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International Standard Numbers (ISNs)

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About ISBN

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a system of numerical identification for books, pamphlets, educational kits, microforms, CD-ROMs and other digital and electronic publications. Assigning a unique number to each published title provides that title with its own, unduplicated, internationally recognized identifier. Each different format of an electronic publication (e.g. „.lit", „.pdf", „.html", „.pdb") that is published and made separately available shall be given a separate ISBN. Publishers, booksellers, libraries and others in the book industry use ISBN in order to expedite the handling and retrieval of publications.

Please note that periodicals, magazines, journals and other types of serial publications are not eligible for ISBN. They are covered by a separate identification system called International Standard Serial Number (ISSN).

Obtaining an ISBN

To obtain an ISBN number, publishers must apply via the Internet using the Canadian ISBN Service System (CISS). If you do not have Internet access, you can still obtain an ISBN by calling 1-866-578-7777 (select 1 + 7 + 3).

Publishing and Depository Services (Public Works and Government Services Canada) has delegated authority to assign ISBNs to publications produced by Canadian government organizations. Applications for ISBNs may be submitted online by departmental publishing staff at:

ISBNs are free to Canadian publishers and are issued in 10 days.

French Language Publishers

If you are a French language publisher located in Quebec or outside of Quebec, you may wish to have an ISBN with a French language designator "2". To do so, please contact

Bar Codes

The Canadian ISBN Agency does not provide barcodes. We advise publishers to speak with their printer about barcodes, or to search their local yellow pages for barcode providers. Please note, you will need an ISBN to obtain a barcode.

The 13-Digit ISBN

The ISBN changed from a 10 to 13 digit number as of January 1, 2007. All sectors of the book trade and libraries are affected by this change. For details, please consult: Frequently Asked Questions.

Contact Us

For further information, contact:
Canadian ISBN Agency
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON  K1A 0N4

Telephone: 819-994-6872
Library and Archives Canada: 1-866-578-7777 (Select 1+7+3)
(Toll free in Canada and the US)
Fax: 819-997-7517

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