All VCS projects and programs must complete a rigorous development and assessment process before registering with the VCS Program. Projects and programs registered in the VCS Program are issued unique carbon credits known as Verified Carbon Units or VCUs.

Projects and Programs

Projects

VCS projects implement a wide variety of activities that reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions, improve livelihoods, and protect nature. Projects are categorized by their sectoral scope, ranging from waste handling and disposal projects (such as biochar projects) to land use projects (such as improved forest management projects).

Programs

The VCS rules and requirements also form the foundation for the Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) framework. REDD+ is reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the sustainable management of forests and the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. The JNR framework is the world’s first integrated accounting and verification framework for jurisdictional REDD+ programs and nested projects. VCS jurisdictional and nested REDD+ programs are government-led strategies that harmonize emission reductions across national REDD+ programs as well as subnational and/or project activities.

Verified Carbon Units

Each Verified Carbon Unit (VCU) represents a reduction or removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) achieved by a project. All VCUs adhere to a number of quality assurance principles to ensure that the VCUs represent GHG emission reductions or removals that are real, measurable, additional, permanent, independently verified, conservatively estimated, uniquely numbered, and transparently listed. The project validation and verification processes, as well as Verra’s review and approval, confirm that each unit reflects these characteristics.

Verified Carbon Unit Labels

VCUs may be labeled to indicate that they meet the requirements of another certification system or standards program that has been approved by the VCS Program (a certification label), or that the VCU has been authorized for use in a national, international, or sector -specific market (a market label). These additional certifications typically represent community and biodiversity benefits achieved by projects, in addition to the climate benefits inherent in a VCU. For more information on VCU labels, see VCU Labels page.

Rules and Requirements

The VCS Program rules define the standards and processes that all projects must follow in order to be certified and are set out in a suite of documents: Requirements, Procedural, Templates, and Guidance.

Note that correction documents may be issued periodically to correct errors in text, equations, or figures in VCS Program documents or methodologies. In addition, clarification documents may be issued to provide additional guidance or clarity on VCS Program rules, or to issue minor, urgent updates to requirements in between new versions of VCS Program documents. Corrections and clarifications will be incorporated into the next issued version of the relevant program document or methodology, at which time the corrections and clarifications will be moved to an archive page on the Verra website.

These documents are updated periodically. Please check this page to ensure you are using the latest version of a given document.

Effective dates for all versions can be found in the Document History appendix of the program documents and on the VCS Governance and Development page.

Visit the Previous Versions page to view earlier versions of the VCS Program documents

Requirements documents set out the core principles and requirements for developing projects and generating GHG credits that are real, additional, permanent, independently verified and transparently registered. All VCS projects are assessed against these requirements to determine whether they are eligible to register with the VCS Program.

VCS Program Guide, v4.4  (PDF) Issued: 19 September 2019
Updated: 29 August 2023

The VCS Program Guide is the overarching VCS Program document. It sets out all rules and requirements governing the VCS Program, including the project registration process, the methodology development and review process, the accreditation requirements for validation/verification bodies, and the functioning of the Verra registry.
VCS Standard, v4.7 (PDF) Issued: 19 September 2019 
Updated:  16 April 2024

The VCS Standard sets out all specific requirements for developing projects and for the validation, monitoring, and verification of projects and GHG emission reductions and carbon dioxide removals.
VCS Methodology Requirements, v4.4 (PDF)Issued: 19 September 2019
Updated: 4 October 2023

The VCS Methodology Requirements set out all specific requirements for developing methodologies under the VCS Program, including specific requirements for AFOLU and ODS methodologies.

Notice: The following Corrections and Clarifications to the VCS Methodology Requirements have been published and will be incorporated into the next issued version of the document. The current version of the VCS Methodology Requirements must be interpreted and applied consistently with the relevant Corrections and Clarifications.

  • Clarifications to the VCS Program Rules and Requirements, published 24 November 2023 (PDF)
  • Geologic Carbon Storage (GCS) Requirements, v4.0 (PDF) Issued: 21 December 2022
    Updated: 17 January 2023

    The Geologic Carbon Storage (GCS) Requirements document sets out the specific requirements for GCS activities to participate in the VCS Program.
    VCS Program Definitions, v4.5 (PDF) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    The VCS Program Definitions are a reference document that defines all terms used in VCS Program documents.
    Program Fee Schedule, v4.4  (PDF)Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    The Program Fee Schedule sets out the fees applicable under the VCS Program.

