Frequently asked questions about applying for IRCA certification – covering recertification, training requirements, how to record your audit experience and how to pay.
My IRCA certification has lapsed, but I’d like to come back. Do I need to submit a new application?
If your certification expired more than three years ago, then you will need to submit a new application form and the relevant supporting documents. If your certification expired less than three years ago, you just need to fill in the Return to IRCA form and send us a CPD log, audit log and signed declaration. Find out more here, or get in touch if you need any help.
Can I apply directly for Lead Auditor / Principal Auditor grade or do I have to register at a lower grade first?
Yes, you may apply directly for the grade of your choice, as long as you meet the requirements – you don’t have to start at the lowest grade.
For more information about the criteria for Principal Auditor click here.
Can I have more than one IRCA certification?
Yes. You can hold as many certifications as you like on different schemes but you cannot hold more than one grade on the same scheme. Please note that each certification incurs its own set of fees.
I am not sure whether to apply for the Principal Auditor or Lead Auditor grade. Which would be more suitable for me?
The Principal Auditor grade is regarded as an equivalent standard to Lead Auditor, but is intended for those who do not have the opportunity to lead teams of auditors on a regular basis. Principal Auditors are often people who have moved to training, consultancy or management roles. It offers highly experienced auditing professionals appropriate recognition without requiring them to complete audits, which may no longer be part of their job.
For more information about the criteria for Principal Auditor click here.
Do I have to pay to recertify?
No, there is no additional charge for recertifying, but you are required to pay an annual fee as normal once your recertification is complete.
For more information about IRCA recertification click here.
How do I get a certification card?
After we have reviewed your application, established your grade and you have paid your annual fee, we will send you your IRCA auditor card. We’ll then send you a new one every year. Every five years, when your recertification is due, you will receive a renewal notification, listing documentation required to obtain your new card. The new card will be sent to you after we have completed the renewal evaluation and established your grade, and you have paid your annual fee.
I don’t think I meet the renewal requirements, but I don’t want to lose my certification. What should I do?
Please contact us for advice. Each year many auditors who believe they have not fulfilled the CPD or audit requirements go on to renew successfully after discussing their situation with a member of our certification team. (For example, we have found that most auditors underestimate the amount of CPD they actually complete.)
What training courses are accepted?
In order to become an IRCA Certificated Auditor you must have successfully completed an IRCA Certified Training course in the past five years. The training course must be relevant to your grade and scheme.We will consider training completed more than five years before your application if you can also provide evidence of recent and relevant continuing professional development (CPD) and work experience, and evidence that your auditing skills are current. Please send a copy of your training course certificate to support your application. IRCA reserves the right to verify information about courses you've completed with the relevant organisation and individuals.
IRCA does not accept certificates of attendance as evidence of completing training. Certificates must be of ‘successful completion’ of a course. (The only exception to this rule is that we will accept a certificate of attendance at an Auditor/Lead Auditor course, as meeting the training requirement for the Internal Auditor grade.)
In exceptional circumstances, we may accept a course that is not IRCA Certified. Please get in touch with our membership team if you've completed a course that is not IRCA Certified, or if you're not sure. Visit our training section for a list of IRCA Certified Training courses.
Recording your audit experience
How do I record my audit experience?
Your audit experience should be recorded and submitted on an IRCA audit log, which you can download below.
What kinds of audits are accepted?
For the purposes of certification, audits must have been performed:
- In the last three years before your application
- After successfully completing an IRCA-certified training course
- In accordance with the auditing guidance standard ISO 19011 or ISO 17021
- Against the relevant standard for the scheme for which you are applying, or an acceptable alternative (to check accepted standards for each scheme, visit the scheme pages, listed here).
How do you count the number of days spent on combined/integrated audits?
If you've conducted an audit of a combined/integrated management system involving two or more standards, the number of audit days we will count for the purposes of your application will be split equally between the standards. When assessing your audit experience we will only take into account the number of days assigned to the scheme for which you are applying.
Do you accept internal audits?
