FSC® Chain of Custody

Certification for Wood and Paper Products

What is FSC® Chain of Custody?

Assure customers that your wood and paper products meet the world’s most stringent environmental, ethical, and economic sourcing standards with Forest Stewardship Council® Chain of Custody (FSC CoC) certification. Whether you are a sawmill, papermill manufacturer, broker, distributor, wholesaler, retailer, or printer, FSC CoC certification gives you access to the growing global market for responsibly sourced wood and paper products.

FSC CoC certification is available to all companies that process or sell forest products, including sawmills, secondary manufacturers, brokers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, printers, and paper merchants. For any companies taking legal ownership of certified product and wishing to pass forward certified claims, certification is mandatory. This quality management system audit verifies certified inputs and outputs, along with a range of other indicators.

Certification Types

FSC CoC operations range from simple to very complex. There are distinct CoC standards addressing companies with multiple facilities, the outsourcing of production, verification of "Controlled Wood", and recycled content. SCS offers the following certifications:

  • Single site: For companies that operate one facility and want to demonstrate environmental performance across the supply chain
  • Multi-site Certification: For companies that operate several facilities, designate a "Central Office", and manage one certificate
  • Group Certification: Allows small, independent operations to join together to designate a "Group Manager" who oversees conformity of group members on a single certificate
  • Project Certification: For new building or renovation projects, or production of a specific product

Optional add-ons include:

  • Controlled Wood Certification: Verifying compliance of non-certified inputs for production
  • Reclaimed Materials: Verifying uncertified inputs as reclaimed in order to receive full claim-contributing inputs for FSC product groups

Why Choose SCS?

As a founding member and longest-running accredited FSC certification program in the world, SCS has unparalleled experience auditing against FSC requirements in all corners of the world. SCS has certified more than 7,000 companies on 6 continents. Our leadership in FSC CoC and FSC Forest Management certification reflects the professionalism of our industry expert auditors, fast and reliable service, effective stakeholder engagement, and a deep commitment to the mission and principles around which FSC was founded. Continuously accredited by Accreditation Services International since entering the program in the early 1990s, SCS maintains a superior track record of auditing and certification to the FSC COC standard. We have the experience, expertise and local knowledge needed to successfully certify your entire supply chain.

Watch this case study video of Germany’s 1st FSC certified clothing brand, Mey

  • Benefits
  • Process
  • Complementary Services
  • FAQs
  • Certified Clients
  • Program Documents
  • Align with FSC values and support responsible forestry practices.
  • Excellent cost to benefit particularly for marketing
  • Build brand equity by showcasing your commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability by adding the trademarked FSC logo to your products.
  • Gain greater access to global markets and retailers that are increasingly requiring certified Chain of Custody traceability for products.
  • Using FSC certified materials in a LEED project can contribute towards credit achievement for both LEED 2009 and LEED v4.


  1. Apply for Certification

    Complete and submit the SCS Application form. SCS will then prepare a proposal for your approval with suggested scope of work, timeline and quote. If the proposal meets your needs you will sign a Work Order and the audit will be scheduled.

  2. Written Procedures

    Create company procedures that demonstrate how certified wood or paper products will be tracked throughout your operation. SCS provides guidance to help explain the chain-of-custody requirements.

  3. Pre-Audit Assessment

    An SCS auditor will review your procedures for thoroughness and conformance. The auditor identifies areas for improvement in the procedures prior to the audit.

  4. On-site Audit

    During a site visit, an SCS auditor will review the chain-of-custody procedures and documents (from receipt of inputs to the final sale). Additionally, the auditor will tour the facilities where certified material is handled and interview key staff. We look for evidence that staff has been duly trained in the CoC responsibilities that have been assigned to them and that staff possess an understanding of the workflow for certified products.

  5. Assessment Report

    Based on audit findings, SCS produces an audit report. The audit report is submitted to a SCS Technical Associate who validates the appropriateness of the auditor's methodology and conclusions.

  6. Make Certification Decision

    The Technical Associate decides whether to grant certification. If granted, you will be issued a certificate valid for a five-year period. Any conditional Major Corrective Action Requests (CARs) identified by SCS must be closed prior to obtaining certification. SCS can also provide client marketing support.

  7. Maintain Certification

    Annual surveillance audits are required to maintain chain-of-custody certification. Certified companies and product offerings are listed on the official FSC certificate holder database. Certified companies are granted permission to use trademarks for on-product and off-product applications in conformance with the appropriate trademark standard.

FSC CoC audits can be conducted concurrently with Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) CoC audits, enabling you to get even more value from your certification efforts. SCS also offers Controlled Wood Certification for forest management operations not ready for full FSC certification.

Additionally, wood products may qualify for SCS Recycled Content, SCS Indoor Advantage indoor air quality, or SCS CARB Formaldehyde Compliance (CARB ATCM) certification. Woody biomass producers may wish to combine PEFC Chain of Custody audits with Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) audits to reduce overall audit time and expense.

Do we need to be Chain-of-Custody certified?

Companies pursue Chain of Custody certification to demonstrate to their clients and the general public that the wood or paper products that they are selling are traceable to the certified forest of origin. Chain of Custody certification is required if your company takes legal ownership of certified materials or products and wishes to pass on a certified claim to your customer(s). Companies at the end of the supply chain, such as retailers who will not be passing the claim forward on an invoice, are not required to hold a certificate although they may choose to do so. FSC now offers retailer promotional licenses for off-product promotional purposes. Contact your local FSC office or SCS for more information.

What type of Chain-of-Custody certification do I need?

Every Chain-of-Custody certificate holder must conform to the Chain of Custody Standard. Certification to additional standards may be necessary depending on the structure of your organization (e.g. multi-site for common ownership, or group certification for small businesses without common ownership ) and the use of uncertified materials (virgin or recycled) that you might wish to source and mix with your certified materials or products. Please contact SCS to determine the available options for your enterprise.

Does FSC Chain of Custody certification make me eligible for green building program credits?

Yes, there are many green building programs such as US Green Building Council's LEED program, Living Building Challenge, LEED India, the Green Building Council of Australia and others that offer credit for the use of certified wood products in construction. Consult the green building standard, a local green building professional, or SCS to learn more.

What other drivers exist in the marketplace for FSC certified products?
Government projects (e.g. courthouses, schools, military installations) and corporate sourcing policies exceedingly call for products to be FSC certified.

How much does Chain of Custody certification cost?

Prices for SCS auditing services vary depending on the location, size and complexity of your operation. Chain of Custody systems range from simple to very complex, and there are separate CoC standards addressing companies with multiple facilities, outsource manufacturing, and the verification of recycled or non-controversial sources. Annual surveillance audits are required to maintain your certification. SCS offers reduced prices for companies that hold multiple SCS certifications (for example Chain of Custody and Indoor Air Quality or Recycled Content). Other common certifications for CoC certificate holders include food safety (packaging), carbon footprint, carbon neutrality, ISO 9001, and ISO 14001. Please contact SCS for customized recommendations specific to your business.

How long does the Chain-of-Custody certification process take?

The certification process takes approximately 6-8 weeks depending on the size and complexity of your operation. The largest component of this is audit preparation. If you have already developed your FSC procedures, certification audits can take place in a rushed format for an additional fee. For primary producers implementing a Controlled Wood sourcing program, a 6-week stakeholder consultation is required.

What sets SCS apart from other FSC COC certification bodies?

SCS has the longest running forest products certification program in the world. With a customer service orientated focus, we aim to provide superior service, responsiveness, and the highest quality specialists available. Our Chain of Custody staff includes approximately 35 fulltime experts and many more partners, affiliates, and local contract auditors. 

Can SCS help me prepare for my audit?

As an accredited 3rd party certification body, SCS is forbidden from providing any applicants with consulting services. However, we are able to provide guidance documents to help your company prepare for a certification audit. Additionally, consultant information may be provided upon request. For any companies seeking a pre-audit assessment/gap analysis, such pre-audits are available for an additional fee. Lastly, your firm will be provided with an audit plan in advance of the audit that will provide an outline for the day as well as information on documentation that may be requested during the assessment.

How long is my Chain of Custody certificate valid?

Chain of Custody certificates are valid for a period of five years, contingent on annual surveillance audits occurring once every 12 months.

How can I use the SCS Kingfisher Responsible Forestry logo?

SCS FSC certificate holders in good standing can use the Kingfisher Responsible Forestry logo for on-product and promotional claims in conjunction with use of the FSC logo. Logo use guidelines and images are provided upon achieving certification. Co-branding with SCS’ Kingfisher has resonated with consumers according to our research, as the claim ‘Responsible Forestry’ clearly communicates what the FSC certification is all about.

Current FSC Chain of Custody Certificate Holders

Details on all companies and products currently certified by SCS according to the requirements of the FSC can be found in the FSC's Registered Certificates database. This is the official database of FSC certificate holders. Find all companies certified by SCS and Public Summaries of their evaluation reports by following these steps:

  1. Go here: FSC's Registered Certificates database
  2. Select SCS (Scientific Certification Systems) within the first drop-down menu next to "Certificate Code"


Stakeholder Review

FSC requires certification bodies, under certain circumstances, to solicit stakeholder comments on our clients' Due Diligence Systems and Supply Base Report/Supply Base Report Annex 1. To see a list of current public consultations and participate by providing comments regarding conformity or nonconformity to applicable requirements, please visit our Stakeholder Review page. 

File Name Document
Chain of Custody Certification FSC-STD-40-004 Visit Site
Forest Conservation Program Chain of Custody Certification Manual English
FSC Policy: Annual Administration Fee (AAF) FSC-POL-20-005 Visit Site
FSC Standard for Project Certification FSC-STD-40-006 Visit Site
FSC® Trademark Training for Certificate Holders Visit Site
Requirements for Sourcing FSC® Controlled Wood FSC-STD-40-005 Visit Site
Requirements for use of the FSC trademarks by certificate holders FSC-STD-50-001 Visit Site
SCS International Responsible Forestry Certification – Qualifications Profile English
Sourcing reclaimed material for use in FSC Product Groups or FSC Certified Projects FSC-STD-40-007 Visit Site
Why Work with SCS? English

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Forestry Business Group