Newsletter Stories

Wednesday, 01 April 2020
Coronavirus: Letter and Ongoing Updates

Given the recent developments around the global outbreak of COVID-19 and increasing travel restrictions, we have updated the derogation that allows certification bodies unable to conduct on-site audits to either postpone the audit or replace it with desk audits. Internal auditors of group and multi-site certificates will soon be given similar options.

FSC is aware that desk audits cannot fully replace on-site audits, but we see this derogation as justified in the current situation: Our priority is to protect the health of certification body teams and certificate holders, and to support global measures to minimize the spread of the virus. To mitigate the difference in audit intensity and enable us to monitor the situation, we are setting up additional reporting requirements for CBs.

With these flexible audit options, we aim to assure certificate holders that they need not be concerned about losing their certification status because auditors and staff are unable to conduct on-site audits in these challenging times. Additional information can be found in the FSC derogation FSC-DER-2020-001. This derogation is valid until December 31, 2020.

For certified companies and auditors in the United States, please contact with questions.

As a global organization, the Forest Stewardship Council is acutely aware of challenges raised by the novel coronavirus pandemic. We are monitoring evolving guidance from the World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local public health agencies on a daily basis.

Given government and organization mandated precautions and travel restrictions, we have received reports of certification bodies that are unable to conduct on-site audits of some of their clientele. FSC International has already instituted a derogation providing some flexibility in these circumstances, but the crisis is rapidly escalating and FSC is evaluating additional mechanisms to accommodate certificate holders and their certification bodies. Currently, in such a case where there is a demonstrated security risk, on-site audits may be replaced by desk-audit, as an exceptional event. This applies to on-site audits in regions with coronavirus-related security risks, as defined in official security warnings, and where a desk audit can credibly be conducted.

We respect the decisions made by organizations and individuals related to travel, work from home and social distancing. If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to send them to us at and put “coronavirus” in the subject line so we can prioritize our review and consideration.

Thank you.