Process · How to obtain a 4C Certificate

Join the 4C Certification Process - Step by Step

How to obtain a 4C Certificate

To receive and maintain a 4C Certificate, three main stages are required.

1. Preparation for Certification

Check compliance of all Business Partners to the 4C System and confirm that no Unacceptable Practices of the 4C Code of Conduct exist in the 4C Unit.

Step 1 Organisation of a 4C Unit

  • Study the 4C Certification System (ME)
  • Accept responsibility for the farmers group, or, the 4C unit (ME)
  • Identify all participants of the 4C unit, together with the farmers (ME)
  • Illustrate the flow of coffee within the 4C unit (ME)
  • Communicate to all BPs the sustainability and certification requirements of the 4C Certification System (ME)
  • Obtain the acceptance of participation in the 4C unit by all BPs (ME)
  • Diagnose the compliance level of all BPs to the 4C Code of Conduct (ME)
  • Confirm the exclusion of UAPs in the 4C unit (ME)
  • Implement the principles of the 4C Code of Conduct within the 4C unit (ME)
  • Design an IMS for the 4C unit (ME)
  • Implement the IMS within the 4C unit (ME)

BP: Business Partner
IMS: Internal Management System
ME: Managing Entity

 

2. Certification Process

All 4C Certification processes start with the application, before an actual audit takes place and the certificate can be issued. A compliance audit must be carried out by an independent third-party certification body, which is approved by 4C Services.

Step 2 Application for a 4C Audit

  • Select a 4C Services approved CB (ME)
  • Fill in the application documents and send them to the selected CB (ME)
  • Register the application in 4C portal (CB)
  • Confirm application in 4C portal (ME)
  • Validate the application process in the 4C portal (4C Services)
  • Evaluate and approve the application documents (CB)
  • Assess risk and prepare the audit plan (CB)
  • Register the audit plan in the 4C portal (CB)
  • Validate for on-site audit in the 4C portal (4C Services)

CB: Certification Body
ME: Managing Entity

Step 3 On-site 4C Audit

  • Audit the ME´s and BPs´ compliance to the 4C Code of Conduct onsite using the 4C pertinent documents (CB)
  • Prepare the IP and present it to the CB either at the closing meeting or in the following days (ME)
  • Evaluate the IP either at the closing meeting or in the following days (CB)

CB: Certification Body
ME: Managing Entity

Step 4 Audit Report Evaluation

  • Evaluate and approve the audit report and IP together with all pertinent documents and evidences (CB)

CB: Certification Body

Step 5 Certification Decision

  • Recommend to 4C Services a certification decision and upload in the 4C portal all pertinent documents and information (CB)
  • Validate the certification decision in the 4C portal (4C Services)

CB: Certification Body

3. Maintenance of the Certificate

In order to maintain the 4C Certificate, Managing Entities of 4C Units must submit two Annual Updates (one per year after the Certificate is issued) submit the Improvement Plan to report the implementation progress of planned actions related to good agricultural and management practices as described in 4C Code of Conduct. Additionally, Managing Entities of 4C Units must report annually the volumes of coffee traded as 4C Compliant Coffee through the 4C Portal.

Step 6 Continuous Improvement

  • Define and measure sustainability improvement actions according to the 4C Code of Conduct (ME)
  • Apply the Improvement Plan within the unit (ME)
  • Measure the results and impact of the Improvement Plan (ME)
  • Prepare for a follow-up audit, if required (ME)

ME: Managing Entity

 

Step 7 Annual update - end of year 1

  • Send to 4C Services an updated set of documents (ME)
  • Evaluate and approve AU1 (4C Services)
  • Receive approval from 4C Services (ME)

AU1: Annual Update end of year 1
ME: Managing Entity

Step 8 Annual update - end of year 2

  • Send to 4C Services an updated set of documents (ME)
  • Evaluate and approve AU2 (4C Services)
  • Receive approval from 4C Services (ME)

AU2: Annual Update end of year 2
ME: Managing Entity

Step 9 Application for Renewal for Certificate

  • Restart from step 1 (ME)

ME: Managing Entity

Definition of a 4C Unit and what to consider

4C Compliant Coffee is coffee that has been produced in accordance with the 4C Code of Conduct, a set of sustainable practices and principles for the production of green coffee beans. The 4C Code of Conduct applies to any type of producing entity (4C Units) based in any coffee producing country that wish to produce and sell coffee as 4C Compliant. The  4C Unit concept is very inclusive and covers any type of production facility and/or process (a group of small-scale farmers, a cooperative or a farmers’ association, a collecting station, a mill, a local trader, an export organisation, or even a roaster). There are two prerequisites to qualify as a 4C Unit:

  • Be able to produce and supply a minimum of one container of green coffee (20 tons)
  • Have a person or a group of people (Managing Entity) who can ensure the implementation of the 4C Code of Conduct

In order to receive a 4C Certificate a 4C Unit must comply with the 4C Code of Conduct and adhere to requirements relating to the organisation and management of the Unit in order to sell coffee as 4C Compliant. Additionally, Managing Entities of 4C Units must implement an Internal Management System which ensures that the 4C Code of Conduct and other requirements are properly put into practice by the Managing Entity and all Business Partners within the 4C Unit.

Set of documents to prepare per certification scope

Initial Certification

 

  • Business Partner Map
  • Flow Chart

Renewal for certificate

 

  • Updated Business Partner Map
  • Updated Flow Chart
  • Updated Improvement Plan

Addendum

 

  • Updated Business Partner Map
  • Updated Flow Chart
  • Updated Improvement Plan

Follow-Up

  • Assessment Tool (Only applicable for follow-up audits due by 31st December 2018)
  • Improvement Plan
  • Business Partner Map
  • Flow Chart

Annual Update

  • Improvement Plan
  • Business Partner Map
  • Flow Chart