Feature Image: ISBNs, ISSNs, and ISMNs


International Standard Numbers are a publication's fingerprint, a world-wide identifier that helps publishers, suppliers, and libraries locate, order, and track published material.

Who allocates International Standard Numbers?

The National Library of New Zealand is responsible for allocating International Standard Numbers for publications — books, serials and music — to publishers who are publishing in New Zealand.

A number is issued for each format of a publication, such as paperback, hardback, cd-rom, or online pdf.

Please allow 3 working days for us to supply your number.

Publishers should apply for ISBNs

It is always the publisher of the book who should apply for the ISBN. For the purposes of ISBN, the publisher is the group, organisation, company or individual who is paying for the production of the publication. It can be the author of the book if the author has chosen to publish their book themselves, essentially Self-publishing.

It’s not something that your printer or designer or digital producer should do for you. If you are unsure if you are the publisher please contact us for advice on 04 474 3074.

ISBN’s are for ‘published’ items

One of the requirements for an ISBN is that the publication will be made available to the public for sale and distribution, therefore ‘published’.

If you decide you will not be making your publication available to the public for sale and distribution, please advise so we can update the ISBN database stating your publication was ‘not published’.

ISBNs — International Standard Books Numbers

An ISBN is 13 digit unique identifier number assigned to books and other print, electronic, or multimedia publications.

It is used for printed books and pamphlets containing more than four pages of text, maps, e-books, pdfs, Braille publications and audio books.

Journals, serials, and newspapers use International Standard Serial numbers instead – see below.

Ineligible products include advertising matter, websites, emails, games, art prints and posters, personal documents, stationery and customisable print on demand products.

If you are unsure whether your product qualifies for an ISBN contact us, email ISBN@dia.govt.nz or phone 04 474 3074

Publishers issuing large numbers of publications can be given a block of numbers, which they use as required.

Apply for an ISBN

ISSNs — International Standard Serial Numbers

An ISSN is an 8 digit unique identifier number assigned to the title of a periodic publication issued in successive parts, identified by a number and/or a date, linked by a common title, and intended to continue indefinitely.

It is used for magazines, newspapers, journals, annual publications (for example yearbooks and directories), and monographs-in-series (publications that have an individual title and a common title that links them together in a series).

Serials can be published in physical or electronic formats.

Serials do not include loose-leaf publications intended to be updated, such as manuals where the instructions are frequently updated.

Apply for an ISSN

ISMNs — International Standard Music Numbers

A unique identifier number applied to printed music, such as a score or a part.

Apply for an ISMN

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions about the International Standard Numbers.


Email — isbn@dia.govt.nz
Phone — 04 474 3074


Email — issn@dia.govt.nz
Phone — 04 474 3090