General Overview of CSA Certification

The Certified Senders Alliance certifies email senders on the basis of publicly accessible and viewable legal and technical criteria. Although these and all other regulations are freely accessible on our website, there are often questions about the procedure and process of CSA certification.

This article provides a general overview of the process from initial inquiry to successful certification.

Interest in the CSA – initial contact

To become certified, visit the official Certified Senders Alliance (CSA) website. Either via the general contact form at the bottom of the homepage („Get in touch with us“) or alternatively via the enquiry form under CSA Certification.

Following this informal initial enquiry, our Client Success Management (CSM) team will get in touch. In addition to an initial introductory explanation of CSA certification and its benefits and advantages, the interested party is asked to provide more detailed information with the help of the CSA checklist. This information also forms the starting point for the comparison of the required criteria and the basis for the further procedure between the CSM team and the interested party.

The checklist and qualification

The checklist is the most important source of information at this stage and should be completed conscientiously and truthfully by the applicant, after internal research. It serves as a tool for the initial assessment of the applicant’s current status with regard to the required legal and technical criteria.

After the applicant has completed the checklist, an initial assessment of the status of compliance with the CSA criteria is made. These results are of fundamental importance and are communicated to the interested party. In addition, a more detailed overview of the CSA regulations (CSA Rules of Procedure and CSA Conditions of Participation), prices and the added value of certification is provided.

If there is still qualified interest in certification, a personal telephone conversation between the interested party and the CSM team is arranged. The purpose of this call is to get to know the interested party, to understand the motivation for certification and to match individual expectations. The CSM team follows a rough guideline to cover all relevant aspects and clarify the most important key points.

The call also includes a short demonstration of the Certification Monitor to further illustrate the benefits of certification.

Offer and official application

Following the telephone call, the CSM will make a formal offer to the interested party for certification with the CSA.

This contract covers both the initial assessment fee and the ongoing monthly fees after successful certification. At the same time, the applicant is informed of the subsequent process and the necessary next steps.

Once the invoice for the examination fee has been paid, preparation for the certification process begins, which includes legal, technical and reputational reviews.

Legal and technical examination

In order to conduct the exams, the applicant must provide the necessary information and materials. These include:

  • sample emails from three different clients
  • a CSV file with IPs and FQDNs of the email hosts
  • and other information about the applicant’s business model and service.

These materials will be provided to the CSA review team, consisting of the Legal Counsel and the Technical Manager, to conduct the reviews in accordance with the CSA criteria.

The legal review of the three sample emails will be based on CSA Criteria 2.2 – 2.7 and will review the legal requirements.

The technical check is based on CSA criteria 2.8 – 2.21 and checks the IPs and hosts for the required DNS resolution. If this is error-free, the IPs are added to the daily monitoring in order to be able to carry out the necessary reputation check. In addition, the three sample emails are analysed for compliance with the other technical criteria.

Reputation check

Seven days after the start of IP monitoring in the Certification Monitor, each applicant will be given test access for 30 days to view their own reputation scores. Reputation data is calculated and evaluated based on data provided by mailbox providers and other data partners. This trial period is for a minimum of four weeks and allows the applicant to monitor and improve their own reputation.

Feedback after the first test

After 7 to 14 days, the applicant receives initial feedback on any violations of the CSA criteria. These are communicated by the CSM team using an audit log, and the missing requirements are discussed.

The aim is to rectify any remaining errors or violations and to seek a re-test. While the applicant rectifies the legal and technical violations, the reputation monitoring continues and can be actively used by the applicant.

The CSA expects the applicant to resolve the violations promptly, which must be evidenced by providing email examples again. The CSA will assist with information or troubleshooting.

Decision on certification

If the applicant is subsequently able to meet the legal and technical requirements, the results, including the currently available reputation data from the monitoring, are submitted to the Complaints and Certification Committee (CCC). The CCC decides on certification within 14 days based on the available results and information.

The sender will be notified of the CCC’s decision. In the event of rejection, a new application cannot be made for at least six months. If certification is successful, there is a seamless transition from the certification process to ongoing certification.

The CSA team will then seamlessly begin onboarding the new certified sender.

If a prompt resolution of any violations is not possible to achieve an error-free status, the CSA reserves the right to terminate the certification process in accordance with the CSA Conditions of Participation without prior involvement of the Complaints and Certification Committee (CCC). In this case, a new application cannot be submitted for at least six months.

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