Assignment of ISSN

The following are the terms and conditions for the assignment of ISSN for UK serial publications.

For the purposes of these terms and conditions:

“ISSN UK Centre” shall mean the centre, established and operated by the British Library, and coordinated by the ISSN International Centre, which is responsible for assigning International Standard Serial Numbers (ISSN) in the United Kingdom.

“You” and “Your” shall mean you, whether an organisation or an individual, applying for an ISSN. “We” “Us” and “Our” shall mean the ISSN UK Centre.

“Working Day” shall mean a day (other than Saturday or Sunday) on which the British Library, Boston Spa is open for business.

The ISSN UK Centre aims to assign ISSN to appropriate material as speedily as possible. However, our resources are limited and we can be very busy at times so we do ask that you allow sufficient notice for your application - we suggest at least one month before the ISSN is required. In some cases ISSN cannot be assigned in response to an initial application - further information or copies may be required, or enquiries may have to be made of other ISSN centres, which will take time.

1. Our commitment

1.1 On request and subject to receiving all necessary documentation and information from You, We will assign ISSN to any title which falls within Our remit. Time frames vary with office staffing and workloads but We shall use all reasonable endeavours to respond to communications (not necessarily assign ISSN) within the following timescales:

1.1.1 Requests for ISSN submitted in advance of publication of the first issue of the serial - 5 Working Days; and

1.1.2 Requests for ISSN in relation to published serials - 10 Working Days.

1.2 We reserve the right not to process requests made by means other than the forms provided or if incomplete or inaccurate information has been provided.

1.3 We are happy to respond to queries about the ISSN system, and provide information from Our records in response to requests, but We reserve the right to limit the amount of time spent on such enquiries.

1.4 We operate a telephone enquiry service between the hours of 10am and 12 noon, excluding weekends and holidays. This service deals with queries, and requests for information; ISSN assignments cannot be made over the telephone.

2. The ISSN UK service

2.1 We are responsible for assigning ISSN to serials published in the UK, including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, and a number of UK dependencies.

A serial is defined as :

A continuing resource in any medium, issued in a succession of discrete parts [and having a common title], usually bearing numbering, that has no predetermined conclusion. Examples of serials include journals, magazines, electronic journals, ongoing directories, annual reports, newspapers, and monographic series.

The serial should contain a statement indicating the name of the publisher and, at the very least, the country of publication.

2.2 It is implicit in the definition of a serial that the work should have some form of artistic or intellectual content. In print format, this usually means textual or graphical information. In electronic form, this could also include multi-media content.

2.3 To qualify for an ISSN a serial should be of national or international interest i.e. of general interest to readers outside the locality or organisation in which it is produced or published.

2.4 A separate ISSN will be assigned to each physical format of a title e.g. print, CD-ROM, online. However, when a format is merely a reproduction of an existing work in another format (i.e. microfiche versions of print titles) the original ISSN should be used.

2.5 Where a serial is available in a number of editions (i.e. different versions published simultaneously), a separate ISSN will be assigned to each edition. For example, regional editions of a newspaper or magazine with significantly different content, or different language editions of a journal would each be assigned separate numbers. A statement of edition should appear prominently on the serial. Differences which are non-significant include such things as brief editorials, decorative illustrations, advertisements, size, etc.

2.6 Some items might carry another standard number, such as an ISBN or ISMN; this does not prevent the title also being assigned an ISSN, provided that the usual criteria are met.

2.7 The following fall outside the remit of the ISSN UK Centre:

2.7.1 One off publications, including special issues of serial titles;

2.7.2 Serials published outside the UK or its dependencies, with the exception of certain multi-national publishers;

2.7.3 Serials which are not intended for general circulation, such as internal newsletters;

2.7.4 Calendars and diaries which do not have significant editorial content;

2.7.5 Posters without significant editorial content;

2.7.6 Titles of magazine packs;

2.7.7 Assignment of more than one ISSN to a title, for example to differentiate between regional prices or free gifts, or for test marketing.

3. Electronic serials

3.1 We will assign ISSN to electronic serials provided that they meet the criteria set out above. We will assign an ISSN to each carrier format of an electronic serial; this means that We will assign an ISSN to the CD-ROM version, and another to the online version. We will not assign separate ISSN to different versions within each carrier format - for example, if a title was published on CD-ROM in both Windows format and Macintosh format, We would only assign one ISSN. E-mail distribution is regarded as a sub-form of online. As online publications can be quite complex, We prefer not to assign an ISSN until the resource has been published.

3.2 We will only assign an ISSN to a resource on the Internet if it falls within the above definition of a serial, and meets the following criteria:

3.2.1 It must contain significant editorial content; we will not assign ISSN to pages which consist solely or predominantly of links;

3.2.2 It must contain a statement indicating the name of the publisher and at the very least the country of publication;

3.2.3 It must be updated regularly, and display a numbering system or date to indicate when it was last updated; and

3.2.4 It must bear a title which will remain consistent when the resource is updated

3.3 We will not assign ISSN to individual or company home pages, including Weblogs.

4. What we require from you

4.1 In order for us to be able to process your ISSN request efficiently, You should proceed as follows:

4.1.1 For forthcoming publications:

You should submit a form (either on the Web at, or a printed version) containing the following information:

Proposed date of publication of first issue
Intended frequency
Links to other titles (eg previous titles, supplements)

Drafts of title page and contents page would be helpful, or a copy of a dummy issue if one has been produced.

It is the responsibility of the person or organisation who requested the ISSN to ensure that We receive a copy of the first issue when it is published, in order to complete Our records. Please note that, for printed publications published in the UK, the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 require that a copy of each issue be deposited with the British Library; further information is available from the Legal Deposit Office (see contact details below).

