Selecting a Registrar
When you choose a Registrar you are starting a relationship that will last at least 3 years, most likely longer. You will want to make a careful decision to lay the groundwork for a smooth and lasting relationship.
Generally, when you sign a contract with a Registrar, it will include the Registration Audit, and Surveillance Audits. The Registration Audit is the initial audit that will be done to see if you will achieve registration. After you have your registration, the Registrar will come back every 6 months or year to see if you are maintaining your system and continuing to meet the requirements of ISO 9001. Registrars vary in their approach, so you will want to find out details from each Registrar you are interested in.
Your certificate will be valid for 3 years. After that period your registrar will be required to do another Registration Audit to renew your certification. The contract you set up with your Registrar will be for the three year period. You would renew your contract after three years to start the cycle again.
Registration Audit: An audit of your QMS system to see if you meet the requirements of ISO 9001 and will achieve registration.
Surveillance Audit: A follow up audit of a portion of your QMS to see if the QMS is being followed and maintained. These are done every 6 months or year.
The costs for the audits and registration will be dependant on the size of your company, the number of locations, the accreditations that you need, and the distance between you and your Registrar.
The costs are typically dependant on the number of audit days required for the registration audit and the surveillance audits, the travel costs for the auditors, and the administration fees and accreditation fees for the registration.
Choosing a Registrar
The most important factor in choosing a Registrar is how well they can work with you. This includes how well they know your industry, how much experience they have with similar companies, and how well they communicate with you and your employees.
Interview 3 or more Registrars to get a good idea of the options available and differences between Registrars. Look locally if you have good choices, it will save on costs, but if you do not find a good fit look farther. The benefits of your relationship with your Registrar will pay off. Remember that these are experienced professionals that spend day after day evaluating how companies do business. The feedback you get from them is one of the best benchmarking tools available.