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Membership FAQ
23 June 2014

What is the difference between provisional and registered membership?

There are two steps to becoming a full WFTO member: provisional and registered. Members must pass through both steps in order to promote their membership of the WFTO and use the WFTO logo.

The first step is to become a provisional member. When we have received your application pack we will contact your referees as well the existing members from your country. As soon as the application file is complete a recommendation is sent to the WFTO Board who decides on the approval of your organisation. If they approve your organisation you will receive an invoice for the membership fee. When we have received your payment you will receive the welcome pack. You are now a provisional member.

Provisional members have the right to:      
1 Participate in WFTO activities      
2 Receive all communications from the Secretariat
3 Serve on sub-committees
4 Attend regional meetings and scheduled international conferences
5 Attend Annual General Meetings.

Provisional members may not:      
1 Use the WFTO logo     
2 Serve on the Board   
3 Speak or vote at the Annual General Meeting. 

The second step is to become a member. All WFTO members are obliged to pass through our monitoring process. This requires a thorough Self Assessment Report (SAR) against the 10 principles of Fair Trade every two years. You may submit your first self-assessment report as soon as you have paid your first membership fees. These reports are then reviewed and accepted. After acceptance of your SAR, you can either choose to undergo a peer visit to prepare for the monitoring audit or choose to plan an audit right away. We recommend planning a peer visit first if you do not have experience with external audits. After we have received a positive result from the auditor a recommendation for approval as WFTO Guaranteed Organization is made.  After approval by the board, you will be a guaranteed member of the WFTO.

How can I contribute to WFTO?

As a global association bringing together players in the Fair Trade movement both large and small, WFTO is active in many parts of the world.

We encourage regional and country networks of WFTO members that work together to strengthen the movement in their part of the world.

Your ideas, experiences and knowledge, are all the things that make WFTO the dynamic and ever-growing association that we are. Come and join us!

What can I expect to get out of membership?

WFTO is a growing network of over 350 members in 70 countries. Click here to learn what some of our members say about what WFTO means to them and click here to read about the benefits of joining WFTO.

What languages does WFTO communicate in?

WFTO is primarily an English-language association. However, key documents and communication are translated into Spanish. 

How much does it all cost?

All applicants pay a one time Application Fee to the respective regional branches.

Once approved, all WFTO members pay an annual subscription fee to both WFTO Secretariat and the Regional Branches. This annual fee is determined by the size of your annual turnover.

The costs for peer visits and monitoring audits are also paid by the member.

Please click here for details of our fee structure for the current year .

Can I start using the WFTO Product Label immediately after I've joined?

No. You need to pass through the full cycle of the WFTO Guarantee System in order to be authorised to use the WFTO Product Label. To learn more, please read the WFTO Guarantee System .

What are my obligations as a member?

All members are requried to:

  • Send the Secretariat a copy of your official annual accounts within ten (10) months of the close of your fiscal/financial year. If your accounts are audited, you must submit the auditors’ report.
  • Submit a Self-Assessment Report every two (2) years.
  • Pay an annual fee, as determined by the Annual General Meeting. The payment is due within thirty (30) days of receipt of the invoice.
  • Inform immediately in writing of any change in contact details of the member, provisional member or associate.

How long does it take to process my application?

The WFTO Secretariat endeavours to process your application as quickly as possible. As long as you have sent in all the information that we require in order to process your application, and your referees respond to our requests for a reference in good time, the whole process can take about 3 months.

However, sometimes the process can take longer due to delays from referees, or if there is outstanding information required from you.

Obtaining references is a major bottleneck and can significantly slow down the application process. To speed up the process, we kindly ask you to get in contact with your referees when — or before – you submit your application. That way, they know what is expected from them.

In all cases the Secretariat will keep you informed as to progress along the way, and will advise you of any further information that may be required.

What happens when I submit my application?

Your referees will be contacted, and they are given one month to respond. If, after a month, no response is received, you will be advised and the referee will receive a reminder.

Once all the references have been collected, the file is given to the Executive Director for initial assessment. After this, the file is sent to each member of the Board of Directors, who are given 6 weeks to provide a final assessment.

You will be notified as soon as a final decision is made.

If your application is successful, you will be sent an invoice based on your gross income figure. Your membership will become active as soon as the fee is paid.

Can I pay my fee by credit card?

Yes you can. Log in to the Members Only Website and check the Member Tools section.

What currencies can I pay in?

We accept Euros only. This will be clearly indicated on the invoice, together with our bank details and any fees that may be applicable to the bank transaction charges, which must be covered by the members.

Interested? Read these hints on completing an application

Make the most of your application form! This is your chance to tell us all about your organisation and its commitment to the movement. The more we know about you, the easier and quicker it will be for us to process your application.

Please take into account that:

  • WFTO HAS THREE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: English, French and Spanish. You should submit your application AND the additional documents in one of those three languages. If you submit forms or documents in another language, WFTO will be not able to process your application. This implies further delays.
  • ONLY COMPLETE APPLICATIONS ARE PROCESSED. You must fill in your form carefully. If information is missing, we will not proceed to process the application. If in any case you cannot answer a question, please make this clear in your application rather than leaving an empty space.
  • YOU SHOULD ONLY INCLUDE INFORMATION THAT YOU CAN PROVE AS TRUTHFUL. WFTO might use the information given in the application form in an external audit in case of strong doubts or complaints. In addition, it is important that you are aware that WFTO will conduct external audits of all of our Members in the near future.

Don't forget to send us:

  • The correctly filled in and signed application form
  • Last two years of your financial reports, must be audited (accompanied with auditors report) when your turnover is above US$200,000
  • a signed copy of the WFTO Code of Practice
  • Your organization's constitution/bylaws/company registration when your organization's establishment date and mission are stated 
  • contact details of three referees who have already agreed to provide a reference for you. One of these referees must be a WFTO member. You must include an email address.

Please read our Guideline for Provisional Membership and our Membership Policy and Procedure carefully before applying. You can find them here .

Remember that we only accept electronic applications. If this is a problem for you, please contact our membership officer.

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