PMP Audit Process - A Step-by-Step Guide and FAQs [Updated for 2017]

10 minute read    Updated:    Harwinder Singh

PMI PMP Application Audit Process

PMI PMP audit is probably the most feared part of PMP Certification. Most fears are uncalled for and probably stem from the confusion around the audit process. If you understand the process well, it will take away some anxiety and help you concentrate on the exam.

So let’s step back and understand the PMP application process first and then see where the audit fits in.

PMP Application and Audit Selection Process: Step-by-step

  1. You submit your PMP certification application to PMI.
  2. PMI reviews your application. If your application is approved, you receive an application approval email from PMI. Your one-year eligibility clock starts ticking from the day of approval.
  3. You may pay the exam fee anytime within your one-year eligibility window. Ideally, you should make the payment soon after application approval in order to give yourself ample time to schedule and take the exam. You should also consider the possibility for re-examination (just in case you don't clear in the first attempt). Note: You can take the exam up to 3 times within your one-year eligibility window.
  4. After you pay the exam fee, PMI will send you "one" of the following two emails:
    • If your application is not selected for an audit, you will get an email with examination scheduling instructions to help you schedule your exam.
    • If your application is selected for a PMI audit, you will get an email with instructions to comply with the audit.


Why does PMI conduct application audits?

The purpose of the audit is to maintain the credibility and value of the PMP certification program as well as of the certification holders. Through the audit process, PMI confirms the experience and/or education documented on certification applications.

I personally think that audit is extremely important. I don’t want every proverbial Tom, Dick and Harry to be PMP certified. Only experienced and qualified project managers should be allowed to take the exam and earn the PMP credential.

What is the PMP Audit Process?

If your application gets selected for an audit, your one-year PMP exam eligibility clock stops until the audit process is complete. The email that you will receive from PMI will also have instructions to comply with the audit. The steps to comply with the audit are:

  1. Download the "audit package" from PMI Online Certification System.

  2. Print the PMI audit forms in the audit package.

  3. Get signatures from your manager(s) / supervisor(s) on the Experience Verification form.
    • For each project listed on the experience verification section of your application, you need to get physical (not electronic) signatures from the respective manager(s) / supervisor(s) on those projects. Each manager/supervisor should sign a separate copy of the form. For example, if you have different managers on two projects, you need to get two forms signed, one from each manager. But if you had the same manager on more than one project, he/she can sign against multiple projects on the same form.

    • After signing the form, the manager/supervisor needs to put the form in an envelope, seal it, sign at the back of the envelope across the sealed portion of the flap, and return it to you. Note: Make sure that they return the form to you, and not send it to PMI directly.

  4. Make photocopies of your diploma/degree certificates.

  5. Make photocopies of the certificates or letters from the training provider(s) for the 35 Contact Hours of Project Management education.

  6. Put all the documents and photocopies in a large envelope and send it to PMI, either through regular postal mail or courier service, at the following address: PMI
    Attn.: Certification Audit
    14 Campus Blvd.
    Newtown Square, PA 19073-3299 USA

Note: PMI will not accept faxed or e-mailed audits documents. Send all the material together, in one envelope, to expedite the processing.

Which Documents do I need to submit for PMP Audit?

To comply with PMP application audit, you would be asked to submit the following documents to PMI via postal mail.

Please refer to Documents required to comply with PMP Audit for details.

How much time does it take to complete the PMP Audit?

The PMP Audit time primarily depends on how fast the applicant mails back the requested information to PMI. Once PMI receives your documents, they usually takes about 5 business days to complete the audit. If you clear the audit, PMI will give you a go ahead for scheduling the exam and your eligibility clock will start ticking again.

Here’s a break-up of the PMP Audit processing time:

  1. The time you take to complete the audit package - The sooner you complete the package, the shorter the overall processing time is.
  2. The shipping time for the package (to PMI). You can expedite the process by using a good courier service.
  3. The time PMI takes to process your audit package. PMI takes about 5 business days to process your audit documents after it receives them.

In summary, the audit processing time mainly depends on you because you have control over the first two components.

