Frequently Asked Question

What is the meaning of “initial PCI DSS assessment”?

An initial assessment means an entity has never undergone a prior PCI DSS assessment that resulted in the submission of a compliance validation document. Examples of validation documents include an Attestation of Compliance (AOC), Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ), and Report on Compliance (ROC).

The concept of “initial assessments” applies only where an entity has not undergone a prior assessment against a PCI DSS requirement that has a defined timeframe (for example, with an activity that is to be performed once every three months or every six months). For an initial assessment, it is not required that the activity has been performed for every such timeframe during the previous year, if the assessor verifies that:

  • The activity was performed in accordance with the applicable requirement within the most recent timeframe (for example, the most recent three-month or six-month period), and

  • The entity has documented policies and procedures for continuing to perform the activity within the defined timeframe.

All other applicable PCI DSS requirements are expected to be in place at the time of the assessment.

If an entity has previously submitted a formal validation document, subsequent assessments of the requirements reviewed in prior assessments cannot be considered an initial assessment. Examples of situations that do not change or reset an entity’s initial assessment date include where the entity:

  • Misses a subsequent assessment date,

  • Changes assessor companies,

  • Reports to a different compliance entity, or

  • Changes or introduces new technologies to the environment.

Where an entity is being assessed to a PCI DSS requirement with a defined timeframe for the first time—for example, if the addition of a new payment acceptance channel results in an additional PCI DSS requirement(s) becoming applicable or where a PCI DSS requirement(s) with a defined timeframe is added to a ROC or SAQ —the first assessment of the additional requirement(s) could be considered an initial assessment for that specific requirement(s).

Entities should always consult with their acquiring bank or payment brand(s) to confirm how to report their compliance. Contact information for the payment brands is provided in FAQ 1142 How do I contact the payment card brands?

Internal gap assessments and pre-production assessments that do not result in a formal compliance document are not considered initial assessments. For further guidance on PCI DSS compliance in pre-production environments, refer to FAQ 1333 Can PCI DSS compliance be determined by testing only pre-production environments using test data?

April 2023
Article Number: 1485