Certificate of Conformance and Certificate of Compliance

Including Certificate of Conformity

Example 1: Private Industry Certificate of Conformance . . .

Example 2: Federal Government Certificate of Conformance . . .

Example 3: GSQA Certificate of Conformance . . .


The flow of documentation attesting to the quality of products and services provided by supplier networks represents much more than bothersome paperwork. Far from being bureaucratic paper-pushing,the Certificates go to the heart of the matter in the form of compliance management software.

The effective use of Certificate of Conformance or Certificate of Compliance addresses not only market concerns (customer satisfaction) but also function for managing governance, risk and compliance. They are the foundation for relating to the regulatory environment at every level all the way up to ensuring the ability of a company to fulfill the technical requirements of the Federal Drug Administration, USDA or the FAA.

Turning toward the market, the certificates provide a common, understandable language underlying quality assurance in the domain of business-to-business relations, which quickly translates into customer satisfaction, sales and profits. Our customers understand that they are, at any given moment, only as good as the promises they make about what they are delivering. Their use of GSQA® demonstrates their commitment to meeting or exceeding standards they have set for themselves and their customers, and to being good citizens by documenting their full compliance with the laws and regulations of various jurisdictions. Along with GSQA’s Certification module the COCs and COAs provide the basis for a regulatory compliance software solution. The 21 CFR Part 11 electronic signature extends GSQA to user validation in an FDA compliance software model.

We share that commitment in that we provide a comprehensive and reliable system to manage the flow of documentation. More importantly, since nothing in life is absolutely perfect, the tools we provide go beyond document management, and greatly increase the speed and accuracy with which businesses can pinpoint breakdowns in the daunting environment of multi-tiered supply networks. Using our approach, breakdowns can be stopped before they do physical damage or damage to hard-won reputations.

Certificate of Compliance

The basic definition of a Certificate of Conformance, Certificate of Compliance, or Certificate of Conformity is straightforward, at least in American commerce: it is a document certified by a competent authority committing, or promising, that the supplied good or service it covers meets the agreed-upon or required specifications.

In reality, there is even more at stake. The purpose of Certificates of Conformance (or Compliance) is to attach the promises a business makes about what it is delivering to specific points in the production process, as the goods and services move through the phases that bring them to the end-user. Certificates of Conformity is a way of sharing both the rights (in the form of profits) and the responsibilities (in the form of compliance with agreed standards) in a fair and just way across the entire multi-tiered supply chain.  They are also a tool to support operations in that they help pinpoint breakdowns, patterns of breakdowns, and allow a business to deal with these issues at the point where they happen, rather than tainting an entire multi-tiered supply chain.  

Some of the promises made by producers are complex, because they are about more than conformance to physical characteristics.  This is what distinguishes Certificates of Conformance and/or Compliance (CoC) from Certificates of Analysis (CoA).

In contrast to Certificates of Analysis which show test results performed on physical materials used in agricultural or industrial goods, Certificates of Conformance promise that the process itself was done in compliance with certain laws or regulations (safety, environmental, etc.). They may also reflect a promise that something did not happen during a given process.  In the case of compliance with the recently enacted California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 which went into effect on January 1, 2012, certain retailers and manufactures will have to attest to (or certify) something positive about their initiatives to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in their direct supply chains, as well as something negative in the form of declaring that no child or forced labor was used.

Because so many jurisdictions may be involved in a complex, multi-tiered supply network, compliance may seem like an overwhelming and confusing process.  If the basic design and purposes of the Certificates of Compliance are kept front and center, they don’t need to be seen as an impossible bureaucratic thicket of red tape.  Despite differences in the forms, the contents of the required forms are fairly consistent, although they range from being very specific to general as seen in the examples below.

Certificate of Conformance

Example 1: Private Industry Certificate of Conformance

Certificate of Conformance

The Certificate of Conformance above is straightforward, specific, and includes both positive and negative assurances: that the specific measurements and material conform, and that there was no mercury contamination in the process.

Example 2: Federal Government Certificate of Conformance

Certificate of Conformance

The Certificate of Conformance above is a mix of commitments the producer is making, that include descriptions of the material used, and Points 4 and 5 merely ask for a promise that the proof of compliance is available if it is needed at a future date and that a “reasonable Quality System” is in place. 

While each jurisdiction or country may have its own terminology and form design, the basic messages are consistent.

Using GSQA® to organize, generate and track Certificates of Compliance and/or Conformance and Certificates of Analysis adds power and certainty to this critical process. GSQA® speeds the creation, transfer and acceptance of CoC/CoA. With the unique GSQA® Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN) a CoC/CoA informs as to its logistics as well as verifies the contents of the shipment. Analysis of the accumulated knowledgebase provides the quality professional with data-driven insight not attainable with manual approaches. At the same time, implementing GSQA streamlines the process in a way that unburdens staff for deployment in other more valuable assignments.

Example 3: GSQA Certificate of Conformance

Acme Certificate of Conformance

See also Electronic Certificate of Analysis
Material Variability Management