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Are there many fake ISO 9001 certifications in China?

by Renaud Anjoran

I saw several people mentioning fake certificates recently in the context of Chinese manufacturing. While I know there are many fake product certificates, I don’t think there are many fake ISO 9001, ISO 14001, or ISO/TS16949 certificates.

My point of view is simple. There are many registrars, and many “consultants” that “guarantee a pass” and that know which registrars are very lax. It means factories simply pay and get the certification. It is not much more difficult than faking it.

The advantage of a “real but undeserved” certificate is that a real registrar’s name can be shown. And potential customers can even call the registrar and ask if that company is certified.

Does it mean that you can visit a factory and then call the registrar to check the certificates’ validity? It is not that simple for two reasons:

  • The official company name is in Chinese. And I guess many local registrars won’t have an English speaker respond to your inquiry.
  • In China a factory boss often has several companies, and tracking who is who is complicated. The business environment here is opaque.

Rather than checking if a certificate is genuine, I would encourage buyers to check if it is deserved. I listed some points that can easily be checked here. And many companies, including mine, make a living of checking just that. It is not expensive.

Do you agree?


Renaud Anjoran has been managing his quality assurance agency (Sofeast Ltd) since 2006. In addition, a passion for improving the way people work has pushed him to launch a consultancy to improve factories and a web application to manage the purchasing process. He writes advice for importers on qualityinspection.org.

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