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Certification procedure

Certification processAppeals ProcedureComplaints procedure


1. Appeals – definition

Travelife considers an appeal a formal, written request by a Member that deals with formal reconsideration of a Travelife certification decision, following receipt of their audit result or any further feedback provided regarding post-audit improvement evidence, made by Travelife.

2. General conditions

All TravelifeMembers having signed up for the Travelife Certified programme have the right to appeal against any certification decision made by Travelife.

Travelife Members can make Appeals within 90 days after any certification decision made by Travelife, following communication of the audit result.

Travelife reserves the right to refuse any appeal which is not submitted within this timescale.

All appeals submitted under the Travelife Appeals Procedure should be sent as follows (marking any letter or email subject line with Appeal):

Travelife General Manager
Minahasastraat 1, 1094 RS Amsterdam, The Netherlands
info@travelife.org.

It will not be possible to make any appeals by telephone, fax or skype.

3. Formal Communication

All communications with the appealing Member will be in writing and delivered to them at the e-mail address associated with the companies sustainability co-ordinator or official who has submitted the appeal. If another party is appealing on behalf of a Travelife Member, communications may be sent to a different e-mail address provided it has been confirmed in writing by the Travelife Member.

Travelife will investigate appeals in a timely manner. Receipt of appeals will be acknowledged within five working days. Travelife will communicate the expected date to get back to the Member, and depending on the nature of the appeal, and the level of investigation needed by Travelife, up to a maximum of 90 days. 

4. The Appeals and Complaints Panel

All appeals will be dealt with by an Appeals and Complain Panel that will be appointed by the Travelife General Manager and consist of a Senior Auditor and two independent experts in sustainability and certification. The Appeals Panel will select amongst itself a Chairperson. For each appeal, the Travelife General Manager shall check that no member of the Panel has been involved in the certification decision that is subject to the appeal. If such is the case, that member will be replaced by another member for that particular appeal. The Travelife General Manager will be Secretary to the Panel. 

5. Appeals and Complaints Panel Evaluation

A meeting of the Appeals and Complaints Panel will be held every two months either in person or via teleconference, unless there are no appeals or complaints to discuss. The appealing Member shall provide full details of the objection and all supporting evidence in writing (documents, testimonies, photographs) to the Appeals Panel at least 5 full working days prior to the meeting of the Appeals Panel.

6. Conduct of the Appeals and Complaints Panel Evaluation

The Chairman of the Panel ensures that all necessary information has been gathered and that the Panel reviews, in confidence:

  • evidence and opinions provided by the appealing member
  • evidence and opinions provided by Travelife
  • representations put by the two parties and after due consideration, initiates further questioning where required. Questions are submitted in writing to the appropriate party and timescales for response provided.

Following review and discussion, the Panel makes a decision on the appeal as soon as possible, but no later than 90 days after receipt of the appeal. When required, the Panel advises Travelife in taking any necessary action to resolve issues arising.The Secretary of the Panel records the proceedings and the decision of the Panel. 

7. Notification of the Decision of the Panel

The Chairperson of the Panel notifies Travelife and the appealing Member by e-mail of the decision made by the Panel within 7 working days from the date of the Panel’s decision. 

8. Redress

In the event of the Panel reaching a decision to revise the original decision made by Travelife, redress is limited to the declaration by Travelife of the revised decision in the same manner as the original decision was declared. There shall be no liability for loss or damage upon the original decision. 

9. Corrective Action

Travelife will consider the findings of the Panel and take any appropriate corrective and preventive action as required to resolve issues arising and especially to ensure consistency and integrity of the Standard. 

10. Records

Records of any Appeal will be retained by Travelife for a minimum of three years. The details are captured on the Appeals Record which contains a summary of each appeal received, how it is reviewed by the Panel and actions taken to resolve them. 

11. Confidentiality

All Appeals received will be dealt with confidentially and in accordance with the requirements of the EU legislation on data protection and the Travelife Privacy Policy.


