ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an independent, non-governmental membership organization and the world's largest developer of voluntary International Standards.
We are made up of our 163 member countries who are the national standards bodies around the world, with a Central Secretariat that is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Learn more about our structure and how we are governed.
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 more than 19,500 international standards covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare. ISO International Standards impact everyone, everywhere.
ISO in 2020
Our Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 is under development. Do you want to get involved or make a comment? Our consultation document (for members) and stakeholder consultation guide (for non-members) contain information about the strategy and a number of questions on what ISO should be doing in the future.
You can provide feedback on the questions to the ISO member in your country, or, if you are in international or regional organization, contact ISO directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 organization, 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 163 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 on our website.
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.
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.