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IATF 16949 Certification – IATF Certification Rules 6

Certification according to IATF 16949

Success in the international automotive industry relies on high standards, technical innovation and premium quality throughout the entire supply chain. A management system certified according to IATF 16949 can help you access customers in new markets. Regarded as the world's leading quality standard in the automotive industry, IATF 16949 combines car manufacturer and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirements into one certification.

Our experts will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with further information on IATF 16949 certification.

Watch our IATF Rules 6 Webinar

Watch our IATF Rules 6 Webinar

Our expert, who has been an IATF Lead Auditor for over 20 years, provides an overview of the new certification requirements and what it takes to meet them.

IATF 16949:2016

The International Automotive Task Force (IATF) has introduced the 6th Edition of its Certification Rules, which are essential for both certification bodies as well as (certified) organizations to be compliant with the IATF 16949:2016 standard. This latest edition is a comprehensive guide that not only strengthens and clarifies the existing requirements but also enhances the overall IATF 16949 certification scheme. The 6th Edition serves to refine the requirements for maintaining IATF recognition, ensuring a robust automotive quality management system that aims to minimize defects and waste in the automotive supply chain industry. It’s a mandatory requirement for both certification bodies and certified organizations to stay informed and prepared for the evolving landscape of quality standards in the automotive sector.

Key improvements include:

  • The integration of sanctioned interpretations and frequently asked questions from the previous 5th Edition
  • modifications to the eligibility criteria for certification
  • detailed processes for audit planning and contract requirements between certification bodies and their clients.

IATF 16949 certification - crucial to know:

For organizations holding IATF 16949 certification, it’s important to be aware of these updates as they will impact future audits. The 6th Edition, which will take effect on January 1, 2025, supersedes the 5th Edition and all associated SIs and FAQs, rendering them obsolete from that date forward.

Key Changes of IATF Rules 6

Important changes to IATF Rules were made to improve certification eligibility as well as audit processes aiming to boost overall efficiency. Please note that this summary doesn’t capture all the changes within IATF Rules 6, and it’s not a substitute for the original document, however, it will help you to understand some key points better. We highly encourage all associated organizations to purchase the latest version of these Rules and review them thoroughly before making any decisions as our interpretation at TÜV Rheinland may not be entirely accurate.

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Eligibility Criteria for Certification - Clause 1.0

  • Vehicles eligible for certification are those classified as “Homologated Vehicles,” which are designed for use on public roads.
  • The category of “Automotive Products” includes now all “Replacement Parts and Materials.”
  • One single Certification Body (CB) is responsible for conducting audits at a manufacturing site or any associated standalone remote location.
  • The CB tasked with auditing a Standalone Remote Location must also audit at least one manufacturing site that this Remote Location supports.

Certification Structure: Extended Manufacturing Site (EMS) Guidelines - Clause 1.1

  • EMS and the main site shall fall under the same legal entity and share one Quality Management System (QMS).
  • The EMS shall be located no more than 10 miles (16 km) or a 60-minute drive from the main site.
  • An EMS can only get support from the main site and/or provides support only to the main site. This is exclusively bi-directional.
  • There must be a common management for both the main site and the EMS.

Handling Conflicts of Interest - Clause 2.5.2

  • The Certification Body (CB) is prohibited from offering consulting services related to Quality Management Systems (QMS) to any clients they have certified.
  • This limitation specifically pertains to QMS-related services, including but not limited to supplier audits and customized Internal Auditor training courses, pre-audits etc.

Audit Cycle Overview – Clause 5.1.1 for Manufacturing Sites

  • Manufacturing sites will have two surveillance audits within each 3-year audit cycle.
  • Surveillance audits shall occur within a window of -3/+3 months from the due date, which is based on the last day of the initial, transfer, or recertification audit.
  • Failure to conduct a surveillance audit within the specified timeframe will result in the withdrawal of the certificate within 7 days.
  • The recertification audit timing remains unchanged, with a window of -3/+0 months from the due date. Adequate planning is essential to ensure non-conformities are addressed and the report is approved before the existing certificate expires.

