International Identifier for serials
and other continuing resources, in the electronic and print world

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ISSN, the major principles

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An ISSN, for which media? When, how and in which case should you apply for an ISSN? Here is what you should know before applying for an ISSN for your publication.

  • ISSN, the basic rule
  • Applying for an ISSN
  • Applying for multiple ISSN
  • Changing ISSN
  • Special cases

ISSN, the basic rule

The ISSN identifies the publication as such, in reference to its title and its medium.
As such, you will always have the same ISSN for all:

  • issues of a periodical,
  • issues of a magazine,
  • CD-Roms in a series, etc.

Applying for an ISSN

The ISSN National Centres assign ISSN to the publications issued by the publishers located in their own countries.

If a country does not have an ISSN National Centre, the ISSN International Centre assigns the ISSN.

The publisher is asked to attach certain information and supporting documents to its application (see details).

An application for an ISSN can be submitted up to 3 months before a publication is released, if the information and documents provided demonstrate that the project is sufficiently advanced. Please note that the assigned ISSN is only duly registered in the ISSN International Register once the first issue is received.

This rule applies only to print and CD-ROM publications.

Online ressources are usually not ISSN assigned ahead of publication.

Furthermore, and regarding scholarly open access publications, 5 articles are considered as a minimum for making a complete issue.

Applying for multiple ISSN

When the same publication is published:

  • on different media (e.g.; print version and online version), or
  • in different languages (e.g.; French edition and English edition),

applications must be submitted for distinct ISSNs for each medium or each linguistic edition.

Changing ISSN

A new ISSN must be applied for in the following 2 cases:

  • the publication’s medium changes (e.g.; a print magazine becomes an online magazine), or
  • the publication’s title changes.

Other changes such as:

  • change of publisher,
  • change of publication location,
  • change of frequency,
  • change of editorial policy,
  • etc.

do not result in a change of ISSN.

Special cases

In case:

  • the publication merges with other titles,
  • supplements are published,
  • other editions are launched,
  • etc.

consult with your ISSN National Centre, which will determine whether specific ISSNs should be assigned.