Types of evidence
Forest certification schemes
When a forest has been found to comply with the requirements of a scheme, it is issues with a Forest Management or 'FM' certificate. However, unless you are purchasing directly from a forest source, it is unlikely you will see one of these.
Normally, when purchasing from a certified supplier, they will provide you with a copy of their Chain of Custody certificate or 'COC' certificate. In some cases, they may only provide you with their COC number.
COC numbers follow different formats, depending on the scheme. FSC certificates follow the format XX - COC - XXXX (where the first two letters are the name of the certifying body and the last four are the unique identifying code for that certificate). PEFC formats may vary (beacuse it is an umbrella scheme), but generally follows the format XX[X]-PEFC-XXXX[...], where the first few letters are the name of the certifiying body, and the last four or more are the unique identifying code for that certificate.
Certificate numbers appear on the certificate and may also appear on product labels and packaging as well as on promotional material.
Third party certificates
Sometimes suppliers provide certificates which have not been issued to their organisation, but rather a third party supplier that they use. Though the certificate itself is considered Category A evidence, additional information must be provided about the supply chain including the supplier's organisation. Please refer to the section on broken chain of custody for further information.
While labels provide a useful visual confirmation that the products are certified, they should not be used as stand-alone evidence. If you are purchasing directly from a COC holder, you should refer in the first instance to the certificate (or certificate number). Labels can be a useful indicator of whether the product contains >70% certified raw material, though you should clarify your requirements at the time of order, rather than waiting for the labelled product to arrive.
If you are not purchasing from a COC holder, additional Category B evidence should be required. Please refer to the section on broken chain of custody for additional information.
Please note that not all certified products come with a label. You should not rely on presence/absence of a label to confirm you have received certified products. Please refer to the section on checking evidence for information on the appropriate method.
There are samples of labels from the certification schemes that you can refer to elsewhere on our website.