Tips to ensure a smooth PMP Audit

To ensure that your audit goes smoothly, the best practice is to establish contact with all the people whose name you intend to list as your managers/supervisors on your PMP application BEFORE you submit your PMP application.

Let them know that you are applying for PMP certification and you want to list their name on the application form as your manager/supervisor. Remind them of the projects, which you did under their supervision, and intend to include on your application. Tell them about the audit process and the possibility that you might need their help to verify your experience, in case your application gets audited. Request their current contact details such as contact number and office address. Also tell them that PMI might contact them through phone or email to verify your experience.

If you are unable to contact them, or get their concurrence on your application due to any reason, look for alternatives even before you file your application. If you follow this practice, and fill your application truthfully, you don’t have anything to fear from the audit. It will also take away lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety, and help you prepare better.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the PMP Audit process

  • Is there a way to avoid PMP Application Audit?

    You cannot. However, you can follow the best practices outlined above to prepare yourself to face the audit and ensure that the audit goes through smoothly, in case your application gets audited.
  • What percentage of PMP applications get Audited?

    f you want an authentic answer, then it is "we do not know". PMI does not disclose the number of applications that get audited, or the basis on which applications are audited. According to Project Management training institutes, which train PMP exam candidates in hundreds every year, roughly 10% of the applications get audited. However, in my personal experience, the number is even lower.
  • When do I know my PMP Application has been Selected for an Audit?

    As explained in the step-by-step process above, you'll know whether your application is selected for an audit immediately after you pay the PMP exam fee.
  • If my PMP application is selected for an audit, does PMI extend my 1-year eligibility window?

    Normally, PMP application approval is valid for 1 year only. That means, you must take the exam within 1-year from your application approval date. However, if your application is selected for an audit, your eligibility clock stops. The clock will start ticking again after you pass the audit. In summary, the time it takes for audit is not taken from your one-year eligibility window and your eligibility period will be extended by the number of days it takes to complete the audit.
  • How much time do I have to submit my documents to PMI?

    Your completed audit package should reach PMI within 90 days.
  • What does the experience verification form look like?

    Following is a copy of the experience verification form for your reference only. In case your application is selected for an audit, PMI would provide you a link to download the latest version of the form from their website. You should use that link to download the form. You would need to submit one form per project (mentioned in your PMP application).


  • If a supervising manager of the project listed on my PMP application, is not available due to any reason, what options do I have?

    You can have a colleague on that project or the current manager/supervisor who has good knowledge of that project, sign your experience verification form.
  • What happens if I fail the audit?

    If you fail to meet the PMP Audit requirements, PMI will refund your exam fee, minus $100 administration fee for the audit. Now you know why they ask you to pay first :) In addition, and more importantly, your application approval would stand canceled. Moreover, PMI has clearly mentioned in the PMP Handbook that they reserve the right to audit any candidate any time i.e. even after they achieve the PMP credentials. If you fail to meet the audit requirements after you achieve your PMP certification, you will not be eligible for any refund.
  • If I fail the audit, how soon can I re-apply for the PMP Exam?

    If you fail the audit, you can re-apply after a one-year suspension period.
  • What if I submit incomplete documents to PMI?

    Submitting incomplete documents is automatically considered a "failed" audit.
  • Where can I get more information about the audit process?

    PMI provides a very informative list of 30+ audit FAQs, which very few people are aware of. Here's the link to the page: PMI Certification FAQs (scroll down to "Audit" section).

If you have additional questions, let me know and I’ll try to address them.

Image credit: Flick / jakerust

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43 Comments

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hi Anonymous,

That's a good question.

You have to be as accurate as reasonably possible in filling up those hours. Of course, no one can be 100% accurate in capturing 4500-7500 hrs of experience in different process groups. It's always an approximation.

Let me answer your question in a different way too by asking you another question. What happens during an audit? One of the requirements of the audit is to get your PM experience details, which you submitted as part of your application, verified by your managers/supervisors on the projects you mentioned in your application.

As long as your managers/supervisors can "approve" your details and put their signature to verify them, you are fine.

Hope this answers your question.

Hmmmmm....... I train roughly 2,000 people per year (graduate level project management training) and I cannot imagine why anyone who was legitimate should fear a PMI audit.

