The goal to certify forensic anthropologists stems from the increasing knowledge of and need for this discipline in judicial cases and the consequent proliferation of courses of dubious origin and more importantly to address the growing issue of “self-made” experts.  Quality control over who can qualify as an expert forensic anthropologist must be offered at the European/international level. The proposed certification programme aims to enable standardization among forensic experts and allow their acceptance by international courts. The FASE vision includes:

- establishing a certification scheme for forensic anthropologists

- supporting cooperation between European research institutions

- improving the quality of methods and data used in forensic anthropology,  which is in agreement with the recent developments in the European Union

FASE proposes the International Academy of Legal Medicine (IALM) to be the certifying agency, with FASE being the executive party. The proposed certification is intended to enable standardization among forensic experts and allow their acceptance by international courts. Although the certification will be open to all countries, it particularly aims to be adapted to the European reality, in which forensic anthropology is being practised by specialists with various backgrounds, such as physical anthropologists, medical doctors, and biologists.

However, this certification is intended for the younger and new generation as only recently the appropriate cultural tools for proper awareness and training in Europe and internationally has become available and widespread. Thus, the academic society is now in a position to create this professional certification. After several years of deliberations, the Evaluation Committee (listed above) has been chosen according to academic and professional qualifications.
For the older generation of practitioners who have been practicing for at least 10 years, certification will be granted based upon their CV, qualifications, academic status and professional experience (e.g. honoris causa).

At the present time, certification will only focus on human remains and not the assessment of the living.

After consideration of the recent academic events in the European  and American scenarios we have come to the conclusion that certification concerns the validation of individuals for professional activity, with levels of certification being divided into two basic categories:
- a lower level (level II) where minimal qualification for handling skeletal remains and providing assistance to senior personnel (e.g. pathologists or anthropologists) is achieved; and
- a full qualification (level I) where the certified person is considered independent practitioner in medicolegal issues that can be addressed by a forensic anthropologist.


Level II
An anthropologist who works under close supervision of a supervisor whether they are a forensic pathologist or anthropologist.
Responsibilities may include data collection, which can include maceration, inventory, radiography, standard measurements, photography, initial notes, analyses, etc.

The applicant must hold a Master’s degree in biological anthropology or related fields (e.g. biology, natural sciences, biochemistry and medicine).
In addition, the applicant must show participation in relevant and continuing education in forensic anthropology by being member of FASE – Forensic Anthropology Society of Europe, and being able to provide proof of assisting with casework, such as initial data collection, co-signing reports, letter from supervisor detailing laboratory responsibilities, and attending relevant workshops.

Certification will be performed in two phases:
1) an initial evaluation of the CV; and
2) for those candidates who pass the CV evaluation, a written and practical examination.
The written examination will consist of a set of 10 questions on forensic anthropology methods. The practical exam will be performed on a human skeleton with questions concerning human/non-human identification, aspects of the biological profile, and trauma.

Level I
Level I can independently conduct forensic anthropological analyses, write and sign reports, and testify in court. The conditions for being accepted as Level I diplomate include:

•    the same qualifications as Level II apply
•    holding an MD or a PhD degree in biological anthropology or related fields (a Master's degree is not mandatory for Level I)
•    expertise (at least 10 cases) and 3 years of experience after degree completion
•    practical evaluation, including at least two real-life case scenarios, with the assessment results being presented orally by the candidate


1. Fill in and submit the application form

2. The CV and request should be sent to the FASE Committee along with the cases submitted for evaluation (notarised in the original language and translated to English).

For Level I, an official request and/or submission of 2 forensic caseworks to respective agency, such as prosecution’s office, judge/magistrate, police, medical examiner office or similar country specific agency is also needed.
For Level II, a recommendation from the direct supervisor and clear evidence of contribution to forensic cases must be submitted for evaluation.

3.  Any other relevant documentation.



- Prof. Sue Black - Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK

- Prof. Cristina Cattaneo - LABANOF- Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Odontology, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

- Prof. Eugénia Cunha - Department of Life Sciences/ Forensic Research Center, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

- Prof. Gérald Quatrehomme - Laboratory of Forensic Pathology and Forensic Anthropology, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France

- Prof. Ann H. Ross - Department of Sociology and Anthropology, NC State University, Raleigh, USA

- Prof. Douglas Ubelaker - Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA



To support the meetings of the evaluation committee, a fee of 100EUR will be required to finalize the application process, after a first evaluation of the CV by the committee. Payment should be exclusively done by wire transfer to the following account:

Account Name: Centro de Estudos de Pós-Graduação em Medicina Legal

Bank name: Santander Totta (0018)

Bank Address: Av. Dr. Armando Gonçalves, 5, 3000-059 Coimbra, Portugal; Agência: 0269 – Coimbra, Cruz de Celas

Swift code: TOTAPTPL

IBAN code: PT50001802690020002510588

NIB: 001802690020002510588

Please note that the transfer should be free of any charges for the beneficiary.


