Guidelines for the Implementation of 13-digit ISMNs

We hope that you are aware of the current revision of the ISMN standard (ISO 10957) and the important changes that will be made in the number structure of the ISMN system. The Guidelines for the Implementation of 13-digit ISMNs are intended to provide you with information and advice concerning the changes in the number and the effect that this will have on notated music sector systems.

Major changes to be aware of, and addressed by the guidelines, include the following: 

  1. The ISMN will change from 10 to 13 digits on 1 January 2008
  2. There will be a transition period of several months, but by end of 2008 all publications of notations should be listed with the 13-digit number
  3. Existing ISMNs will be prefixed by 979-
  4. The leading M- of the 10-digit ISMNs will be replaced by 0- (zero)
  5. The resulting 13-digit number will be identical with the EAN-13 number that is currently encoded in the bar code
  6. Bar codes will carry the 13-digit ISMN with hyphenation above the barcode and the EAN-13, the identical number without hyphens or spaces, below the bar code


We hope that you will find the guidelines helpful and encourage you to distribute them as widely as possible. Any queries, requests for further guidance or suggestions for additional material should be addressed to the International ISMN Agency, E-mail: