Developing ISO standards

At the outset, each ISO deliverable is assigned to a standards development track. This track determines the timeframe of the project as it passes through the various stages to publication. We’ve developed a diagram that explains the four different development tracks.

Whichever track is chosen, the development process for ISO standards follows defined stages. These stages, and the main resources required at each stage, are shown in the blue box.

To understand the stages in full detail, visit our page on international harmonized stage codes.

For more information, contact your technical programme manager or send an e-mail to tcsupport@iso.org.

Stages and resources for standards development

* = obligatory stage

Proposal stage (10)

This first step is to confirm that a new International Standard in the subject area is really needed. (See the Global relevance policy.) A new work item proposal (NWIP) is submitted to the committee for vote using Form 4. The electronic balloting portal shall be used for the vote.

The person being nominated as project leader is named on the Form.

If there are possible complications around copyright, patents or conformity assessment they should be raised at this early stage.

This stage can be skipped for revisions and amendments to ISO standards that are already published (as long as the scope does not change).


Resources for Stage 10

Preparatory stage (20)

Usually a working group (WG) is set up by the parent committee to prepare the working draft (WD). The WG is made up of experts and a Convenor (usually the Project leader).

During this stage, experts continue to look out for issues around copyright, patents and conformity assessment.

Successive WDs can be circulated until the experts are satisfied that they have developed the best solution they can. The draft is then forwarded to the WG's parent committee who will decide which stage to go to next (Committee stage or Enquiry stage).

The ISO/TC platform can be used for sharing documents at this and other stages of standards development.

For tips on writing standards see our new document How to Write Standards.


Resources for Stage 20

Committee stage (30)

This stage is optional. For guidance on when it can be skipped see Annex SS of the ISO/IEC Directives Part 1.

During this stage the draft from the working group is shared with the members of the parent committee.

If the committee uses this stage, the committee draft (CD) is circulated to the members of the committee who then comment and vote using the Electronic Balloting Portal. Successive CDs can be circulated until consensus is reached on the technical content.


Resources for Stage 30

Enquiry stage (40)

The Draft International Standard (DIS) is submitted to ISO Central Secretariat by the committee secretary. It is then circulated to all ISO members who then have 12 weeks to vote and comment on it. (The submission interface should be used to submit the draft).

The DIS is approved if a two-thirds of the P-members of the TC/SC are in favor and not more than one-quarter of the total number of votes cast are negative

If the DIS is approved and no technical changes are introduced in the draft, the project goes straight to publication. However, if technical changes are introduced, FDIS stage is mandatory.

See the ISO/IEC Directives Part 1, 2.6.3 and 4 for more information.


Resources for Stage 40

Approval stage (50)

This stage will be automatically skipped if the DIS has been approved and no technical changes are introduced

However, if the draft incorporates technical changes following comments at the DIS stage (even if the DIS has been approved) the FDIS stage becomes mandatory. (See the ISO/IEC Directives Part 1, 2.6.4 for more information.)

If this stage is used, the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) is submitted to ISO/Central Secretariat (ISO/CS) by the committee secretary. The FDIS is then circulated to all ISO member for an 8 week  vote (The Submission Interface should be used when sending the draft to ISO/CS).

The standard is approved if a two-thirds majority of the P-members of the TC/SC is in favor and not more than one-quarter of the total number of votes cast are negative. (See the ISO/IEC Directives Part 1, 2.7 for more information.)


Resources for Stage 50

Publication stage (60)

At this stage the secretary submits the final document for publication through the Submission Interface. But if the standard has passed through the Approval stage, the secretary may submit the project leader’s responses to member body comments on the FDIS.

Only editorial corrections are made to the final text. It is published by the ISO Central Secretariat as an International Standard.

Committee secretaries and project leaders get a two-week sign off period before the standard is published


Resources for Stage 60