International Standard Music Numbers (ISMN)

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About ISMNs

The International Standard Music Number (ISMN) is an internationally recognized 13-digit code that uniquely identifies a musical score or sheet music in print or digital format. ISMNs are used in the industry for the sale and distribution of notated music. Booksellers, libraries and the music industry use ISMNs to track or process publications.

Eligible Canadian publishers may request numbers from ISMN Canada for free. Use the same ISMN in each country where you sell your publications.

Parts of an ISMN

The number starts with "ISMN" followed by a space. The number consists of 13 digits, appearing as 4 groups of variable length separated by a hyphen. The parts of an ISMN are as follows in this order:

  • EAN (European article number) product code
  • publisher prefix (a number that identifies a particular publisher)
  • title identifier (a number that identifies a particular title or edition issued by the publisher)
  • check digit (a single digit that verifies that the previous digits are correct by using an algorithm)



ISMNs and copyright

Having an ISMN does not mean that you have registered copyright. Contact the Canadian Intellectual Property Office for information about copyright.

Obtaining barcodes

Contact your printer or graphic designer, or visit the GS1 Canada website for more information.

Eligible publishers

ISMNs are free to Canadian publishers and self-publishers that:

  • make a publication available in Canada
  • publish from an official office of business within Canada (we encourage you to include the place of publication or production in your work)
  • have at least 75% of their employees based in Canada
  • are authorized to reproduce publications or productions and control the content

Eligible items

ISMNs are used for published notated music in print or digital formats, such as:

  • scores (including miniature/study and vocal scores)
  • individual parts and sets of parts
  • music anthologies and pop folios
  • sheet music
  • song books

These items are not eligible for ISMNs:

  • books or periodicals about music
  • stand-alone sound or video recordings
  • other media that accompany printed music (such as CDs)

Apply for an ISMN

  • Contact ISMN Canada to get a form that you complete and return
  • Request an ISMN for:
    • each format or change in edition (such as softcover, hardcover, online, new edition, revised edition, colour version, black-and-white version)
    • individual parts available separately or as a set
  • You may be asked to provide more information or documentation as ISMN Canada must meet international standards and guidelines
  • You will get your ISMNs within 10 working days after we receive your request

Contact ISMN Canada

Mailing address

ISMN Canada
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON
K1A 0N4

Telephone (Toll-free in Canada and the U.S.)
1-866-578-7777 (select 1, 7, 3)