ISO 14001 Environmental Certification | NQA

ISO 14001 is the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems.

Helps you with

Environmental Policy, Impact Reduction, Pollution Prevention, Legal Compliance, Culture Change, Corporate Responsibility, Reputation, Resource Management

Note: This information relates to the 2004 version of ISO 14001 which is currently being revised - the new version is expected in mid 2015. Keep up with the expected changes here.

WHAT IS ISO 14001?

ISO 14001:2004 is the international standard for environmental management systems (EMS) and the most widely used EMS in the world, with over 14,000 organisations certified in the UK and over 250,000 certificates issued globally.

ISO 14001 is the principal management system standard which specifies the requirements for the formulation and maintenance of an EMS. This helps to control your environmental aspects, reduce impacts and ensure legal compliance.

ISO 14001 is accompanied by ISO 14004 Environmental Management Systems – General Guidelines on principles,systems and support techniques. The standard covers issues such as the establishment, implementation, maintenance and improvement of an EMS.


It’s right if you and your organisation want to demonstrate your commitment to reducing the environmental impact of your activities and achieve the associated financial and stakeholder benefits. We have certified a wide range of organisations in different sectors including Edinburgh Zoo, Nairn’s Oatcakes, Glenmorangie and Veolia Water.

“Every year the NQA auditor comes to site to check that our processes are functioning properly.The visits themselves are always very helpful, as our auditor will not only check what we are doing,but will always offer proactive suggestions as to how things can be further improved.” Edinburgh Zoo

Benefits >


  • Improved environmental management. Identify potential impacts and implement controls and measures to keep risk as low as possible.
  • Legal compliance. Understand how statutory andregulatory requirements impact your organisation andstay on the right side of the law.
  • Reduced operating costs. Achieving efficiencies in energy and water usage and through waste minimisation means money saved.
  • Improved stakeholder relationships. Make the environment a priority and people will respond positively to your organisation.
  • Proven business credentials. Independent verification against recognised standards speaks volumes andenhances your brand.
  • Ability to win more business. Procurement specifications often require certification as a condition to supply, so gaining the standard opens doors.

"We have always taken our environmental impact seriously, but the process involved in achieving ISO 14001 certification has given us a structure, a rigour and a clear progression plan for ongoing improvement.” Nairn’s Oatcakes

Process >


  • Application for registration is made by completing the ISO 14001 Quote Request Form. This provides information about your organisation so we can accurately define the scope of assessment.
  • Assessment to ISO 14001 is undertaken by NQA - this consists of two mandatory visits that form the Initial Certification Audit (explained below). Please note that you must be able to demonstrate that your quality management system has been fully operative for a minimum of three months and has been subject to a full cycle of internal audits.
  • Certification is issued by NQA and maintained through a programme of annual surveillance audits and a three yearly recertification audit.


Stage 1 

The purpose of this visit is to confirm that your organisation is ready for full assessment. The assessor will:

  • confirm that the environmental management system conforms to the requirements of the standard including the identification of aspects and impacts
  • confirm its implementation status
  • confirm the scope of certification
  • check legislative compliance
  • produce a report that identifies any non-compliance or opportunities for improvement and agree a corrective action plan if required
  • produce an assessment plan and confirm a date for the Stage 2 assessment visit

Stage 2

The purpose of this visit is to confirm that the management system fully conforms to the requirements of ISO 14001 in practice. The assessor will:

  • undertake sample audits of the processes and activities defined in the scope of certification
  • document how the system complies with the standard by using objective evidence
  • report any non-compliances or opportunities for improvement
  • produce a surveillance plan and agree a date for the first annual surveillance visit

If the assessor identifies any major non-conformances, certification cannot be issued until corrective action is taken and verified.

Next steps >


We've helped thousands of clients to improve performance with standards certification – read their success stories here, including:

  • Edinburgh Zoo
  • Nairn's Oatcakes
  • Glenmorangie
  • Oxford Brookes University


We provide a range of IEMA, IRCA and CPD accredited training options to suit your needs and budget. These give you the skills to implement, audit and manage an effective environmental management system.


We can undertake a gap analysis to help you determine the likely workload and timescale for implementing an environmental management system that will achieve ISO 14001 certification. You can use this to plan implementation or brief a consultant.


We don't provide consultancy but we can help you choose a reputable consultant from the NQA Associate Consultant Register.


We'll give you a clear indication of the costs of gaining and maintaining certification. You can complete a quick quote online or complete a full ISO 14001 quotation request form and email it directly to our sales team. 

Talk to us >


We can advise you on how to achieve certification, related training, useful resources and finding a reputable consultant.

Contact our business advisors on 0800 052 2424 or submit the form below: