Certification & Audit

The Ethical Supply Chain Program (ESCP) provides robust, trusted, industry-leading social compliance audits and supplier (factory) certification.

About our certification

Ethical Supply Chain Program (ESCP) Certification focuses on social compliance issues pertaining to the manufacturing industry. Originally designed for the needs of the global toy industry, it is now deployed in many sectors with all programs applicable to any industry. Our ethical Audit Checklist is regularly reviewed to respond to the evolving needs of the factories, brands and retailers, reflect changes in regulation and to integrate best practices.

The program covers all types of goods & products from any sector & industry. Our Certification is the leading industry-wide standard trusted by international buyers; for example in the toy sector, over two-thirds of the world’s toys are produced in Ethical Supply Chain Program Certified factories.

ESCP certification plays a major role in reducing audit duplication by providing a single ethical & responsible sourcing standard that is requested and accepted by brands and retailers worldwide.

Becoming ESCP Certified also helps drive improvements in manufacturing businesses and increases competitiveness by reducing worker turnover, increasing worker satisfaction and creating a better more productive workplace.

Starting from May 2022, our Certification can be combined with an Environmental Assessment (EA), visit here for more information.

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Certification process

ESCP Certification was originally designed to meet the needs of the global toy industry, it is now adopted by various sectors & industries.

Getting certified is a simple five-step process.

Go to Getting certified

Our approach to factory (supplier) monitoring

All factories in the ESCP Certification Program are subject to at least one audit and one visit per year by either ESCP’s Program Monitoring team or one of our accredited third-party auditing firms. Our certification is mainly based on unannounced factory social audits, see the "Types of Audits and Visits" section below to learn more about each type of ESCP audit & visit.

Each ESCP audit report is reviewed by our Program Monitoring and Development team who determine the final result. The final result is based on an examination of non-compliances identified by auditors and takes into account any comments or responses reflected by the factory management in the Corrective Action Plan.

Accredited Audit Firms:

Accredited Auditors and Progress Visit Specialists:

  • ESCP audits can only be conducted by either accredited auditors from accredited audit firms or authorized ESCP staff members.
  • ESCP Progress Visits (PV) can be conducted by PV Specialists from accredited audit firms, authorized ESCP staff members or other specialist organizations.
  • Click here to learn how to verify auditors and PV specialists from IETP and accredited audit firms.

Types of Audits and Visits

The ESCP certification program includes the following core audits and visits to all factories:

  • Initial Certification Audit (ICA) or Initial Annual Audit (IAA)
    ICA is for first-time applicants and IAA is for reapplying applicants.

    From 1st April 2022, factories can select their preference of announced/ unannounced ICA & IAA in their application form. Although a factory may select an announced audit, ESCP reserves the final decision on which audit type is conducted. The final decision will be made considering a number of different factors, including but not limited to, a factory’s previous performance in audit transparency.

    The announced ICA/IAA will be scheduled, and the unannounced ICA/IAA will be conducted within 1 month upon the completion of the application process.
  • Progress Visit (PV)
    An announced factory visit for all certified factories to review and discuss progress in maintaining ESCP social compliance standards, conducted within 2-4 months of the date of certification, this is an announced visit that factories can plan for in advance.
  • Onsite Engagement Vist (OE)
    All factories in the Remediation program will receive an announced visit 1-2 months into the program cycle.
  • Follow Up Audit (FU)
    An unannounced audit, only applicable when critical violations are found during audit.
  • Surveillance Audit (SA)
    Factories in the Probation Program and 12-month Remediation Program are required to undergo unannounced Surveillance Audit(s).
  • Quality Control Audit (QCA)
    This full unannounced audit can be conducted at any factory if deemed necessary by ESCP.
  • Transparency Re-audit (RA)
    This unannounced audit applies when transparency issues are found. It is granted to factories that show transparency during the 20 working days Factory Response Period. 12 months of records are required.
  • Reinstatement Audit (RelA)
    The final unannounced audit conducted for factories in the Remediation Program.
  • Desktop Review (DR)
    This is used to follow up on and monitor the progress of corrective actions for minor compliance violations.

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Audit integrity

Honesty, integrity, and trust lie at the core of the Ethical Supply Chain Program.

All our staff, our appointed third-party auditors, and progress visit specialists, must observe the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction where they are located, and maintain a high standard of professional ethics when conducting business.

We take a zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption.

Our dedicated Integrity Team is responsible for the implementation of our integrity policy within – and across – all ESCP Programs.

Go to Integrity

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Certification valid for 12 months

Factory has no open non-compliances.

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Status valid for 6 months

If a factory has been audited and does not have any Critical Non-Compliances but some Minor and Major Non-Compliances (no more than 30% in any section of the checklist), then they are eligible for the status of Progressing. These factories must respond and correct these findings appropriately and in a timely manner. For example, the factory must submit a Corrective Action Plan and start remediation within 3 months of the audit to be eligible for Progressing.

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Status valid for 10 months

Once a factory has been audited they will be designated Assessed, according to the severity of the violations, a follow-up audit might be assigned.

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Certification valid for 9 or 12 months depending on the severity of violation(s)

Remediation certification is a valid type of certification. Factories in Remediation are committed to remediating non-compliances. Launched on 1st Sept 2020, the Remediation program is an enhancement of the Probation program, providing factories with both On-site Audit(s) and On-site Engagement. Remediation certification is only available for factories who have previously held ESCP certification.

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Certification valid for 12 months

Probation status is a valid type of certification, factories in Probation are committed to remediating Record Inconsistency which they have shown transparency in admitting. Probation certification is only available for factories who have previously held ESCP certification.

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If a zero tolerance violation is found at any time, and the factory is not showing transparency or is unwilling to remediate, it will be terminated.

This means factory's certification will be revoked and they will be assigned the status of Terminated for at least 6 months, according to the severity of the violation, before the factory can reapply for certification.

Resources for factories

Factory Welcome Pack

Learn what to expect on the day of an Audit and an explanation of IETP Certification Statuses, Critical Violations & Zero Tolerance issues.

Click here

ESCP Audit Checklist

Everything a factory needs to comply with to become ESCP certified

Click here

Fee schedule & Apply Online

Steps to & costs of getting certified

Click here