ISO standards are used around the world and cover almost every product and process imaginable. That means there's a lot to know about who we are, and what we do. If you haven't found the answers you're looking for within our site, then hopefully the list below will help you. If you still can't find the answer to your question, then please don't hesitate to contact us.
Conformity assessment involves a set of processes that show your product, service or system meets the requirements of a standard. It's important to note that ISO doesn’t provide certification or conformity assessment. Find out more about conformity assessment.
Working through the ISO community, it is the people who need the standards that decide. A particular industry or business sector can communicate its need for a standard to their national ISO member; the idea is then proposed to ISO as a whole.
If accepted, the project is assigned to an existing technical committee. Proposals may also be made to establish technical committees to cover new scopes of technological activity. In order to use resources most efficiently, ISO only develops new standards for which there are clear market requirements.
Developing, publishing and maintaining ISO standards incurs a cost, and revenues from selling them helps ISO and its members to cover an important part of these costs. Charging for standards allows us to ensure that they are developed in an impartial environment and therefore meet the needs of all stakeholders for which the standard is relevant. This is essential if standards are to remain effective in the real world. ISO and its members offer a number of options to access ISO standards. Contact us or your national ISO member to find the best option for your needs.
ISO is a non-governmental organization (NGO). Therefore, unlike the United Nations, the national members of ISO are not delegations of the governments of those countries. Our national members are the national standards bodies, or equivalent organizations, in their country. Some of them are wholly private sector in origin, others are private sector organizations but have a special mandate from their governments on matters related to standardization, and others are part of the governmental framework of their countries. In addition, government experts often participate in ISO's standards' development work. So, while ISO is an NGO, it receives input from the public sector as it does from the private sector.
ISO's national members pay subscriptions that meet the operational cost of ISO's Central Secretariat. The dues paid by each member are calculated as a proportion of their country's Gross National Product and trade figures. Another source of revenue is the sale of standards, which contributes more than a third of the budget.
The operations of the Central Secretariat in Geneva represent only about one fifth of the cost of our international standardizing activities . The remaining costs are borne by the organizations which manage the specific projects or loan experts to participate in the technical work. These organizations are, in effect, subsidizing the technical work by paying the travel costs of the experts and allowing them time to work on their ISO assignments. Such organizations and individuals make an essential and highly valued contribution to standardization.
The General Assembly is the ultimate authority of the Organization. It is composed of ISO members, and considers any matter submitted by the ISO Council.
The proposals put to the General Assembly are developed by the Council, which is drawn from the ISO membership. The Council, which resembles the board of directors of a business organization, meets three times per year to discuss key matters relating to ISO strategy and policy, financial as well as operational and statutory matters. ISO Council membership rotates regularly to ensure that it is representative.
Operations are managed by a Secretary-General, who is appointed for five-year term. The Secretary-General reports to a President who is a prominent figure in standardization or in business, elected for two, or three years. To learn more, see our section on structure and governance.
While we work together with United Nations (UN) specialized agencies on some standardization projects, ISO is an independent not-for-profit organization and is not part of the UN.
No: neither private individuals nor companies can join ISO as a member.
Membership of ISO is only open to national standards institutes. In some cases, similar organizations, most representative of standardization in their country, have become members. It is worth noting that there is only ever one ISO member per country.
It's worth bearing in mind that a company or organization that is certified to an ISO standard is not an ISO member.
While individuals and companies cannot become members, they can get involved in our work by contributing to the development of standards as part of technical committees. For more information on how to get involved, get in touch with the ISO member for your country.