Chain of custody certification

FSC Latvia / Aidas Pivoriūnas
Verify your commitment to forest-friendly sourcing.
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FSC Latvia / Aidas Pivoriūnas

Understanding chain of custody certification

 © FSC Germany / Stefan-Lechner
FSC Germany / Stefan-Lechner

Chain of custody certification is how the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) verifies that forest-based materials produced according to our rigorous standards are credibly used along the product’s path from the forest to becoming finished goods. 

The FSC label on a finished product signals that the materials used during production have met the chain of custody requirements at every step in the supply chain, from sourcing to distribution. 

Unlock the power of certification

FSC certification is designed to reward your commitment to sustainability.
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If you produce finished goods

Chain of custody certification enables your organization to display the globally recognized FSC label on finished products and use FSC trademarks in your promotional materials. The FSC logo sends a strong message to the marketplace that you’re committed to protecting the health and resilience of forests worldwide. 

Learn more about our labels  →
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If you supply materials for finished goods

Certification opens the door to business opportunities that are only available to chain- of custody- certified- organizations. You are also eligible to use the FSC logo and trademarks to communicate your commitment to forest-friendly sourcing. 

Learn more about using FSC trademarks  →

The basics of obtaining chain of custody certification

Stacks of logs
FSC Lithuania/ Aidas Pivoriunas

To qualify for chain of custody certification your organization must implement a management system that ensures the following. 

  • The forest-based materials you use in part, or all of your production are FSC -certified. This includes reclaimed materials. 
  • FSC-certified material is identified and tracked during the manufacturing and distribution processes. 
  • All documents and records relating to FSC- certified product production, purchase, and sales are kept. 

You must also meet FSC’s core labour requirements, including: 

  • no child or forced labour; 
  • no discrimination in employment and occupation; 
  • freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. 

Find more information on our core labour requirements

The FSC advantage

FSC sets the standard for responsible forest management. See what we can bring to your sustainability initiatives.
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FSC / Bablu Singh
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FSC is the world’s most trusted forest certification organization.

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The FSC system is a proven, impactful method to prevent deforestation, preserve biodiversity, and protect human rights.

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We unite the most extensive certified supply chain network to increase market access.

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Our logo is recognized by 56 per cent of consumers worldwide, according to GlobeScan Global Consumer Research.*

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We have tools and resources to help support and bring your sustainability story to the world

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We balance social, environmental, and economic interests to develop solutions that benefit all.

*GlobeScan Global Consumer Research, August 2021

Chain of custody certification roadmap

To start the chain of custody certification process, contact your local FSC team. They can provide specific details for your region and help get you started.

The general process will include the following steps:

01

Choose an FSC-accredited certification body

Only third-party, accredited certification bodies can conduct audits and certify your organization. You’ll have the opportunity to select an independent body to work with. 

02

Submit an application

Your application will detail the steps your organization is taking to meet the FSC certification requirements. Your chosen certification body can help you understand which FSC requirements apply to you.

03

Complete an assessment

Your certification body will conduct an assessment to verify that you are following all appropriate standards and policies.

04

Receive approval

Once you receive certification approval, you can begin producing and selling FSC-certified products.

05

Complete an annual audit

Your certification body will conduct annual audits to assess conformance to your chain of custody certification.

Woman holding a multicolored textile
FSC / Bablu Singh

Certification makes a big impact for small businesses

Our group certification programme makes it easier and more affordable for smaller companies to earn a chain of custody certification. Specific criteria for group certification vary by market but, in general, companies with fewer than 25 employees and less than US$1 million in annual turnover may be eligible. 

Learn more by contacting your local FSC team. 

Get in touch →

Ready to get certified?

Your local FSC team is here to guide you through the certification process.

Find the FSC team in your country or region
Get in touch →

Frequently asked questions

What kinds of companies should apply for a chain of custody certification?

Chain of custody certification is designed for companies that produce and distribute forest-based products.  

This includes organizations that do the following. 

  • Label finished goods as FSC certified.  

  • Sell FSC-certified products with FSC claims on sales documents. 

  • Produce semi-finished products using FSC-certified materials (by manufacturing them, by mixing or adding forest materials to them, or by repackaging or relabeling them). 

  • Promote finished FSC-certified products (except finished and labeled products). 

Do retailers need a chain of custody certification?

Most retailers that don’t manufacture finished goods do not need chain of custody certification. A promotional licence is a better fit for these organizations. 

However, if you sell FSC-certified building products that your customers will report to green building programmes, you will need chain of custody certification. Contact your local FSC team for more information.  

How long does it take to obtain chain of custody certification? How much does it cost?

Cost and duration of the certification process can vary from case to case. For more information get in touch with your local FSC team.

Why do I need to go through a third-party certification body to obtain chain of custody certification?

FSC does not conduct auditing because it would be a conflict of interest if we evaluated compliance to our own standards. Independent certification bodies ensure that the FSC standards are applied fairly and consistently to all organizations. They bring equity to the certification process and reduce the risk of standards being compromised to favor a single company, industry, or group.

Is chain of custody certification the right choice for you?

We offer a variety of certification and licence programmes to ensure that businesses of all sizes and needs can become a force for our forests.

Find the right certification or licence for your business
Learn more →
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FSC / Arturo Escobar

Explore the complete chain of custody standard

The complete set of requirements for chain of custody certification can be found in the FSC Chain of Custody Certification Standard.

View →
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