Accumulating 4500 hours of project leadership experience over a 3 to 6 year period or 7500 hours over a 4 to 8 year period is at best, part time work as a project manager. (4500/6000 = 75%)

Surely, anyone holding themselves out to be a "professional" anything should be working full time?

Another point- Malcolm Gladwell, in hist latest book "Outliers" defines the top professionals in any field as having amassed at least 10,000 hours of full time, dedicated practice.

Perhaps it is no wonder that projects fail with such alarming regularity?

BR,
Dr. PDG, in Boston
http://www.getpmcertified.com

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hi Dr. PDG,

You always have an interesting perspective. I'll try to read "Outliers" before expressing my thoughts.

Regarding the audit, as I said in my post, if someone has truthfully filled up the application form, there's no reason for fear.

However, if you read the fine-prints of PMI's audit requirements, it's almost impossible for anyone to fail the audit (unless, of course, the person doesn't even submit the requested documents for audit or submits incomplete info). I hope you know what I mean.

Thanks.

Missing Avatar

The "fear" of an audit is legitimate, when one considers all the time it will take to get documentation and signatures together. Dr PDG.
And, you should know, that many Professional fields allow for part time work. Your comment seems harsh.

Missing Avatar

Hi

One quick question which is not related to this post

I would like to start my preparation for CAPM. Can I become a PMI member even if I want to do the exam not for another 6 months?

In other words, Is there any time constraint to take the exam CAPM/PMP if i become the member of PMI?

I would appreciate if you clarify this

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Naykka,

I overlooked your comment until today.

Yes, you can become a PMI member now if you plan to take the exam after 6 months also.

PMI membership is valid for 1 year. Make sure that you sign up for the exam within one year to avail the discount.

Your exam date could be even beyond one year. Your application has to be approved within that one year and you should pay-up for the exam within that one year.

All the best.

Missing Avatar

Great list of helpful FAQ! I have to admit, when I was going through the PMP certification process a few years ago, I almost had a heart attack when I saw I was being audited. That big threat of failure or suspension was not an option. Unfortunately, PMI didn't show examples of what they wanted and attempts to have them provide examples went unanswered. My best advise is just be honest. It sounds shocking, but yes, just be honest. When people approach me about the PMP application process, I tell them to expect and plan for an audit. I found the audit process took as long as studying for the exam. It wasn't hard to actually document what I did. It was time consuming tracking down stakeholders, to get original signatures for my participation on each project.

Regards,
Derek Huether
http://twitter.com/derekhuether
http://thecriticalpath.info

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Derek,

Great advice. I fully agree with you. Being "honest" and "planning for the audit" are very important. PMP applicants should learn from the experience of people like you who have gone through the ordeal.

Thanks for sharing your insight.

Missing Avatar

I was going to write essentially the same thing as Derek - about "honesty" - but he beat me to it. My heart goes out to Derek with his statement that "I found the audit process took as long as studying for the exam." Many of our clients have been audited, whether PMI certification candidates or PMPs earning PDUs to maintain there PMI certification. In all cases, the process was pretty simple - at least for verifying training - and took very little time and was resolved within a week or 2. I hope that others are not so arduous as what Derek experienced.
_______________________
John Reiling, PMP

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello John,

Thanks for your comments.

Let me inject (my adaption of) a famous quotation:

The more 'preparation' you have before the (PMP) application, the less 'perspiration' you have during the audit :)

BTW, I'm also one of your students. I just didn't pay any fee. I've learned a lot from you through your articles on Project Management. I want to take this opportunity to thank you.

Regards,
Harwinder a.k.a. Brain Washer :)

Missing Avatar

Harwinder Sir, My name is Sreekanth
I need your help regarind my CAPM Application audit process.
I paid my fee on 1st July and i was almost tensed to see that my application is in audit process.
can you pleaseeeeeeeee guide me with this
I have paid my fee and bought books with my savings in my first job. Hope this says you how important this exam is for me.
I mentioned my Summer Internship with Lafarge India and my current job as planning engg as my work exp.
Now on June 22nd I had quit my job with my parents support, in a way to give my full time to prep for this exam.
Do i need to Send my Original Certificates to PMI ? In that case i need them for my future purposes :( so it'll be prob for me to give originals.
Please do suggest the right way for me to go through this auditing process with clean hands.
kindly guide me sir. .