1. Complaints – definition

A complaint is a formal written communication of dissatisfaction, other than appeal, by Travelife Members, Travelife Auditors, and other relevant stakeholders, relating to the activities of Travelife certification staff, contractors, auditors, or Members holding a Travelife certificate where a Travelife response is expected. Examples of complaints include the way that the Travelife service is delivered, particularly during the certification process. Alternatively, Travelife may receive complaints from any other stakeholder having an interest in sustainability in tourism or otherwise. 

2. General conditions

All subscribed TravelifeMembers, Auditors, and other relevant stakeholders, have the right to file complaints. Travelife reserves the right to declare any complaint, not submitted by a Travelife Member, Auditor or relevant stakeholders, ineligible if the complaint is considered not relevant, and to notify the complainer of this decision. Travelife will maintain a summary overview of complaints considered ineligible, and will report this to the Appeals and Complaints Panel, taking its feedback into account in order to improve considerations regarding eligibility. Unless declared eligible, all complaints are considered eligible, and subject to the Complaints Policy and Procedure. 

All complaints submitted under the Travelife Complaints Procedure should be sent as follows (marking any letter or email subject line with Complaint):

Travelife General Manager
Minahasastraat 1, 1094 RS Amsterdam, The Netherlands
info@travelife.org

It will not be possible to make any complaints by telephone, fax or skype. 

3. Formal Communication

All communications with the complaining party will be in writing and delivered to them at the e-mail address associated with the party who has submitted the complaint. If another party is complaining on behalf of a Travelife Member, communications may be sent to a different e-mail address provided it has been confirmed in writing by the Travelife Member.

Travelife will investigate complaints in a timely manner. Receipt of complaints will be acknowledged within five working days. Travelife will evaluate if the complaint relates to the jurisdiction of Travelife.Travelife will draw the compliant to the attention of any Member involved within ten working days. Travelife will communicate the expected date to get back to the complaining party, and depending on the nature of the complaint, and the level of investigation needed by Travelife, up to a maximum of 90 days. 

4. The Appeals and Complaints Panel

All eligible complaints will be dealt with by an Appeals and Complaints Panel that will be appointed by the Programme Manager and consist of a Senior Auditor and two members of the Advisory Board with sustainable tourism and certification experience. One of the members will be appointed as Chairperson of the Panel. For each complaint, the Programme Coordinator shall check that no member of the Panel has been involved in the certification decision that is subject to the complaint. If such is the case, that member will be replaced by another person for that particular complaint.The Travelife Programme Coordinator will be Secretary to the Panel. 

5. The Appeals and Complaints Panel Evaluation

A meeting of the Panel will be held every two months either in person or via teleconference,unless there are no complaints to discuss. The complaining Party shall provide full details of the complaint and all supporting evidence in writing (documents, testimonies, photographs) to the Complaints Panel at least 5 full working days prior to the meeting of the Complaints Panel. 

6. Conduct of the Panel Evaluation

The Chairman of the Panel ensures that all necessary information has been gathered and that the Panel reviews, in confidence:

  • whether the complaint relates to the certification scheme;
  • evidence and opinions provided by the complaining party;
  • evidence and opinions provided by Travelife;
  • representations put by the two parties and after due consideration, initiates further questioning where required. Questions are submitted in writing to the appropriate party and timescales for response provided.

Following review and discussion, the Panel concludes whether the complaint relates to the certification scheme, makes a decision as soon as possible, but no later than 80 days after receipt of the complaint, and when required, advises Travelife in taking any necessary action to resolve issues arising. The Secretary of the Panel records the proceedings and the decision of the Panel. 

7. Notification of the Decision of the Panel

The Chairperson of the Panel notifies Travelife, the complaining Party and any other client involved by e-mail of the decision made by the Panel, also confirming whether the complaint relates to the certification scheme, within 7 working days from the date of the Panel’s decision. 

8. Redress

In the event of the Panel concluding decision that a decision or procedure of Travelife should be revised, redress is limited to the declaration by Travelife of the revised decision or procedure in the same manner as the original decision or procedure was communicated. There shall be no liability for loss or damage upon the original decision or procedure. 

9. Corrective Action

Travelife will consider the findings of the Panel and take any appropriate corrective and preventive action as required to resolve issues arising and especially to ensure consistency and integrity of the Standard. 

