Apply for an International Standard Book Number and catalogue number

From Publishing and Depository Services Directorate

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The Publishing and Depository Services Directorate assigns International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) to book-like government publications. The acronym ISBN is internationally recognized. Publishers, booksellers and libraries around the world use the ISBN to identify, locate, track and manage publications.

We also assign catalogue numbers to most government publications.

Who is eligible for this service

Most departments and agencies must get ISBNs and catalogue numbers to identify their book or book-like publications. For more information on Government of Canada publishing requirements, refer to:

Who is ineligible for this service

If you are a Canadian publisher looking to obtain an ISBN, visit ISBN Canada.

If you are a Canadian publisher with a French-only publication, visit ISBN allocation at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

Serial or periodical publications

If you publish a product with the same title in successive issues and at regular intervals, you are publishing a serial or periodical. These publications need an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN).

If you publish a serial or periodical less frequently than every 3 years, you need an ISBN and a catalogue number.

Request an ISSN from ISSN Canada

Government publications that require an International Standard Book Number and catalogue number

Different formats and editions of publications are assigned unique ISBNs and catalogue numbers. For example, a publication issued in print, PDF and DVD would have a distinct ISBN and catalogue number for each format. Each language edition also gets a unique publication number (for example, distinct numbers for English, French and Spanish versions). New editions and major revisions also warrant distinct ISBNs and catalogue numbers.

Examples of publications that require an ISBN and catalogue numbers:

  • corporate reports that are issued less frequently than every 3 years
  • research reports, audit reports, working group reports, investigatory reports and other types of report
  • pamphlets, manuals, brochures and fact sheets of educational and/or informational purposes
  • agreements, treaties, international conventions and protocols
  • topographical maps
  • policy documents, planning documents, conference proceedings, regulations

More information about this service

The ISBN identifies a monographic publication, a book or book-like product that is complete in one part or intended to be completed within a finite number of parts. ISBNs were once 10 digits in length, but since January 1, 2007, they consist of 13 digits.

Every time there is a change in format or a change in edition, you need to apply for a new ISBN. Each different e-book format (EPUB, MOBI, Kobo and PDF) also requires a distinct ISBN.

A Government of Canada catalogue number is a unique number that identifies publications produced by the federal government. Reprinted publications do not need a new catalogue number. However, new editions and revised publications require new catalogue numbers.

We do not assign ISBNs or catalogue numbers to HTML or XML publications.

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