We may accept internal audits for the Auditor, Lead Auditor and Principal Auditor grades, provided that the audits were of the full management system covering all clauses and requirements of the applicable management system standard, and that it was of a part of the organisation from which you are entirely independent (eg a separate business unit). Along with your audit log, please submit the following information for internal audits:
- An organisation structure diagram of the company, showing the auditor’s independence from the system audited
- A sample audit report
- Any additional information that may support your application.
Do you accept consultancy audits?
We will accept consultancy audits where:
- The client (the auditee) already had a fully established management system prior to the audit
- You had no part in setting up the management system being audited (except in such specific circumstances as described below)
- The scope of the audit included all elements of the management system.
Do you accept surveillance (partial system) audits?
We do not accept surveillance (partial system) audits for the purposes of Auditor/Lead Auditor initial certification or regrades.
Do you accept remote audits?
Remote audit activities are activities performed at any place other than the location of the auditee, regardless of the distance. IRCA will accept remote audits as a substitute for the required on-site audit days if there has been as much interaction between the auditor and the auditee as would occur during an on-site audit.
Interaction may be by video conferencing, document and record-sharing systems, etc. If you have conducted extensive remote audits that you feel are suitable, please provide additional information including the scope and nature of the audit, and, if possible, supporting documentation such as audit plans and reports.
What audits do you not accept?
We will not accept the following kinds of audit:
- Audits of the same management system that occur more frequently than once every 12 months
- Audits of less than one day’s duration (six hours of audit activity, exclusive of breaks), except for the internal auditor grade, where we will accept audits of three hours exclusive of breaks
- Gap analysis, close out or follow-up visits.
Audits that you performed before successfully completed an IRCA Certified Training course, or which you conducted more than three years prior to certification, will only be accepted under exceptional circumstances. Get in touch with our membership team if you have any questions about this.
What auditing standards do you accept?
We accept audits performed against standards that we have evaluated as being acceptable alternatives to the main international standards. A list of acceptable alternative standards for each auditor scheme is available on the individual scheme pages, listed here.
The standard I've audited against is not on the list. What should I do?
Please send us a copy of the standard together with your audit logs. We will then review the documents and draw comparisons with our schemes. If we accept it, we will add the standard to the list.
How can I pay my fees?
If you are joining us then you can pay your fees online, by phone or bank transfer. If you are an existing member/registrant, then you have the additional option to pay by cheque. Please see ways to pay.
Can I make a payment in a foreign currency?
No – we only accept payments in pounds sterling (GBP). All cheques in foreign currencies will be returned to the sender or destroyed in confidential bins on site. Bank transfers arranged outside the UK must cover the fee and any bank charges (for both banks) on the total amount.
Can I pay my annual fee in advance along with the application fee?
No, you cannot make a payment in advance for an annual fee. Please wait for the invoice before paying your annual fee.
Does one application fee cover the cost of multiple schemes?
No. An application fee is applied to each scheme you are applying for.
How do I login online to pay my IRCA fees?
If you’re a new applicant, you will receive an acknowledgement email from us containing a certification number. You can use the certification number to log into the members area of the CQI and IRCA website, and create your user profile, which you can then use to log in and pay fees.
I am arranging a bank transfer to pay my fees, what reference should I use?
Please include your certification number, your name and the reason for the payment, ie 6000000, Mr John Smith, QMS Annual Fee.
I have paid my application fee by bank transfer, how can I notify IRCA?
If you’ve paid by bank transfer before submitting your application, or before receiving an acknowledgement email from us, then please email evidence of the transfer (eg a receipt, confirmation email or screenshot) to email@example.com .
Can I send you my Direct Debit mandate by email?
Unfortunately we can only accept original mandates by post, to The Chartered Quality Institute, Third floor, 90 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1EU.
I have paid my fees some time ago but I did not receive an invoice, can I still request one?
Invoices are only available before a full payment is made, but we can give you a receipt as a confirmation of payment. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need one.
If I haven’t been assigned a certification number yet, how can I pay for my application fee?
You can make a payment by cheque and enclose it with the application form. Otherwise we ask that you wait for the acknowledgement email with your certification number, then pay. For more detail, see Ways to pay.