Independent verification and certification are two different approaches to achieving verification against the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS). Both are carried out independently from the CHS Alliance and the organisation being verified.

Currently, the Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative (HQAI) is the only organisation permitted to undertake independent verification and CHS certification audits.

Independent verification and certification are both voluntary initiatives open to members and non-members of the CHS Alliance. Providing a summary of an independent verification report, or becoming certified against the CHS are two ways of fulfilling CHS Alliance membership requirements.

Independent verification

CHS Independent Verification provides organisations with an external, independent assessment of capacity and improvement against the CHS.

Undertaken by an independent third party, the process involves document reviews, interviews with key staff, partners and communities and people affected by crisis, as well as direct observation at selected project sites.

The aim of independent verification is to generate comprehensive analysis of how well an organisation is applying the CHS to its work. Organisations can then use their results to develop an improvement work plan and to evidence their progress.


Certification is another approach in the CHS verification scheme. Certification offers organisations a forensic diagnostic of the degree to which they have applied the CHS.

The certification process provides organisations with an independent, external assessment, leading to issuing a certification of compliance against the CHS. It is essentially a test, resulting in certification either being granted, or denied.

Certification process

Initial audit undertaken by HQAI-approved auditors

Production of report and public summary

Certification decision made (valid for three years, provided corrective action requests are satisfied in a timely manner); certificate issued

One year after the certification decision: a first HQAI audit (called maintenance audit) focuses on any previous non-conformities and the organisation’s progress towards resolution

Two years after the certification decision: a second HQAI maintenance audit focuses on any previous non-conformities and the organisation’s progress towards resolution

Three years after the certification decision: if renewal is successful, a new certificate is issued


For both independent verification and certification, the costs are determined by the third-party undertaking this verification approach. Please contact the Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative (HQAI) for more information.

A Facilitation Fund has been established to support organisations that want to access HQAI’s services, and individuals in covering their auditor training costs. Applications are made to an independent committee, which grants subsidies that can cover up to 90% of the cost of an audit or training.

More support

Frequently asked questions 

Have a further question about independent verification or certification? More answers are provided in our CHS verification Frequently Asked Questions.

Get in touch 

Contact our Verification Manager, Jordi Capdevila, to start your verification journey.