    Procedural documents describe the steps required to perform different functions of the VCS Program, including how to apply for project registration and how to submit new methodologies for VCS approval. These documents guide users of the VCS Program through these different processes.

    Registration and Issuance Process, v4.5 (PDF) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    The Registration and Issuance Process document sets out the procedures and rules for registering projects and issuing Verified Carbon Units (VCUs).
    Methodology Development and Review Process, v4.4 (PDF) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    The Methodology Development and Review Process document sets out procedures and rules for the development and review of new and existing methodologies under the VCS Program.
    AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Tool, v4.2 (PDF) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 3 May 2024

    The AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Tool sets out the procedure for conducting non-permanence risk analysis and buffer determination for AFOLU projects.

    The AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Assessment Calculator is available now on the Verra Project Hub.
    AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Report Excel Calculation Tool, v4.2 (XLSX)Issued: 1 November 2023
    Updated: 6 December 2023

    The AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Report Excel Calculation Tool is for informational purposes only. The AFOLU Non-Permanence Risk Assessment Calculator is available now on the Verra Project Hub.
    GCS Non-Permanence Risk Tool, v4.0(PDF) Issued: 21 December 2022
    Updated: 17 January 2023

    The GCS Non-Permanence Risk Tool sets out the procedures for assessing the non-permanence risk and buffer determination required for Geologic Carbon Storage (GCS) projects.

    Templates and forms are provided to ensure that users of the VCS Program have a consistent structure to work from when completing certain documents. These templates are required for the completion of project descriptions, monitoring reports, verification reports and other required documentation.

     

    VCS Project Templates

    VCS Project Description Template, v4.4 (DOC)Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    Project description template.
    VCS Monitoring Report Template, v4.4 (DOC) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    Monitoring report template.
    VCS Joint Project Description and Monitoring Report Template, v4.4 (DOC) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    Joint project description and monitoring report template.
    Sustainable Development Contributions Report Template (DOC) Issued: 14 July 2020

    Sustainable Development Contributions Report Template.
    VCS Validation Report Template, v4.4 (DOC) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    Validation report template.
    VCS Verification Report Template, v4.4 (DOC) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    Verification report template.
    VCS Joint Validation and Verification Report Template, v4.4 (DOC) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    Joint validation and verification report template.
    Loss Event Report, v4.0 (DOC) Issued: 19 September 2019

    Loss event report template for estimating an unplanned loss of carbon stock for AFOLU projects.
    Plantilla de reporte de evento de pérdida (PDF) Issued: 19 September 2019

    Plantilla para el reporte de eventos de peridad, para estimar las pérdidas no planeadas en los stocks de carbono para proyectos AFOLU.

     

    Other

    AFOLU Buffer Account Compensation for Reversals Deed (Single PP), v1.1 (DOC)Issued: 9 January 2024
    Last Updated: 20 February 2024

    Deed template (for single project proponents) in respect of the project proponent’s obligations to compensate the AFOLU pooled buffer account in the event of a reversal, required for all AFOLU projects with non-permanence risk registered after January 1, 2024.
    AFOLU Buffer Account Compensation for Reversal Deed Template (Multiple PP), v1.0 (DOC)Issued: 20 February 2024

    Deed template (for multiple project proponents) in respect of the project proponent’s obligations to compensate the AFOLU pooled buffer account in the event of a reversal, required for all AFOLU projects with non-permanence risk registered after January 1, 2024.
    Letter of Authorization Template, v1.0 (DOC)Issued: 8 September 2023

    Article 6 Letter of Authorization (LOA) Template

     

    VCS Representations

    Issuance Representation (single PP), v4.3 (DOC) Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Deed of representation issued in respect of GHG emission reductions or removals.
    Issuance Representation (multiple PPs), v4.2 (DOC) Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated:  4 October 2023

    Deed of representation issued in respect of GHG emission reductions or removals from projects with multiple project proponents.
    Registration Representation (single PP), v4.3 (DOC)Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    Deed of representation issued in respect of the project.
    Registration Representation (multiple PPs), v4.3 (DOC)Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 16 April 2024

