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International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a system of numerical identification for books, pamphlets, educational kits, microforms, CD-ROM and other digital and electronic publications. Assigning a unique number to each published title, provides that title with its own, unduplicated, internationally recognized identifier. 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 Serial Number (ISSN).

Using data collected in the assignment of ISBNs, Library and Archives Canada produces the Canadian ISBN Publishers' Directory, as part of its commitment to serving the Canadian Book trade.

Obtaining an ISBN

The ISBN Application Form is available on line. For questions concerning the application form, please consult the ISBN Application Form Explanatory Notes. For publishers who have already registered with the ISBN Agency and are requesting the next available number, please provide your Publisher Prefix, Your Publisher Name and the title(s) of the publication, when contacting the agency at isbn@lac-bac.gc.ca.

ISBNs are free to Canadian publishers and take 10 days to receive.

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 isbn@banq.qc.ca

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 changes 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: Preparing for the 13-digit ISBN.

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
E-mail: isbn@lac-bac.gc.ca