The different types of ISO publications
While ISO is best known for its International Standards, it has other deliverables. Below are the types of deliverables developed by ISO.
- ISO Standards
- ISO/TS Technical Specifications
- ISO/TR Technical Reports
- ISO/PAS Publicly Available Specifications
- IWA International Workshop Agreements
- ISO Guides
An International Standard provides rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or for their results, aimed at achieving the optimum degree of order in a given context. It can take many forms. Apart from product standards, other examples include: test methods, codes of practice, guideline standards and management systems standards.
A Technical Specification addresses work still under technical development, or where it is believed that there will be a future, but not immediate, possibility of agreement on an International Standard. A Technical Specification is published for immediate use, but it also provides a means to obtain feedback. The aim is that it will eventually be transformed and republished as an International Standard.
A Technical Report contains information of a different kind from that of the previous two publications. It may include data obtained from a survey, for example, or from an informative report, or information of the perceived “ state of the art ”.
An International Workshop Agreement is a document developed outside the normal ISO committee system to enable market players to negotiate in an “open workshop” environment. International Workshop Agreements are typically administratively supported by a member body. The published agreement includes an indication of the participating organizations involved in its development. An International Workshop Agreement has a maximum lifespan of six years, after which it can be either transformed into another ISO deliverable or is automatically withdrawn.
Guides are just that. They help readers understand more about the main areas where standards add value. Some Guides talk about how, and why, ISO standards can make it work better, safer, and more efficiently. Full list of Guides available in the ISO Catalogue.
One of the strengths of ISO standards is that they are created by the people that need them. Industry experts drive all aspects of the standard development process, from deciding whether a new standard is needed to defining all the technical content. Getting involved in this process can bring significant advantages to your business. For example by:
- Giving early access to information that could shape the market in the future
- Giving your company a voice in the development of standards
- Helping to keep market access open.
Getting involved in standards development brings your concerns and needs to bear on a process that will affect you in the future.
Standards are developed by groups of experts called technical committees. These experts are put forward by ISO’s national members. If you are interested in getting involved, contact your national member. Contact details can be found in the list of national members.
ISO International Standards touch everyone. From enabling you to use your bank card overseas to ensuring your child’s toys don’t have sharp edges, they are used everywhere. Followed by companies all over the world, ISO standards provide specifications to ensure products and services work the way you expect them to.
What’s more, they help to improve customer satisfaction. In a world where the customer’s voice is increasingly prominent, this is an essential business requirement.
That’s why consumer representatives play an integral role in the development of standards.
Consumer standards are developed with the input of a wide range of people – not just standards experts. By getting involved you can help ensure products and services meet your expectations.
ISO International Standards help businesses of any size and sector reduce costs, increase productivity and access new markets.
For small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), standards can help to:
- Build customer confidence that your products are safe and reliable
- Meet regulation requirements, at a lower cost
- Reduce costs across all aspects of your business
- Gain market access across the world
ISO was founded with the idea of answering a fundamental question: “what’s the best way of doing this?”
It started with the obvious things like weights and measures, and over the last 50 years has developed into a family of standards that cover everything from the shoes we stand in, to the Wi-Fi networks that connect us invisibly to each other.
Addressing all these and more, International Standards mean that consumers can have confidence that their products are safe, reliable and of good quality. ISO’s standards on road safety, toy safety and secure medical packaging are just a few of those that help make the world a safer place.
Regulators and governments count on ISO standards to help develop better regulation, knowing they have a sound basis thanks to the involvement of globally-established experts.
To find out more about how ISO’s 21971 standards touch almost all aspects of daily life, and work for businesses large and small, you can see standards in action. With International Standards on air, water and soil quality, on emissions of gases and radiation, and environmental aspects of products, they protect the health of the planet and people, beyond bringing economic benefits.
Our members are the foremost standards organizations in their countries and there is only one member per country. Each member represents ISO in its country. Individuals or companies cannot become ISO members. Please see the list below for information about the ISO member in your country.
