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ISO 14001 : 2015 Status and Transition Planning

As has been widely communicated, ISO 14001 is currently under revision and is expected to be published in September of this year. You may also be aware that the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) has allocated a 3-year transition period (from date of publication of the standard) for certification bodies to transfer their clients from the 2004 version to the 2015 version of the standard.  Following this transition period ISO 14001: 2004 will cease to be valid.

UKAS, along with other accreditation bodies, has been preparing its approach to managing this transition. One of UKAS’ main aims is to try to ensure that accredited certification bodies are given a fair and equitable chance to obtain ISO/IEC 17021 accreditation for the delivery of ISO 14001 certification to the 2015 version of the standard in a timeframe that suits their business.

In planning this transition UKAS has taken due consideration of  “IAF ID 10: 2015 – Transition Planning Guidance for ISO 14001: 2015”.

This guidance document was published on the 27th February 2015 and provides useful information to all parties affected by the transition from ISO 14001: 2004 to ISO 14001: 2015. The document also strongly emphasises the need for early activity to ensure a smooth transition process.  As a consequence of this, and where requested by the certification body, UKAS will consider undertaking assessments against the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS), although additional review may be required if there are any identified differences between the FDIS and the final published version: Accreditation can only be granted for certification against the published International Standard.

UKAS Approach to the Transition

UKAS will be following a similar approach to that adopted for ISO 9001: 2015 (as described in a separate UKAS Technical Bulletin), the reasons for following this same approach are:

  • ISO 14001: 2015 introduces a number of new requirements and concepts and UKAS needs to ensure that each certification body has made any necessary adjustments and additions to processes and competences to take account of these changes. The UKAS head office assessment will concentrate on how this has been managed and implemented. This will concentrate on, but not be limited to, the new or updated requirements for Strategic Environment Management; Leadership; Protecting the Environment; Environmental Performance; and Lifecycle Thinking.
  • For some of the key changes it is important for UKAS to be able to ascertain that the certification body has developed competence and processes to ensure that these areas are audited effectively at the customer’s premises, therefore a witnessed assessment is an important part of the process.

It is recognised that a number of certification bodies will require the transitions to ISO 9001: 2015 and ISO 14001: 2015 to take place simultaneously; using the same transition process will support this.


Therefore the transition process will consist of:

  • Review of transition gap analysis and related documentation (this will be required whether the CB is assessed during the FDIS stage or once the standard is published);
  • Head Office Assessment, concentrating on the implementation of the changes to the standard.
  • Witnessed Assessment (to be conducted after the head office visit).

As for the ISO 9001: 2015 transition, UKAS intends to conduct transition assessments at the time of an organisation’s annual surveillance or reassessment visit. In these cases much of the transition assessment can be incorporated into existing assessment time, however extra time will be needed to cover additional activities, such as the review of gap analysis documentation.

For those organisations taking the early adoption option for ISO 9001: 2015, some assessment activity can also take place for ISO 14001 at the FDIS stage.

However where a certification body requests an earlier assessment this will be considered and, subject to suitable resource availability, will be progressed. In these cases additional costs over and above those for the annual assessment will apply: UKAS expects these to be in the region of 3-5 days (not including witnessed assessment) depending on the size and scope of the certification body’s accreditation.

In both cases the witnessed assessment activity will form part of the certification body’s annual witnessed assessment programme and therefore should not present any additional effort.

It may be possible for UKAS to witness a combined or integrated audit covering ISO 9001: 2015 and ISO 14001: 2015 in support of both transitions. If this is desired the certification body should contact their Assessment Manager as early as possible so that the necessary arrangements can be made.

Information Requirements

At the time of arranging the transition assessment, certification bodies will be asked to submit a gap analysis (detailing what changes and enhancements have been necessary to the certification body’s systems and processes) and details of transition arrangements, including communications with certified customers, training materials, and process for confirming competence; this will be reviewed and used to help formulate the transition programme. A specific email address has been set up for receipt of the above information; when requested this information should be sent to [email protected]

Audits selected for witnessing must be of a client that has implemented ISO 14001: 2015. They will need to be sufficient to demonstrate the certification body’s competence and process to audit in terms of the new standard, as well as the necessary audit planning and reporting activities. Should the witnessed assessment not be deemed suitable to demonstrate the above then UKAS may require further witnessing to take place; such additional assessment is likely incur additional cost.

Projected Timescales

The following timetable is based on current knowledge with regard to the issue status of ISO 14001: 2015, please note that at the time of drafting this letter information was received that the dates may change; UKAS will keep certification bodies updated of this.

  • 02 July 2015: Expected publication of ISO FDIS 14001
  • June to Sept 2015: UKAS internal preparation activities
  • July 2015: UKAS ready to carry out accreditation assessment activities to ISO/IEC 17021 for certification to ISO 14001: 2015, based on the FDIS
  • Sept 2015: Expected publication of ISO 14001: 2015
  • Sept 2018: End of ISO 14001 transition (based on ISO 14001: 2015 being published in September 2015)
  • Sept 2018: ISO 14001: 2004 ceases to be valid (based on ISO 14001: 2015 being published.

For any queries regarding this information please contact Kevin Belson, UKAS Technical Manager [email protected]