ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 164 national standards bodies.
Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.
What are standards?
International Standards make things work. They give world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency. They are instrumental in facilitating international trade.
ISO has published 22859 International Standards and related documents, covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare. ISO International Standards impact everyone, everywhere.
Learn more about standards and what they can do for you
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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.
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’. On 23 February 1947 the new organization, ISO, officially began operations.
Since then, we have published over 22859 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and manufacturing.
Today we have members from 164 countries and 779 technical committees and subcommittees to take care of standards development. More than 160 people work full time for ISO’s Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.
To find out more about the history of ISO, see our timeline.
It's all in the 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, we are always ISO.
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.
Learn about how International Standards work in the real world, address shared challenges and the things that matter most for people, the environment and business.
The question is, what matters to you?