There are three member categories. Each enjoys a different level of access and influence over the ISO system. This helps us to be inclusive while also recognizing the different needs and capacity of each national standards body.
Full members (or member bodies) influence ISO standards development and strategy by participating and voting in ISO technical and policy meetings. Full members sell and adopt ISO International Standards nationally.
Correspondent members observe the development of ISO standards and strategy by attending ISO technical and policy meetings as observers. Correspondent members can sell and adopt ISO International Standards nationally.
Subscriber members keep up to date on ISO’s work but cannot participate in it. They do not sell or adopt ISO International Standards nationally.
Consistent, transparent, targeted. ISO standards have a lot in common with the principles of better regulation.
Developed through the consensus of globally established experts, regulators and governments count on ISO standards to help develop better regulation.
ISO standards provide a strong basis that can be applied in the development of national and international regulation.
Not only do they help save time, they are essential tools forreducing barriers to international trade.
- Open up world trade – ISO – along with IEC and ITU – have a strategic partnership with WTO. The WTO’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade recognizes the contribution international standards can make towards improving the efficiency of production and international trade, and their key role in the harmonization of regulations;
- Stimulate solutions to national and international issues such as disaster mitigation and recovery, efficient energy resources and international trade;
- Save money, through providing much of the technical detail and safety requirements needed for effective policy;
- Provide solutions to policy issues that represent a wide range of views and expertise and have the buy-in of many stakeholder groups.
In addition, ISO standards are developed with the involvement of governments worldwide, ensuring the needs of policy makers are taken into account.
Shared success is about successfully sharing the best ideas and methods.
That’s why we’ve developed 21971 International Standards which define essential requirements to make products and services that work.
Of course not everything needs to be standardized. International Standards only address shared challenges and the things that matter most.
Certification can be a useful tool to add credibility, by demonstrating that your product or service meets the expectations of your customers. For some industries, certification is a legal or contractual requirement.
At ISO, we develop International Standards, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, but we are not involved in their certification, and do not issue certificates. This is performed by external certification bodies, thus a company or organization cannot be certified by ISO.
However ISO’s Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO) has produced a number of standards related to the certification process, which are used by certification bodies.
When choosing a certification body, you should:
- Evaluate several certification bodies.
- Check if the certification body uses the relevant CASCO standard
- Check if it is accredited. Accreditation is not compulsory, and non-accreditation does not necessarily mean it is not reputable, but it does provide independent confirmation of competence. To find an accredited certification body, contact the national accreditation body in your country or visit the International Accreditation Forum.
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.
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 21971 International Standards and related documents, covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare. ISO International Standards impact everyone, everywhere.
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 21971 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and manufacturing.
Today we have members from 162 countries and 781 technical bodies to take care of standards development. More than 135 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.
1. ISO standards respond to a need in the market
ISO does not decide when to develop a new standard, but responds to a request from industry or other stakeholders such as consumer groups. Typically, an industry sector or group communicates the need for a standard to its national member who then contacts ISO. Contact details for national members can be found in the list of members.
2. ISO standards are based on global expert opinion
ISO standards are developed by groups of experts from all over the world, that are part of larger groups called technical committees. These experts negotiate all aspects of the standard, including its scope, key definitions and content. Details can be found in the list of technical committees.
3. ISO standards are developed through a multi-stakeholder process
The technical committees are made up of experts from the relevant industry, but also from consumer associations, academia, NGOs and government. Read more about who develops ISO standards.
4. ISO standards are based on a consensus
Developing ISO standards is a consensus-based approach and comments from all stakeholders are taken into account.
What is CASCO?
CASCO is the ISO committee that works on issues relating to conformity assessment. CASCO develops policy and publishes standards related to conformity assessment; it does not perform conformity assessment activities. Membership to CASCO is open to full and correspondent members.