About ISO

ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 162 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.

Our Central Secretariat 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 20 500 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

Contact ISO

International Organization for Standardization
ISO Central Secretariat
Chemin de Blandonnet 8
CP 401
1214 Vernier, Geneva

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

Visiting ISO

Want to know more about ISO and standards?

Follow us on:

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.

ISO in 2020

Our Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 has recently been finalised.

ISO Strategy 2016-2020

The ISO Strategy outlines our priorities for the next five years. It provides guidance and strategic direction, helping us to respond to a future where constant change will require us to continually improve the ISO system. It is a living document, and strategic directions are adjusted as required.

ISO's Strategic Plan

To learn more about our current priorities see our 2011-2015 Strategic Plan.

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 organization, ISO, officially began operations.

Since then,we have published over 20 500  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.

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.

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

Read more about the history of ISO in the book Friendship 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.

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

Learn about how International Standards work in the real world, and the benefits they bring to business, society and the environment.

ISO in brief

An introduction to the ISO standardization system, the ISO system's output, ISO's partners and ISO's path forward.