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Sreekanth,

First, calm down. You don't need to worry. PMI should have sent you an email with details of the audit requirements. You do NOT need to submit any original documents. Photocopies are sufficient. The audit process for CAPM isn't as complex as for the PMP. Simply follow the instructions given by PMI, and you should be fine.

Feel free to Contact Me if you need more help.

Good luck.

Missing Avatar

I am done with my audit :). Next step is to schedule the exam.

Actually its not as scary as the word " audit " sounds.

I had sent the documents the way PMI wants me to ( signed by respective persons and seal them, again sign on sealed cover etc.. ) and had also attached the printout of an excel sheet which is an abstract of all my qualifications and experience details.

Once it reached PMI, i got mail very next day saying that my application audit is done and i can schedule my exam

Missing Avatar

There is nothing to worry about the audit if you meet the requirements. It is more like adouble check, they do not come knocking at your door demanding documents, they just pursue your references and ensure they match up.

Missing Avatar

Hi,
Does one have to only send the experience verification form sent my PMI Audit application or can attach additional supporting documents like on company letter head experience mentioned of candidate?

Regards,
HASK

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello HASK,

Just getting the signatures from your managers/supervisors on the experience verification form should suffice. Unless the audit package requests for supporting info for experience verification, you don't need to send it.

BTW, has your application been selected for an audit?

Good luck.

Missing Avatar

Hi Harwinder,

Yeap my application has been selected for audit.I was prepared before hand for the ordeal so it wasnt a shock for me as I had communicated with my managers/supervisors prior to submitting the application for any further verification required.
On confusion now I am facing is that they have left the organization whenI was working there, but I think thats not an issue also?
Regards,
HASK

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello again HASK,

I'm sure this is a common problem that many people face.

You can have someone else in similar capacity as your managers/supervisors to sign your verification form.

Good luck.

Missing Avatar

Hi Harwinder,

Should I include my CV with the audit application or shall wait when it is required by PMI?

Regards,
HASK

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello HASK,

Simply follow the instructions in your audit package. Don't send anything that is not requested.

BTW, if you send me a copy of the instructions in the package, I can post it on this page for the benefit of others. I'm sure there'll be lots of people who would thank you for it.

Best regards.

Missing Avatar

PMP, Category One Candidate
Category One Applicants:
Verifying Bachelor's/equivalent university degree.
Verifying your Project Management Experience.
Verifying 35 contact hours of Project Management Education.

Submission of the Experience Verification Form(s)
A manager, supervisor, or colleague who is intimately familiar with the experience on your application is required to review your Experience Record and then complete the Experience Verification Form. After they verify, they will put the completed Experience Verification Form and Experience Record in an envelope, sign his/her name over the sealed flap of the envelope, and return the envelope to you via in person or by mail. If one person is verifying multiple projects for the same company, they can fill out one form and initial or highlight on the Experience Record the projects that they are verifying. Faxed or scanned forms will not be accepted as the forms need to be placed in a sealed and signed envelope for security purposes. No substitutions will be accepted.

Documenting the 35 hours of Project Management Related Education
Documentation for each course submitted for meeting the 35 hours of project management education outlined in the attached Education Record. To properly document these activities you must include a certificate, transcript, or letter of attendance from the company, Registered Education Provider (R.E.P), school, or institute that provided the training. The courses submitted must have learning objectives that are directly related to the project management profession. No substitutions will be accepted.

Documenting educational background degree (Bachelors, Masters, or PhD only)
A copy of your degree or transcript from the educational institution where your Bachelors, Masters, or PhD (or global equivalent university degree) was earned is required.

Completed audit forms can be sent back to PMI via regular or postal mail. PMI will not accept faxed or e-mailed audits. Upon receipt, the Certification Audit Team will process your audit expeditiously. If PMI requires clarification from you during the course of processing your audit materials, a representative will contact you directly.

