How international standards are developed

International Standards are agreed upon blueprints for making a product, managing a process, delivering a service, or supplying materials. They are developed by a global group of experts in response to a market need using consensus and with representation from relevant groups such as industry and academia.


International standards support the safety and compatibility of products and services, support international trade, and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


They are primarily developed by two organizations:



ISO and IEC carry out their work through two main pillars

  • Governance work: governance bodies and groups set the rules and regulations for the governance of the organization and the development of standards.
  • Technical work: international technical committees develop the standards themselves.


SCC's role

Canada is a member of ISO and IEC. SCC represents Canada at both organizations.


As the country’s national body, we take our mandate from the Standards Council of Canada Act. We have the authority to provide direction on the technical and governance work that Canada’s standards community delivers on behalf of the country. We establish areas of work, leadership roles and memberships, and use our discretion to make changes that will deliver the greatest social and economic benefits. 


SCC Directives and Member Code of Conduct

We use these requirements and guidance to determine Canada’s participation in international standards activities:  


Participating in governance work

Standards development activities at the international level are determined by bodies at governance levels. Details and requirements of participating in this work are outlined in SCC Directives Part 2: Participation in International & Regional Standardization Organizations.


Participating in technical work

Mirror committees in Canada

SCC facilitates the participation of Canadian experts in developing ISO/IEC International Standards through its mirror committees. Mirror committees inform Canada’s position on standards to ISO and IEC. There is a Canadian mirror committee for international standards that are a national priority, including areas like the environment, health care and the digital economy. Details and requirements of participating in Mirror Committees are outlined in SCC Directives Part 1: Participation in International Standardization. Canadian organizations can also administer a mirror committee based on the rules in SCC Directives Part 3: Administrating Organizations – Management of Mirror Committees.

Steps in international standards development

National standards bodies propose and approve a new standard for development

Global technical experts develop the standard 

National standards bodies and the public review and comment on the new standard

Technical experts incorporate comments and revise the draft standard  

National standards bodies vote and approve the new standard

The standard is published; it will be reviewed and revised as needed.

Infographic that lists the steps to developing international standards.

Want to comment on a draft standard?

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You can find ISO standards Open for comment by selecting "Drafts under enquiry." Use the search button.


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If you have an IEC account, provide your comments at IEC Public Commenting.  


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How national standards are developed

Standards developers accredited by SCC, and the National Standards of Canada they develop, must meet SCC’s requirements for openness, balance, consensus and prescribed process. This ensures that all interested parties have an opportunity to participate in standards development.

Find and buy standards

Browse our database to search for published National Standards of Canada and international standards. You can also search for Other Recognized Documents. Find out where to buy the standards you need.

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World Standards Day

Each year on October 14, we join the international community to celebrate World Standards Day.