10. Records

Records of any Complaint will be retained by Travelife for a minimum of three years. The details are captured on the Complaints Recordwhich contains a summary of each eligible complaint received, how it is reviewed by the Panel and actions taken to resolve them. 

11. Confidentiality

All complaints received will be dealt with confidentially and in accordance with the requirements of the EU legislation ondata protection and the Travelife Privacy Policy.


I. Application and preparation

Company information

Based on the company details as filled in the Travelife online checklistand aself-evaluation based on the Travelife Certified standard the company applies for certification. 

The Certification Offer

If the information supplied in the online reporting tool is meaningful and complete, Travelife will prepare an offerbased on the audit time guidelines, and other factors related to the certification, such as location, language and scope of certification. The offer is developed following documented procedures that do not favour or discriminate against any applicant organisation. 

Informal online audit

In the frame of the first Certification, the Travelife secretariat will conduct an informal online audit. Purpose of the online audit is to identify weak points in the documentation and the implementation requirements. The results of the informal audit are explained to the organisation through the online reporting tool and in the form of a “remarks report”.The results of an informal audit can lead to a modification of the initial certification offer, if circumstances require. The organisation must address deviations found during the informal audit before the certification audit commences. The auditors will review the corrective action resulting from the informal audit during the certification audit.

II. The certification audit

Around three weeks before the certification audit Travelife submits the company report and related documentation to the lead auditor (which has been approved by the company). 

Stage One Audit (online)

Purpose of a stage one audit is to verify information received from the company and to determine the crucial organisational or sustainability related characteristics of the organisation. It is also the objective to conduct a review of the documents during the stage one audit.The auditor may request for further clarification. A report on the evaluation of the documents is written and sent to the organisation if the evidence provided does not fully comply with the requirements of the standard. Corrective action may be requested by the auditor before the on-site audit will commence.Based on the stage one audit the auditor prepares the audit plan, including list of the persons to be interviewed. The results of the stage-one audit may lead to a suspension of the stage two audit.

Stage Two audit

Approximately two weeks prior to the audit the companyreceives the audit plan for review and agreement.

During the stage two audit the implementation and effectiveness of the management system and sustainability performance criteria and indicators are reviewed on site by a competent auditor using a method of interviews and sampling of evidence of the implementation and effectiveness of the Travelife Certified criteria and requirements. Deviations detected by the audit team are documented.  Non-conformitiesrequire corrective action such as follow-up audit or submission of new evidence before the certification can be issued. Scope and extent of a follow-up audit are limited to the requirements affected by the non-conformity. 

Audit report

Based on the findings of the stage one and stage two audit the auditor prepares a formal draft report stating the conformity of all criteria towards the standard. Non conformities are clearly motivated and corrective actions are set with concrete deadlines. The draft report is shared with company who has the right to provide corrective information. After mutual agreement on the facts and conclusions presented in the audit report the report will be signed, first by the company and after that by the auditor.

II. Certification

Issue of a Certificate

A certificate is issued following a positive review of the audit conclusions by the Travelife certification manager. The certificate is valid for two years provided at least annual surveillance audits are performed at the organisation. 

Surveillance check

A surveillance check will take place at least once every two years (between the audits).Before a surveillance check all relevant information about the organisation and the certification requirements shall be updated online to provide for significant changes which may have an effect on the scope or other issues of the organisation’s certification.In addition to the significant changes certain requirements of the standard are checked, including update of key indicators, useof the certificate and complaints against the sustainability system and requirements. 

In case of non-conformities, the same procedure as with a certification audit is adopted. In the case of severe, repeated or unattended non-conformities or violations of the certification contract, the certificate may be suspended or withdrawn. 

Re-Certification

Before the period of two year validity expires, a recertification audit shall be performed to extend the certificate for a further two years. The effectiveness of the entire sustainability system is tested during the audit. Changes to the compliance must be announced by the organisation in advance. The audit is performed in a comparable manner to a certification audit. 

Disputes and Appeals

If there is reason for the organisation to dispute or to appeal a decision of Travelife, they can address the Travelife Certification Manager directly. If the disagreement cannot be removed by the Certification Manager, the organisation may present his case to the Appeals and Complaints Panel for a ruling.

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