    Deed of representation issued in respect of GHG emission reductions or removals.
    Listing Representation (single PP), v4.2 (DOC) Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Deed of representation issued in respect of the pipeline project.
    Listing Representation (multiple PPs), v4.2 (DOC) Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Deed of representation issued in respect of the pipeline project with multiple project proponents.
    Validation Representation, v4.2 (DOC) Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Deed of representation issued in respect of validation.
    Verification Representation, v4.2 (DOC) Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Deed of representation issued in respect of verification.
    Loss Event Representation, v4.2 (DOC)Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 12 February 2024

    Deed of representation issued in respect of the loss event report, for project proponents.
    Accession Registration Representation, v4.2 (DOC) Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Deed of registration representation issued in respect of project proponents joining a project.
    Accession Listing Representation, v4.2 (DOC) Issued: 5 April 2022
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Deed of listing representation issued in respect of project proponents joining a project.
    Partial Release Registration Representation, v4.2(DOC) Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 4 October 2023

    Deed of representation issued in respect of project proponents leaving a project.
    VCU Conversion Representation, v4.2 (DOC)Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 12 February 2024

    Deed of representation issued in respect of conversion of GHG credits into VCUs.
    Partial Release Listing Representation, v4.2 (DOC) Issued: 9 April 2020
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Deed of listing representation issued in respect of project proponents leaving a project.

     

    VCS AND CCB PROJECT

    CCB and VCS Project Description Template, CCB v3.0, VCS v4.4  (DOC)Issued: 21 June 2017
    Last Updated: 3 May 2024
    Effective date: 1 January 2025



    Joint project description template for the CCB Project Description Template, v3.0 and the VCS Project Description Template, v4.4
    CCB and VCS Monitoring Report Template, CCB v3.0, VCS v4.4 (DOC)Issued: 21 June 2017
    Last Updated: 3 May 2024
    Effective date: 1 January 2025



    Joint monitoring report template for the CCB Monitoring Report Template, v3.0 and the VCS Monitoring Report Template, v4.4
    CCB and VCS Validation Report Template, CCB v3.0, VCS v4.4 (DOC)Issued: 21 June 2017
    Last Updated: 3 May 2024
    Effective date: 1 January 2025



    Joint validation report template for the CCB Validation Report Template, v3.0 and the VCS Project Description Template, v4.4
    CCB and VCS Verification Report Template, CCB v3.0, VCS v4.4 (DOC)Issued: 21 June 2017
    Last Updated: 3 May 2024
    Effective date: 1 January 2025



    Joint verification report template for the CCB Verification Report Template, v3.0 and the VCS Verification Report Template, v4.4

     

    Methodology

    Methodology Concept Note Template, v4.2 (DOC) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 2 March 2023

    Methodology concept note template.
    Methodology Idea Note Template, v4.0 (DOC) Issued: 21 December 2022

    Template to submit a Methodology Idea Note.
    Methodology Template, v4.3 (DOC) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Methodology template.
    Module Template, v4.1 (DOC) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 21 December 2022

    Module template (for tools and modules).
    Methodology Submission Form and Agreement, v4.1 (DOC) Issued: 21 December 2022
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Form for submitting a methodology to Verra.
    Methodology Assessment Report Template, v4.2 (DOC) Issued: 19 September 2019
    Updated: 29 August 2023

    Report template for validation/verification bodies conducting a first or second methodology assessment.

     

    VCS and SOCIALCARBON Project

     

     

    VCS and W+

     

     

    VVB

    Guidance documents are periodically published to illustrate different aspects of the VCS rules using examples and other guidance.

