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What is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)?


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) creates and publishes a wide range of global technical, industrial and commercial standards. 

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, ISO members represent the standardisation bodies of 167 countries. Individuals and companies cannot become ISO members.

The organisation began when 65 delegates from 25 countries met in London in 1946 to discuss the future of international standardisation. The following year, ISO was formed with 67 groups of experts. 

ISO members and principals meet every year at the General Assembly. The organisation is governed by the ISO Council, which meets three times a year and reports to the General Assembly.

Understanding ISO

ISO standards span a wide range of activities, including product creation, process management, service delivery and the provision of resources.

The body has developed more than 24,194 international standards in 97 fields, including electronics, metrology, railway engineering, food technology and the clothing industry. The ISO publishes its standards in catalogues.  

What are the benefits of ISO?

The ISO helps to facilitate global trade by establishing uniform international standards. The ISO means that consumers can be confident that they’re buying safe and reliable goods and services. 

The certification process is carried out by external bodies. ISO cannot certify a company or an organisation. 

The certification bodies use several standards issued by the ISO’s Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO).

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