Here's a rough timeline for implementing a new ISO 9001 compliant quality system, getting certified and the ongoing maintenance through to re-certification.
From the start of the project to the initial certification audit typically takes 6 months. The time taken depends on the resources committed to the project and the size and complexity of the organisation, and it can be as fast as 4 months.
“Instant Certification” is not possible due the requirement for records that demonstrate use of the quality system.
After the initial certification, the external auditor will usually revisit after 6 months for a surveillance audit. Thereafter, external audits are conducted at least every 12 months, and sometimes every 6 months – depending on the business. After 3 years, a major re-certification audit takes place to renew the ISO 9001 certificate.
An internal audit is often scheduled 2-3 months prior to each external audit. This gives you a chance to correct any problems prior to the external audit.
For more details on implementing an ISO 9001 compliant management system, have a look at our zero to 9001 guide.
It includes details on what to expect during your external audit.