    Nesting Guidance for REDD+ Projects (PDF) Issued: 11 July 2019
    Updated: 10 December 2019

    This document provides high-level guidance for VCS REDD+ projects on nesting into existing and emerging national (or subnational) REDD+ programs.
    Guía de Anidación para Proyectos Redd+ Certificados (PDF) Actualizado 10 de diciembre de 2019
    Este documento proporciona una guía de alto nivel para los proyectos REDD+ de VCS sobre la integración en programas nacionales (o subnacionales) de REDD+ existentes y emergentes.
    VCS+SOCIALCARBON Project Development Process (PDF) Issued: 21 May 2014

    Guides project developers pursuing project certification under VCS and the SOCIALCARBON Standard.
    VCS & W+ Project Development Process (PDF)Guides project developers pursuing project certification under VCS and the W+ Standard.
    Article 6 Label Guidance, v1.0 (PDF) Issued: 29 August 2023
    Last updated: 4 October 2023

    Provides guidance and requirements for applying Article 6 labels to VCUs.
    Mitigation Outcome Type Labels Guidance, v1.2 (PDF) Issued: 29 August 2023

    Last updated: 22 March 2024

    Provides guidance and requirements for applying mitigation outcome type labels to VCUs.

     

    VVB Guidance

    Validation and Verification Manual, v3.2 (PDF) Issued: 4 October 2012
    Updated: 19 October 2016

    Supports validation/verification bodies (VVBs) and other VCS stakeholders to consistently and accurately interpret VCS Program requirements and procedures.

     

    Other Guidance

    Guidance on Converting CERs to VCUs(PDF) Provides guidance on the procedure for cancelling Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) issued by the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and converting them to VCUs.

    Clarifications to the VCS Program Rules and Requirements (PDF) Issued: 24 November 2023

    Clarifications to the VCS Standard, v4.5 and VCS Methodology Requirements, v4.4 regarding projects and methodologies using jurisdictional-level data.

    Sectoral Scopes

    Projects, activities, or methodologies can be developed under any of the 16 VCS sectoral scopes.

    Projects, activities, or methodologies can be developed under any of the 16 VCS sectoral scopes.

    1. Energy (renewable/non-renewable)
    2. Energy distribution
    3. Energy demand
    4. Manufacturing industries
    5. Chemical industry
    6. Construction
    7. Transport
    8. Mining/Mineral production
    9. Metal production
    10. Fugitive emissions – from fuels (solid, oil, and gas)
    11. Fugitive emissions – from Industrial gases (halocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride)
    12. Solvents use
    13. Waste handling and disposal
    14. Agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU)
    15. Livestock and manure management
    16. Carbon capture and storage

    Methodologies

    VCS methodologies set out detailed procedures for quantifying the real greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits of a project and provide guidance to help project developers determine project boundaries, set baselines, assess additionality, and ultimately quantify the GHG emissions that were reduced or removed.

    Validation and Verification

    An independent validation and verification process is critical to ensure the integrity of the projects registered in the VCS Program. Qualified, independent third-party auditors known as validation/verification bodies (VVBs) are tasked with assessing projects against the VCS Program rules and the requirements of the applied methodology.

    Verra Registry

    The Verra Registry is the cornerstone for the implementation of Verra’s standards and programs. It facilitates the transparent listing of information on registered projects and projects pursuing registration, issued and retired units, and enables the trading of units. It is the central repository for all information and documentation relating to Verra projects and credits. The Verra Registry also ensures the uniqueness of projects and credits in the system.

    The VCS in Compliance Markets

    Certain compliance markets are accepting high-quality carbon credits issued by voluntary GHG crediting programs, including the VCS, to fulfill their respective emission reduction and/or removal requirements. Currently, the VCS Program is accepted into the compliance markets in Colombia and South Africa. The VCS Program is eligible to supply emission reduction units for compliance under the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

    Governance and Development

    The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program is managed by Verra with the support of the VCS Program Advisory Group. Verra is committed to making certain that the VCS Program reflects the latest scientific research and is continually improved with respect to the consistency and accuracy of GHG emissions accounting.

    For more information on the VCS Version 4 development process and program updates, see the Governance and Development page.

    Grievance Redress Policy

    Verra provides a Grievance Redress Policy that applies to all standards and programs managed by Verra.

    FAQs for Review Procedures

    This frequently asked questions (FAQ) document addresses review procedures in the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program; the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards (CCBS) Program; the Plastic Waste Reduction Program (Plastic Program); and the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta) Program.

    Disclaimer: This FAQ document is current as of November 28, 2023. This FAQ document is provided for informational purposes only. The scope and nature of every review depends on the underlying facts and circumstances.