Costs of ISO Certification

What are the costs of ISO certification?

The costs of an ISO 9001 certification cannot be determined as a lump sum. The reason for this is that the certification costs depend on various factors. The cost factor is an important point for many companies, especially in today’s competitive environment. Since companies often implement not only a quality management system, but also other management systems and have them certified, certification costs take a not insignificant cost position. In order to secure a sustainable competitive advantage, companies endeavor to fundamentally reduce the individual cost items. Accordingly, attempts are made to influence and reduce the costs of certification of management systems as much as possible.


Composition of the costs of an ISO 9001 certification

Certification costs are influenced by internal and external cost items:

  • Internal ISO 9001 certification costs

Internal certification costs are understood to mean the effort required to set up the QM system. The internal ISO 9001 certification costs depend on which components of the QM system were already to be found in the company before it was introduced.

  • External certification costs in quality management

External certification costs include financial expenses that are extra for certification. Accordingly, external certification costs are those that have to be raised for the certification body. The external certification costs are mainly influenced by the costs of traveling to and from the certification auditor and the general certification effort.


How is the cost of certification calculated?

In order to calculate the effort involved in quality management certification, the following steps must be observed:

  • Calculation of effort depending on the number of employees

The number of employees, including seasonal and temporary workers, is a factor that influences the certification effort. The International Accreditation Forum – IAF provides specifications for calculating the certification effort depending on the number of employees. It can be seen from these specifications that an increase in the certification effort and thus also the costs go hand in hand with the size of the company and a high number of employees. In the case of smaller companies with a smaller number of employees, the certification effort and thus the expected certification costs are reduced.

  • Calculation of the effort depending on specific location factors

The certification effort and, accordingly, the certification costs can be reduced or increased through specific location factors. Depending on the management system, the location factors that can influence the effort can be different. For example:

Increase in effort

  • many, different regulations
  • many complex and unique company processes and procedures

Effort reduction

  • simple, repetitive processes (e.g. assembly line work)
  • Exclusions (e.g. absence from development work)

A further increase in the costs of an ISO 9001 quality management certification is possible if non-conformities with the standard are found in the certification audit and a follow-up audit has to be carried out.


How can the costs of ISO 9001 certification be influenced?

There are several methods companies can access to lower the cost of ISO 9001 certification. For example:

  • Lower the auditor’s travel expenses

By hiring an auditor from the nearby region, the travel costs for arrival and departure and possible hotel and accommodation costs can be kept low and the costs of quality management certification according to ISO 9001 can be reduced. This option is also open to supra-regional companies, as the certification auditor often does not come directly from the certification organization’s headquarters, but has been commissioned by them as a freelance auditor. In this case, it is also advisable to use an auditor from the region.


  • Implementation of matrix audits

International companies with several production facilities or locations have the option of reducing certification costs through matrix audits. The quality management systems or other management systems at various locations or branches are only examined on a random basis. This results in less certification effort and consequently lower certification costs.


  • Conducting group audits

This method is also important for SMEs. When there is a link between different organizations, SMEs can conduct group audits. Here are the ISO 9001 cost certification for the individual companies lower, the greater the number of the combined group the audit company.


  • Certify different management systems together

For example, if a QM system according to ISO 9001 and an occupational health and safety management system according to ISO 45001 are certified together, the certifications are reduced. In the case of joint certification of different management systems, the cost position of the certification auditor is only incurred once, since, for example, his travel expenses are only incurred once.