Assurance Code

Volkopi Coffe community outreach specialist, Indonesia © Noah Jackson, 2011
ISEAL has a Code of Good Practice for Assuring Compliance with Social and Environmental Standards (the Assurance Code). Our members know that effective, high quality, efficient assurance is not only critical, but also challenging.

The purpose of the Assurance Code is to provide guidance for high quality assurance that supports sustainability and improves the effectiveness of different verification and certification models. During 2017, ISEAL is revising the Assurance Code through an extensive global consultation process. Find information about how you can engage in this consultation here.

Read the Assurance Code online

The ISEAL Assurance Code sets out minimum criteria for implementation of the assurance process while recognising that different models can be effective for different purposes. The Code builds on a set of principles for effective assurance and describes how these principles are applied in practice. The Assurance Code also references and builds on existing guidance for good practices in certification and accreditation.

The intent of the Assurance Code is not to duplicate existing requirements but to provide additional guidance on practices that are relevant to the implementation of sustainability standards. Within these standards there are many different types of assurance that can be credible and appropriate. Assurance models that are fit for the purposes they serve are capable of scaling-up while at the same time continuing to serve as useful tools to mitigate the risks of non-compliance.

By implementing the Assurance Code, organisations can develop assurance systems that ensure audit consistency and rigour at the same time as promoting accessibility and efficiency. The Code also drives standards systems to innovate in areas such as risk management in order to make their systems more effective and drive the uptake of certification. The ISEAL Credibility Principles such as transparency, impartiality, accessibility and rigour underpin the Assurance Code.

Published in 2012, the Assurance Code is the newest of the three ISEAL Codes of Good Practice.  ISEAL members are currently working towards demonstrating full compliance, which they should complete by late 2017. Learn more about ISEAL membership process and compliance with our Codes. 


Further Information

If you have questions, comments or suggestions regarding the Assurance Code please contact Ana Garzon at
You may also participate in the revision of the Assurance Code in 2017 by visiting our Assurance Code consultation page. 

Related information and resources

New report: ISEAL members more transparent and supportive to small producers than other sustainability standards

A new policy report finds a positive relationship between ISEAL membership and “producer-friendly” sustainability standards systems.

Criticism on audits and assurance: an ISEAL response

Criticism continues to arise about audits, both those of standards and company’s own inspections. ISEAL explores two issues, including how competent auditors are needed to ensure audits don’t maintain the status quo, and how credible standards should seek continuous improvement in their assurance so as to support overall governance regimes in important sectors.

Table of Resources for Compliance with the Assurance Code

This table includes resources and guidance available to support ISEAL members in meeting the Assurance Code. This overview will be updated on an ad hoc basis.

ISEAL Assurance Code Interpretation of clause 6.6.1

This normative interpretation provides guidance on how to interpret clause 6.6.1 of the ISEAL Assurance Code and specifically, the extent to which scheme owners can introduce objective and transparent criteria for certification body participation in their scheme that can be applied in a non-discriminatory way. This interpretation was approved by the ISEAL Technical Committee in December, 2014.

ISEAL Assurance Code Interpretation of clause 5.1.2

This normative interpretation provides guidance on how to interpret clause 5.1.2 of the ISEAL Assurance Code and specifically, what standards systems need to do to show that they meet the intent of the requirements in ISO/IEC 17065 or 17021 should their standards system not require accreditation of certification bodies to these standards.

Development of the ISEAL Assurance Code - June 2011

This is presentation to the ISEAL Conference in 2011

Presentation on ISO 17065

This presentation was prepared by the ISO Working Group that developed ISO 17065, which has superseded IS0 65.

Dispute resolution key to FSC decision to dissasociate from company operating in DRC

The credibility of the standards system underpins the value of any claims made on behalf of the standard. The imposition of sanctions by FSC against the Danzer group, resulting from complaints about human rights violations committed by one of its subsidiaries, exemplifies the importance of robust mechanisms to address complaints made about a certified entity and protect the credibility of a standard.

Presenting the Assurance Code

A webinar delivered by ISEAL Credibility Director Patrick Mallet about ISEAL's newest Code of Good Practice - the Assurance Code - which aims to provide guidance on how sustainability standards systems can develop strong and credible practices for verifying compliance with social and environmental standards.

Assurance Code Newsletter Oct 2012

It has taken 21 months following the ISEAL Code Development procedures to arrive at the completed Version 1. I am happy to report that the ISEAL Board of Directors have given their approval for Version 1 of the Assurance Code and this will be my last newsletter for this project.