Where to get an ISBN

In most cases, publishers apply to the national ISBN agency that operates where they are based (e.g, if you are a publisher based in Germany, you would apply to the ISBN Agency of Germany), but there are a small number of exceptions where extra considerations apply:

  • Belgium

    Publishers should contact the national agency that serves the specific part of Belgium where they are located, based on language of that area – either French speaking, Flemish speaking or German speaking.

  • Canada

    Publishers should contact either the English speaking or French speaking agency in Canada according to their location and the most usual language of their books or of their staff.

  • Suriname

    In June 2017, there was a significant change to the ISBN process in Suriname. Publishers in Suriname will no longer contact Interfund Group, which ran the ISBN agency based there. Instead, publishers located in Suriname should contact the International ISBN Agency directly.

  • Multi-national NGOs

    NGOs that have offices in multiple countries should contact the International ISBN Agency for advice about obtaining ISBNs. ISBNs will be assigned and registered to the location of their headquarters.

  • Regional ISBN agencies for the Caribbean and South Pacific

    Some ISBN agencies serve more than one country in a region – such as CARICOM (serving the countries of the Caribbean Community) and South Pacific (serving the island territories of South Pacific)

  • Territories and dependencies of the United Kingdom

    The United Kingdom & Ireland ISBN Agency assigns ISBNs to publishers based anywhere in the British Isles, including Orkney, Shetland, Isle of Man IM, Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.

    It also assigns ISBNs to publishers based in most of the 14 British Overseas Territories: Anguilla AI, Falkland Islands FK, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands GS, British Indian Ocean Territory IO, Cayman Islands KY, Montserrat MS, Pitcairn PN, St. Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha SH, Turks and Caicos Islands TC, British Virgin Islands VG and Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

    The exceptions are Bermuda and Gibraltar, which have their own national ISBN agencies.

  • Francophone and Lusophone countries

    In some cases where there is no ISBN agency located in a specific country, publishers in the respective country or territorymay contact another national agency according to language. The agencies of France and Portugal will assign ISBNs to publishers based in certain other countries. For example, publishers based in Senegal should contact the ISBN Agency of France for ISBNs. For details of the countries covered by these arrangements click here.

  • Countries that do not currently have a national ISBN agency and are not part of any other defined regional or other group 

    Contact the International ISBN Agency for advice. It may be that we have already made informal arrangements with an existing national ISBN Agency to provide ISBNs on behalf of your country. We also recommend that you contact the ministry of culture and associations responsible in your country for publishers or the book trade to inform them of the desire for the implementation of the ISBN system in your country.