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 19 500 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.
International Organization for Standardization
ISO Central Secretariat
1, ch. de la Voie-Creuse
CH-1211 Geneva 20
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.
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
ISO is an independent, non-governmental organization made up of members from the national standards bodies of 162 countries. We have a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system.
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 19 500 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and manufacturing.
Today we have members from 162 countries and 3 368 technical bodies to take care of standard development. More than 150 people work full time for ISO’s Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.
To find out more about the history of ISO, see our timeline.
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.
Read more about the history of ISO in the bookFriendship Among Equals published to mark ISO’s 50th anniversary.
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.
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.