Determination of Audit Days – Clause 5.2

  • In teams with multiple auditors, each auditor must conduct at least one full audit day (8 hrs).
  • Pre-audits have been eliminated.
  • When there are changes to the certification scope —such as locations, functions, processes, and products— additional audit time is required to assess the impact of these changes.
  • Additional audit time has to be allocated according to Table 5.2 q) in order to review actions taken in response to poor performance with IATF OEM Customers.
  • If additional audit time cannot be added to the regular audit, a Special Audit shall be scheduled within 60 days following the regular audit.
  • Total audit duration is calculated by adding the “Additional Audit Time “ to the standard Audit Days (as per Table 5.2).
  • “Additional Audit Time” includes:
    • Time for audit planning.
    • Time to address performance issues with IATF OEM Customers.
    • Time to verify minor non-conformities from the previous audit (0.5 to 1 hour per minor NC).
    • Time to verify major non-conformities during a Special Audit (1 to 3 hours per major NC).
    • 20% time for translation, if needed.
    • Time to audit significant changes such as scope adjustments, relocations, etc.
  • One Audit Day is equivalent to 8 hours, which includes time allocated for shift audits.
  • The maximum Audit Duration shall not exceed 10 hours per calendar day.
  • Both Audit Days and Additional Audit Time must be recorded in the IATF Database

Determining the Audit Duration - Clause 5.4

  • When calculating the minimum required audit days as per Table 5.2:
    • For a Corporate Audit Scheme we may apply a reduction of 15 %
    • The total reduction from all combined factors shall not exceed 30%.

Audit Program Requirements for Remote Locations - Clause 5.5.1

  • Post Initial/Transfer Audit, any Standalone Remote Location will only have further Surveillance Audits, there will be no 3-year audit cycle and therefore also no Recertification Audit.
  • For design-related functions, an annual audit is required within a -3/+3-month interval from the due date.
  • For all other functions, an audit must be conducted at least once every 24 months, also within a -3/+3-month interval from the due date.
  • If a surveillance audit is not performed within the specified timeframe, an Initial Audit shall be conducted.

IATF Observers - Clause 5.6.2

  • IATF Observers (not witness auditors) are permitted to observe the entire audit.
  • An exception is made for any segments of the audit that involve confidential client data.

Audit Planning Requiements – Clause 5.7

  • Allocate a minimum 0.5 day for the audit planning process. This time also needs to be entered into the IATF DB.
  • Confirm the dates for Surveillance, Recertification, or Transfer Audits at least 90 days prior to the audit. If this isn’t possible, the audit should be postponed which may then result in the loss of the certificate.

Client Audit Planning Information - Clause 5.7.1

  • Clients are required to submit all necessary audit planning information no later than 30 days prior to the scheduled audit.
  • If the information is not provided on-time, the Certification Body (CB) shall consider rescheduling the audit to ensure the audit plan can be delivered to the client at least 14 days before the audit.
  • Clients must disclose all details of any Quality Management System (QMS) related consulting services received since the last audit.
  • In cases where the Management Review is not available for audit planning due to confidentiality issues, an additional min. 2 hours shall be allocated for on-site Information Verification prior to the Opening Meeting. This time must be entered as Audit Planning Time in the IATF database.

Systemic Problem Solving – Clause

  • A Major Non-Conformity (NC) shall be issued if effective actions are not taken in a timely manner to resolve performance issues reported by customers.

Major Non-Conformities – Clause 5.11.1

  • Clients are required to submit initial responses to major NCs, which shall include immediate corrections, identification of root causes, and a corrective action plan within 15 calendar days.
  • Subsequent responses that detail the implemented corrective actions and verification of their effectiveness must be provided within 60 calendar days.

Minor Non-Conformities – Clause 5.11.2

  • Clients are expected to deliver initial responses to minor NCs within 60 calendar days. These must cover containment actions, corrections, and corrective actions, along with the verification of their effectiveness.

Certification Body (CB) Responsibilities – Clause 5.11.3

  • If responses to Non-Conformities (NCs) are not received within the specified timeframes, as mentioned above, the CB shall withdraw the certificate.

Relocation Requirements – Clause 5.15

  • If a certified site moves to a new location that is not certified, an Initial Audit is required.
  • For the relocation of a standalone Remote Location, either a Special Audit is necessary or additional time shall be added to the Regular Audit.

