies; due to the competitive nature of the certification business prices may vary by country and certification body.

    Most certification bodies establish their fees on the basis of the time needed to carry out the audit. Audit time depends on a number of variables, including company size and complexity of the Chain of Custody. This averages between half a day and two days.
  • A site visit by auditors from the certification body to assess compliance with the PEFC International Chain of Custody Standard will be arranged.
  • Resolve, if necessary, any non-compliance issues. This is a pre-requisite before a Chain of Custody certificate can be issued.
  • If your Chain of Custody system is found to be compliant with certification requirements, you will be issued PEFC certification. The Chain of Custody certificate is usually valid for a period of three years. An annual surveillance audit is required to confirm that your operation continues to comply with Chain of Custody requirements.
  • Renew Chain of Custody certification. In order to renew your Chain of Custody certification upon expiry, you will be required to undergo a new assessment.

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