How to Get Certified

Achieving SQF Certification can seem like a daunting task. However, SQFI has provided resources to help at every step of the way. With step-by-step certification instructions, training, customer service team, and more, SQFI has made food safety and quality certification easier to acquire.


Certification Steps

Step 1: Register on the SQFI Assessment Database

To register for an SQF audit in the SQF Assessment Database, click here

Registration Fees:

Classification Description of Classification Fee USD
Fundamentals Suppliers auditing under the SQF Fundamentals Code $200
A Primary Producers (farms, ranches, orchards, etc. or FSC 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) $200
B Suppliers with a gross revenue < $5 million USD $350
C Suppliers with a gross revenue > 5 million USD < 25 million USD $500
D Suppliers with a gross revenue > 25 million USD < 50 million USD $650
E Suppliers with a gross revenue > 50 million USD $750
M Multi-site Organization
    Central-site $1250
    Each Sub-site $50
Food Service $500
Retail $250
SQF Quality Audit (non SQF food safety site) Edition 9 $250

Effective as of April 1, 2021

Step 2: Designate an SQF Practitioner

The SQF Practitioner must satisfy the below requirements as outlined in section of the SQF Code:

  • Be employed by the site as a company employee on a full-time basis
  • Have completed a HACCP-based training course
  • Be competent to implement and maintain Good Agricultural/Aquacultural/Manufacturing Practices
  • Have an understanding of the SQF Code and the requirements to implement and maintain SQF System relevant to the site’s scope of certification.
Step 3: Determine the Scope of Certification

Please choose either:

Fundamentals (Formerly Level 1)
Food Safety (Formerly Level 2)
Food Safety and Quality (Formerly Level 3)

Step 4: Document Your SQF System

To achieve SQF food safety certification, you need to document and implement the system elements and the relevant requirements of the SQF Food Safety Code.

First, you need to prepare the policies, procedures, work instructions, and specifications that meet the system elements and modules of the SQF Food Safety Code that you are working with. In other words, “Say what you do.”

Step 5: Implement Your SQF System

Once you are satisfied that the policies, procedures, work instructions, and specifications are in place to meet the SQF requirements, you need to make sure that all documents are being followed and records are being kept demonstrating compliance to the relevant modules of the SQF Food Safety Code that you are working with.

In other words, “Do what you say.” SQFI recommends that a minimum of ninety (90) days of records is available before a site audit is conducted.

Step 6: Pre-assessment Audit (optional)

Either an SQF auditor or your SQF practitioner can identify the “gaps” between your program and the desired type of SQF certification.

Step 7: Select a Certification Body

Select the proposal from the Certification Body that best suits your facility and its needs, then schedule an audit with this Certification Body.

Step 8: The Initial Certification Audit

Initial Certification Audits consists of both a Document Review (Desk Audit) and a Facility Assessment (Facility Audit).

Step 9: Auditing Reporting and Closeout

The SQF food safety auditor(s) review your documentation and the effective implementation of your documented policies, procedures, and specifications. The auditor(s) collect evidence of compliance or non-compliance against all mandatory and applicable elements of the SQF Code by means of review of documentation and records, interviews with key staff, and observation of growing, harvesting, and packaging activities.

The on-site activities include the entire site, including representative fields/plots of production/harvesting, the inside and outside of storage and operational buildings, regardless of the scope of certification and agreed exemptions.

When remote audit activities are used, SQFI expects that the auditor spends 80% of on-site audit time making observations and conducting interviews.

Step 10: Granting Certification

The certification body makes the certification decision based on the evidence of compliance and non-compliance recommended by the SQF food safety auditor during the SQF audit. Although SQFI provides guidance on certification, the certification body is responsible for deciding if certification is justified and granted, based on objective evidence provided by the SQF food safety auditors.

The SQF Assessment Database


Training Corner

Need help learning about the SQF Program and how to get started, check out our educational tools and training classes.