4.1.2 For existing publications: Please complete a printed form containing the information as listed above, and send it to us along with: for print publications, a copy of a recent issue; or for CD-ROM or diskette, a sample copy, or a copy of the labelling, documentation and packaging.

4.1.3 For on-line publications:, Please use the appropriate box on the form to provide Us with the direct URL and any password needed to access the publication. Alternatively, send Us a printed form along with a printout of the title screen and any other screens giving title or publisher information.

4.2 We are unable to process requests for ISSN until full information has been received and if necessary, a copy of an issue has been provided or access to a copy provided if the serial is published electronically.

4.3 By requesting the assignment of an ISSN, You warrant that the content of your publication is not in breach of UK or French law.

4.4 Please note that the information You provide Us will form the basis of a bibliographic record, which will be made publicly available through the products and publications of both the British Library and the ISSN International Centre, and through other means. The ISSN UK Centre is therefore unable to guarantee the confidentiality of information submitted as part of an ISSN request. We will not be under any obligations of confidentiality in relation to any information You provide Us.

4.5 We reserve the right to refuse to assign further ISSN to individuals or bodies who are deemed to have deliberately provided misleading information, or who have not fulfilled the requirement to provide the Centre with a copy of the first issue of all titles for which ISSN were assigned ahead of publication. We also reserve the right to defer the assignment of an ISSN requested ahead of publication until a copy of the first issue has been received by the Centre.

5. Confidential Information

5.1 For the purposes of these terms and conditions “Confidential Information” means information which is not generally known to the public and/or is generally understood to be confidential or proprietary to the disclosing party, including without limitation information which it may be necessary or appropriate for a party to disclose to any other and will include any financial, technical, operational or business information, in whatever form, which the disclosing party considers proprietary relating to its business dealings.

5.2 You acknowledge that if You, Your employees, representatives and agents become aware of Confidential Information relating to Us, You shall, and procure that Your employees, representatives and agents shall, (i) at all times, keep strictly confidential any of Our Confidential Information and (ii) not use any such Confidential Information save to the extent required to comply with these terms and conditions.

5.3 The obligations of confidentiality provided for in these terms and conditions shall not extend to any information which:

5.3.1 is or shall become generally available to the public otherwise than by reason of breach by the party to which the Confidential Information is disclosed (the “Receiving Party”) of the provisions of this Clause 5;

5.3.2 is subsequently disclosed to the Receiving Party without obligation of confidence by a third party owing no such obligations to the Disclosing Party in respect thereof;

5.3.3 is developed wholly independently by the Receiving Party; or

5.3.4 the Receiving Party is required to disclose by operation of law.

6. Entire Agreement and Dispute Resolution

6.1 These terms and conditions, together with any terms and conditions We have included in any documentation You may have to complete (whether on the web or in printed form) in applying for an ISSN (for example, an application form) shall as may be updated from time to time, constitute the entire agreement between You and Us. In the event of any conflict between these terms and conditions and any terms and conditions on the application forms, these terms and conditions shall prevail.

6.2 These terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English Law. We will attempt in good faith to resolve with You any dispute or claim arising out of or relating to these terms and conditions promptly by negotiation. If the matter is not resolved by negotiation the matter may be referred to mediation in accordance with Centre for Dispute Resolutions (CEDR) Model Mediation Procedures. To initiate mediation either We or You shall give notice in writing (an “ADR Notice”) to the other party, requesting mediation. The mediation will start no later than 28 days after the date of the ADR notice. If the dispute has not been settled by mediation within 3 months from the date of the ADR Notice either party may then commence court proceedings and each party hereby submits to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.

6.3 Any translation of these terms and conditions into a language other than English is solely for the purposes of explaining the terms and conditions of use. You hereby agree that (i) the English language version is the version that governs any transaction under these terms and conditions and (ii) a version in any other language cannot be used to explain or construe any terms, should there be any dispute between You and Us.

7. Warranties and Liability

7.1 You warrant that You have all the necessary rights, power and authority to apply to Us for an ISSN. You hereby agree to indemnify Us, Our employees and representatives in full in respect of any liability, damage, loss or expense (including all reasonable legal costs) incurred, suffered or imposed upon Us as a result of, or in connection with breach or alleged breach of any of these terms and conditions by You.

7.2 Whilst We will use Our best endeavours to meet the timescales for assignment of an ISSN referred to in Clause 1.1, to the fullest extent permitted by law We shall not be liable to You in contract, tort, negligence or otherwise, for any type of loss, damage, costs or expenses of any nature whatsoever that You may incur or suffer as a result of Us not meeting the timescales stipulated in Clause 1.1.

7.3 Nothing in these terms and conditions excludes either party's liability for death, personal injury, fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, or any other liability which cannot be excluded or limited as a matter of applicable law.

8. General

8.1 A failure or delay by a party to exercise any right or remedy provided under this agreement or by law shall not constitute a waiver of that or any other right or remedy, nor shall it preclude or restrict any further exercise of that or any other right or remedy.

8.2 If any provision of this agreement (or part of any provision) is found by any court or other authority of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable, that provision or part-provision shall, to the extent required, be deemed not to form part of the agreement, and the validity and enforceability of the other provisions of the agreement shall not be affected.

8.3 We shall not be liable for any breach of Our obligations hereunder resulting from causes beyond Our reasonable control including but not limited to failure of telecommunications, or other ISSN assignment facilities, fires, strikes (of Our own or other employees), insurrection, riots, embargoes, requirements or regulations of any civil or military authority including compliance with any law, court or governmental order, rule, regulation or direction or any action taken by a government or public authority.

12 August 2013

Contact details

ISSN UK Centre
The British Library
Boston Spa, Wetherby
West Yorkshire LS23 7BQ
Tel: +44 (0)1937 546959
Fax: +44 (0)1937 546562