Remote Audit Requirements – Clause 7.3

  • During an on-site audit, remote audits are permissible for auditing employees who normally work remotely.
  • A Remote Audit may be conducted for a Remote Location (RL) that does not handle products or materials (as detailed in Annex 2), but this is limited to only one of the two consecutive surveillance audits.
  • Remote Audits must not be used in situations where an on-site audit is mandated, as specified in Clauses 5.11 or 8.0.

Suspension Decision - Clause 8.3

  • In the event of a suspension resulting from a performance complaint, the client is required to submit a response through the IATF CMS within 20 days of receiving the suspension notification.

Benefits of Rules 6

  • Prioritizing Safety and Reliability: In the automotive industry, quality management plays a critical role. Safety and reliability are top priorities for customers and the public. Commitment to strict quality standards ensures that vehicles meet the highest safety standards.
  • Continuous Improvement: Quality management processes are designed for continuous improvement. By consistently improving products and services, defects are minimized, waste is reduced, and the overall quality remains at its best.
  • Waste Reduction: Efficiency matters. That’s why the focus is on reducing waste throughout the automotive supply chain. It’s good for the environment, and it ultimately benefits customers.
  • Legal Compliance: Play by the rules. A quality management system ensures to meet all legal requirements. Customers can rest assured that all practices are above board.
  • Strong Partnerships: Collaboration is key. Working closely with suppliers and partners across the automotive supply chain. Regular supplier audits keep everyone aligned, ensuring that the same high-quality standards apply to all products and services.
  • Customer Satisfaction: An effective quality management system directly impacts customer satisfaction. By delivering reliable vehicles, trust and loyalty is built among customers.
  • Boosting Productivity and Efficiency: Quality management isn’t just about safety; it also drives productivity and efficiency. Streamlined processes lead to better outcomes and a more competitive edge.

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IATF Certification Process

1. IATF Audit
Assessment of client readiness (stage 1) by the audit team and demonstration of practical application of the QMS (stage 2), We will review your management system documentation according to IATF 16949 and audit its practical application and effectiveness.

2. Issuing the Certificate
An IATF Certification demonstrates conformity and functional capability. Certificates are listed in the Certipedia online certificate database.

3. Surveillance Audits
Annual audit to review process optimization and standards compliance with the standard.

4. Re-Certification
Certificates are renewed within a period of three years, and the continual improvement process is documented accordingly.

5. Letter of Conformance LoC (optional)
A new production site that does not yet have internal or external performance data for a period of twelve months. An existing production site that has been identified as being on the bid list of a customer requiring IATF 16949 certification.

6. Transfer Audit
A transfer audit is conducted when an IATF 16949 certified client decides to change certification bodies.

IATF 19649 certification costs >

The cost of IATF 16949 certification is determined by various factors. Factors such as the size of your organization, the scope of your quality management system, and the presence of an existing certified management system for combined certification can influence the duration and cost of the audit. Additionally, IATF 16949 can serve as a solid foundation for meaningful combined certifications, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
Due to these variables, the cost of IATF 16949 certification cannot be provided as a fixed amount. We are pleased to offer you a customized quote based on the specific needs of your organization.

Plan your re-certification in advance >

Have you been IATF certified for more than two years? Then start planning your re-certification now for a smooth transition. IATF 16949 certification is valid for three years, requiring re-certification thereafter. To ensure compliance with re-certification requirements, please take note of the following deadline: Schedule the re-certification audit so that it occurs no more than three years after the previous audit. The permissible window is -3 months to +0 days. The new IATF certification must be issued before the current certificate expires.

IATF 16949 internal audit schedule example >

What does this mean in practice? Here is an example: 09/15/2021: Last audit date of the previous re-audit or certification audit.

  • 12/22/2024: The IATF 16949 certificate is valid until this date.
  • 09/15/2024: The re-certification audit must be completed by this date. However, you can carry out the audit up to 3 months earlier.
  • 12/22/2024: The new certificate must be issued no later than 12/22/2024 with a new validity period of 3 years.

Check list download: How to prepare for an IATF audit?

Download here an audit check list

Check List for download >

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