About ISO

What is ISO?

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. International Standards give state of the art specifications for products, services and good practice, helping to make industry more efficient and effective. Developed through global consensus, they help to break down barriers to international trade.

What we do

ISO develops International Standards. We were founded in 1947, and since then have published more than 19 000 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and business. From food safety to computers, and agriculture to healthcare, ISO International Standards impact all our lives.

What ISO standards do for you

Contact ISO

International Organization for Standardization
ISO Central Secretariat
1, ch. de la Voie-Creuse
CP 56
CH-1211 Geneva 20

E-mail:   central@iso.org
Tel. :   +41 22 749 01 11
Fax :   +41 22 733 34 30

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Looking to get certified?

ISO doesn’t provide certification or conformity assessment. You’ll need to contact an external certification body for that. Read more about certification and how to find a certification body.

Who we are

We are a network of national standards bodies. These national standards bodies make up the ISO membership and they represent ISO in their country.

More details on our members can be found in the full list of ISO members.

How we work

ISO is an independent, non-governmental organization made up of members from the national standards bodies of 164 countries. We have a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system.

Our story

The ISO story began in 1946 when delegates from 25 countries met at the Institute of Civil Engineers in London and decided to create a new international organization ‘to facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards’. In February 1947 the new organisation, ISO, officially began operations.

Since then,we have published over 19 000  International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and manufacturing.

Today we have members from 164 countries and 3 335 technical bodies to take care of standard development. More than 150 people work full time for ISO’s Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

Our name

Because 'International Organization for Standardization' would have different acronyms in different languages (IOS in English, OIN in French for Organisation internationale de normalisation), our founders decided to give it the short form ISO. ISO is derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal. Whatever the country, whatever the language, the short form of our name is always ISO.

Founders of ISO, London 1946
Founders of ISO, London 1946

What are the benefits of ISO International Standards?

ISO International Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors and increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field for developing countries and facilitate free and fair global trade.

How does ISO develop standards?

Our standards are developed by the people that need them, through a consensus process. Experts from all over the world develop the standards that are required by their sector. This means they reflect a wealth of international experience and knowledge.

ISO Standards in Action

ISO International Standards provide practical tools for tackling many of today’s global challenges. In the following sections you can learn about how International Standards work in the real world, and the benefits they bring to business, society and the environment.


Click here to access ISO's annual reports.

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Click here for ISO in figures.

ISO in brief

A four-page introduction to the ISO standardization system, the ISO system's output, ISO's partners and ISO's path forward.

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