Candidates, who have been approved for examination and who paid the application fees, can sit the exam in one of the following locations:  Milan, Coimbra, Montpellier, Granada and Raleigh (USA) or at scheduled FASE meetings.  

The applications and written examinations will be evaluated by the entire Examination Committee.
Practical and final Level I examinations will be evaluated by three members of the Scientific Committee locally. 


Deadline for submission of CV:  February 28 2014
Shortlisting for Level I and II:  March 15 2014
Examination Milan-Coimbra May 2 2014
Examination for Level I: May 3 2014

 Brief summary on the development of the FASE forensic anthropology certification idea

The different histories and roots of the science of forensic anthropology in Europe, USA and Latin America are reflected on the nowadays different formations and backgrounds of the experts practicing forensic anthropology, highlighting once again the different forensic realities that anthropology experts face nowadays. Nevertheless it is important to uniform and to try to reach the same standards across the world. The actual society, with so many mass disasters and crimes against humanities, needs it. That is why an international system of certification is paramount.

In December 2011 Council of the European Union published Council conclusions on the vision for European Forensic Science 2020 including the creation of a European Forensic Science Area and the development of forensic science infrastructure in Europe, which highlights the importance of accreditation of forensic science institutes and laboratories and the establishment of Europe-wide best practice manuals and conducting proficiency tests at international level (more information: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/jha/126875.pdf ).

The document addresses the need for information exchange between forensic sciences and law enforcement, particularly the need for establishing and sharing databases with high-quality data, and the need to broaden confidence in the recognition of the equivalence of each others’ standards for the collection, processing, use and delivery of forensic data, by making these transparent so as to identify the common minimum quality conditions under which such data can be acceptable for use by police and judicial authorities. The paper states that European Forensic Science Area should be created by 2020, in which routine forensic processes for the collection, processing, use and delivery of forensic data will be based on equivalent minimum forensic science standards, and in which forensic service providers will work on the basis of a common approach to implementation of these standards that fosters closer cooperation between them and the criminal justice systems.

Guided by the same idea, in 2010 in Denmark, during the Forensic Anthropology Symposium, FASE proposed to start a formal forensic anthropology certification process. The initiative has been discussed several times.  During the 63rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, held in Chicago in 2011, FASE co-organized and presented a breakfast seminar: „Internationalization of forensic science disciplines: why certification is necessary in forensic anthropology?“. The seminar was crowded; the full capacity of the room was reached, and near 100 persons from all over the world participated in the discussion. The proposal was well accepted although has also raised some concerns. The follow-up discussion was worthwhile and very useful for the creation of guidelines and for the process of accreditation itself. Valuable advices and suggestions were given by JPAC teams, Physical Anthropology Board as well as by Scientific Working Group for Forensic Anthropology (SGANTH) and from BAHID- British Association for Human Identification. The same year, in Madeira during the 19th IAFS Meeting, during the Scientific Session of the Society dedicated to the new developments in forensic anthropology the paper International Certification in Forensic Anthropology: The next step by Ross A., Cattaneo, C., Martrille, L., Baccino, E., Kimmerle, E., Baraybar, J. P., Ubelaker, D. and Cunha, E. has been presented. The discussion that aroused afterwards, with still a lot of conflicting opinions, led to the conclusion that more discussion and time is needed to define precisely the exact procedure of the certification to meet best the initial vision of this process that should be objective, internationally accepted and non-exclusionary.Finally, in Istanbul (July 2012) at the 22nd IALM Congress, after the session in Forensic Anthropology on the second day of the Congress, the idea has been again presented by the FASE president Eugenia Cunha. She highlighted the certification initiative and asked for votes regarding the implementation of the certification by FASE/IALM. The majority agreed with initiating certification for forensic anthropologists in Europe but some issues were raised regarding the process. The next step is a survey among FASE members in order to clarify their concerns.