How to Get Certified
The RWS requires all sites to be certified, beginning with the wool farmers and through to the seller in the final business to business transaction. Usually the last stage to be certified is the garment manufacturer or brand. Retailers (business-to-consumers) are not required to be certified.
Farms are certified to the Animal Welfare and Land Management Modules of the RWS. Subsequent stages of the supply chain are certified to the Content Claim Standard requirements.
Certification Bodies can be licensed for the Farm and/or the Processing Scope of the RWS.
If you wish to be certified to the RWS, you can contact one of the licensed Certification Bodies.
Farms can become certified to the RWS individually or as part of a Farm Group.
Certification process (Individual farm)
- Contact a licensed certification body (CB) to request services.
- Fill out the application form from the CB along with information about your farm (RWS Farm Questions).
- Upon receipt of your completed application, the CB will decide if your farm appears likely to comply with the standard and prepare an offer that includes their fee structure.
- After the offer is accepted, you will be asked to sign a contract with the CB. This contract will be valid for the duration of the Scope Certificate (3 years) and will need to be renewed after that.
- Ensure you are clear about all requirements prior to the audit, so all necessary documents are prepared and in accordance with the standard. Good preparation can reduce certification cost by saving auditing time. The RWS Support documents are available to assist with this preparation.
- The CB will send an auditor to your farm to observe operations on the farm, interview you and workers, and examine records related to the requirements of the standard. The first audit will be an announced audit that will be scheduled in advance.
- The results of the audit will be sent to the CB office; a separate person will review them and make a final certification decision. If non-conformities are noted, you will be given a period of time to correct them, and will either submit proof of the corrections, or pay the cost of an additional inspection by the CB.
- Once the CB has granted certification to the RWS, you will be given a scope certificate that verifies you are able to comply with the standard. This certificate is valid for a period of three years with an audit taking place each calendar year. Audits may be scheduled to take place during times of higher risk (i.e. marking and shearing) at the discretion of the CB.
- CBs may conduct unannounced inspections to verify your on-going compliance with the standard. These additional inspections will be at the cost of the CB, but you will be responsible for correcting any non-conformity.
- Following a shipment of wool certified to the RWS, contact your CB and request a transaction certificate to provide valid documentation to your customer.
Farm Group certification
A farm may qualify to be certified to the Responsible Wool Standard as part of a group rather than individually. This will save on auditing and certification costs. Farm groups can be co-operatives, associations, or similar organizations. The Farm Group can be self-organized and run by members, or organized by a separate entity such as a trader or broker.
All Farms participating in a Farm Group are subject to the full requirements of the RWS and the Farm Group must develop an Internal Control System (ICS) to ensure compliance to the RWS by all farms within the group.
Supply Chain Companies
Each stage of wool production is required to be certified against the requirements of the Content Claim Standard (CCS), up to the seller in the last business-to-business transaction.
The CCS ensures the accuracy of RWS certified wool content by verifying the presence and amount of certified wool in a final product. Facilities are certified to the standard, and each shipment of goods must be accompanied by a transaction certificate.
Brands and Retailers
In order for products to include a reference to the RWS (for example, a hangtag or sewn-in label), each facility in the supply chain must have been certified, up to the seller in the last business-to-business transaction. If you are a brand that sells product to retailers, then you must be certified to the Content Claim Standard requirements, which tracks the flow of goods and ensure proper identification. If you only sell directly to consumers, then you are not required to be certified.
There are strict guidelines that must be followed to label products with reference to the RWS. All artwork must be approved by a Certification Body before it is applied. Make sure to plan for the time required to gain approval from a Certification Body before printing any on-product labelling.