Regards,
HASK

Missing Avatar

There are two categories for audit:

Category One Applicants:
a.) Verifying Bachelor's/equivalent university degree.
b.) Verifying your Project Management Experience.
c.) Verifying 35 contact hours of Project Management Education

-----------------------------------

Category Two Applicants:
a.) Verifying your Project Management Experience.
b.) Verifying 35 contact hours of Project Management Education

Regards,
HASK

Missing Avatar

Yep agreed, the audit is nothing to be concerned about. Of course proper checking of dicuments ensures you do not have the delay and hastle of having to go through it but I would not be overly worried by it. If you meet the requirements you will get in.

Missing Avatar

My PMP Audit completed in just 4 business days. I got email on last Saturday that my application is selected for audit when i submitted my exam fee. On this Monday, I tried to contact my reference but they were not available. I could get hold of them on Tuesday and took appointment for Wednesday,got the signatures and send the package back to PMI on the same day. PMI received the package today morning(Thursday) at 10 AM and completed the processing by 4 PM and sent email that I can go ahead and schedule for the exam. So PMI took just 6 hours to complete it !!

I think, no one should worry about audit as long as you are truthful in application and your references agree on the projects.

Missing Avatar

Even i got selected for audit and i have been contacting my references. Have they signed the forum which is in pdf form and signed at the bottom? how did it really work?

Missing Avatar

Hi, i have some questions please:
-If my application was to be audited, should i send original certificates or a copy (like MBA certificate)? What about if i can't get a copy as the university is overseas?
- Will they return the documents after finishing the audit or not?
Thanks

Missing Avatar

Hi

There is no need for sending originals ... just sent the photo copies of ur degree/certificates .

I hv done the same and now PMP :-)

Missing Avatar

PMI audit is a scam to rip off potential candidates. Why does PMI ask for payment of full fee, when it can "stop the clock" at the audit stage? Why don't they let candidate pay only audit fee first, and then have them pay the complete fee once and IF they clear the audits? PMI explains nothing on why the audit has been designed this way, apart from the "highest standards" waffle

For each candidate 2-3 times of the audit fees ends up lying in PMI bank accounts for a period of upto 90 days, while worried candidates scramble for their documentation to be completed. In case of a failure in audit, the money is not returned immediately, and if you can imagine 5000 + applications each month, the math can clearly explain real logic behind PMI audits.

Also PMI never explains what exactly it means by "random" audit. The word random is open to many interpretations.

For this reason, I don't consider PMI to be an organization of highest ethical standards anyway. It's just that the certifications have become a fad, so everyone is trying to acquire those, regardless of costs. I know many people from poor countries who pay this large fee for certification, only to find out the have been hoodwinked randomly. Won't recommend people to become PMI member; just get done with certifications if they can, and be prepared to be conned.

Missing Avatar

Hi Guys can u pls help me..i got into audit...just 1 query...they mentioned for the audit as : "After they verify, they will put the completed Experience Verification Form and Experience Record in an envelope,..." Is the completed experience form & experience record are different...i have pdf for each of my exp to be fill in where to find the experience record doc ??

Pls reply asap...

R Avatar

i also got the audit email right after i submitted my application. I have not made any payment . One more thing - Does the PMI send audit form to supervisor directly through email mentioned in experience form or do we need give it to supervisor for sign.

Missing Avatar

My manager is in Australia and I , in India. Can I send him the Experience verification form and experience records of my projects on Email and ask him to print , initial, scan and email them back to me? And I can then send it by FedEx to the PMI org in US?

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello Manjeet,

I suggest you confirm with PMI customer care whether scanned copy of the signed form would be acceptable. I think it should work as many people work remotely and not co-located with their supervisors these days. Please come back to share your experience after you've completed the audit process. Good luck!

R Avatar

i got the audit email right after i submitted my application. I have not made any payment . One more thing - does the PMI directly send audit form to manager which is mentioned in the experience form or do I need to print and give it to manager for signature.

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello R,

It seems PMI may have changed the process recently. In the past, the audit email was sent after making the payment. Can you share the contents of the email with me without any of your personally identifiable details? If that’s okay, you can Send Me the content of the email for reference.

To your question, PMI will NOT send the form to your supervisor. You’ll have to get that done. Details are in the post above.

Thanks for sharing your experience.