An ISAN distinguishes between audiovisual works regardless of language version, distribution title and other national or regional adaptations. A work provided with an ISAN can be identified anytime and anywhere.

ISANs thus serve the needs of filmmakers, rights holders, users, distributors and consumers. The ISAN makes it possible, for example, to trace the exploitation of films and is an effective means of combating piracy. Automated data exchange via ISAN identifiers simplifies the settlement of copyright compensation and facilitates the activities of film funding institutions.

The prerequisite for creating an ISAN is the creation of a customer account. Only then the audiovisual work can be registered and an ISAN can be created. Proceed as follows:

  1. Click on Online Registration and fill in the web form.
  2. Click on "SEND" and send it back to us.
  3. Your customer account will be created within two working days. If it takes longer, please contact us.
  4. You will receive your access data to your customer account by e-mail.
  5. Go to the ISAN Switzerland homepage and click on "Login" or click on the link to login in the e-mail with your access data.
  6. Log in with your user name and password.
  7. You can obtain further instructions directly in your customer account. We will also be happy to help you by phone 031 313 36 53 or e-mail


Other services

ISAN offers various services such as matching services and API interfaces. Please contact us directly if you are interested.


Your film is almost finished? Post-production almost finished, only the credits are missing? There is no longer any doubt that your work will reach the market. Now is the right time for an ISAN. An ISAN costs CHF 30 per number. For quantity discounts, please contact us.

In addition to two control digits, an ISAN consists of 24 hexadecimal digits divided into different segments and makes it possible to distinguish one work from another.


They have the script, but the production team is not yet complete. And the financing is not yet signed and sealed. In this case, an INDEV is the right choice for you.

An INDEV is a fully-fledged ISAN (see above) that is not published in the ISAN database until you activate it. Only the activation of an INDEV leads to a publication in the ISAN database and can be made accessible to a worldwide search for your work. However, you can already use the INDEV for funding applications or for internal communication. As soon as you want to use the INDEV publicly, it is easy to activate it. An INDEV costs CHF 30 per number. For quantity discounts, please contact us.



You want an ISAN for a language version of your work or an edited version of your episode for a social media platform of your work? Choose a V-ISAN so that the link to the main work remains in the original language.

An ISAN identifies an audiovisual work, whatever its medium, language version, distribution method, etc. However, it is possible to identify versions of an audiovisual work and related content with a V-ISAN and link them to the ISAN of the main work: For this purpose, an additional identification system (the "V-ISAN") has been developed and standardised with ISO standard 15706-2:2007.

If an ISAN is assigned to a work, a V-ISAN can be created for each version of the work. All versions belonging to the work (TV film, abstracts, language versions, DVDs, colour version of an original black-and-white original, trailer, making-of, etc.) can thus receive their own identification and thus benefit from the unique ISO ID. The first 17 digits of the ISAN correspond to those of the corresponding V-ISAN. In this way, the number shows that the works belong together.


For series, the ISAN system offers an intelligent concept for numbering. With this, groups for series, seasons and the individual episodes can be put into a "numbered" relationship under a common series title. The so-called "series data record" contains a numbered master record which is supplemented by the individual episodes. In principle, when registering a series, a series data record can only be created together with one episode. The individual episodes will be charged in the same way as an ordinary ISAN.

For the purposes of the ISAN system, serial audiovisual works, groups and episodes are defined in a broad sense. Series are e.g. (television) series, whatever the genre, produced in episodes to be broadcast at intervals; weekly talk shows, regular news programmes, sports events, etc.

Serial works do not include, for example, sequels of a feature film (e.g. Rocky IV9, separate broadcasts of parts of a targeted audiovisual work, versions of individual audiovisual works or, for example, the broadcasting of annual events such as a New Year's Eve Special or the annual broadcast of the Oscars.

Registration steps for a new series

1. perform a preliminary search to check whether the series has not yet been registered
2. fill in and submit the application form for the series
3. if necessary, resolve potential duplicates in the duplicate check.
4. register a first group or episode for the issue of the ISAN for the series and the first group or episode

Registration steps for a new group

1. perform a search to find the row under which you will register your group
2. select the series and open a new group registration form
3. fill in the registration form and send it.
4. if necessary, resolve potential duplicates in the duplicate check.
5. the new ISAN will be created once you registered your first episode.

Registration steps for a new episode

Perform a search to select the series or group under which you will register your episode.
2. select the series or group and open a new episode registration form
3. fill in and send the registration form
4. dissolve any potential duplicates in the duplicate check, if necessary
5. the new ISAN has been created and is displayed

► Please note that an episode can be attached to one or more group(s) at any time. To do this, edit the episode data and select the group(s) to which the episode is to be attached.

► Note that an episode can be attached to one or more groups at any time. To do this, edit the episode data and select the group(s) to which the episode is to be attached.

► Note: A series is identified by a root ISAN, i.e. the first 16 digits shared by all ISANs assigned to the series (groups, episodes, versions). The assignment of a unique root ISAN is crucial. In order to avoid duplicates, the root ISAN for the series is only assigned after the series has been registered and the first group or episode has been registered.


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    • What is an "audiovisual work"?

      For the purposes of ISAN, the term "audiovisual work" is not a legal concept but a practical one. The applicable ISO standard defines "audiovisual work" as follows:

      Work consisting of a sequence of interconnected images - with or without sound - made visible as an animated image by appropriate means, regardless of the medium originally or subsequently used.

      Examples of types of audiovisual works that can be assigned an ISAN (INDEV, V-ISAN, S-ISAN) are:

      • feature films and short films
      • live action films or animated films or a combination of both
      • trailer 
      • productions for television or other distribution channels, including individual episodes of television series
      • industrial, teaching and instructional films
      • advertising films
      • direct broadcasts and recordings of events (such as sporting events and news)
      • Mixed and multimedia works if they contain a significant audiovisual component

      No ISAN can be issued for:

      • Non-audiovisual components of an audiovisual work such as film music, screenplay or single images, film stills or multimedia works without an audiovisual component.
    • Use of an ISAN

      The ISAN is the unique reference number for an audiovisual work and as such should be included as a data element in all systems that manage and process information on audiovisual works. Collecting societies use the ISAN, for example, when processing information on the exploitation of audiovisual works.

      For audiovisual works in digital form, the ISAN should be embedded in the relevant master copies of the work and transferred to all subsequent copies of that master. The MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 standards (for the encoded representation of audiovisual and multimedia objects) provide a location for the ISAN identification number in MPEG format.

      For audiovisual works in analogue form, the ISAN should be attached in secure form to the master copy and to all other archival copies. For new works, the ISAN can be printed on the negative of the master copy. For existing works, this means securely coupling the work and the ISAN in the form of a permanent record, archive or inventory.

      The ISAN is also usually noted in the documentation, on the packaging or in the credits of an audiovisual work.

    • How does ISAN affect copyright law?

      ISAN does not affect copyright in any way. It has nothing to do with copyright - neither according to the European nor the North American understanding of the term. ISAN is an identification number, a marking without legal effect or meaning. It merely serves as a tool for collecting societies to accurately distinguish audiovisual works in their databases or when exchanging information.

    • Is an ISAN mandatory for a cinematographic work?

      Since 2016, an ISAN for film works (from a length of 60 minutes) has been mandatory for certain companies. This is regulated in Art. 16a of the Film Ordinance (FiV, SR 443.11). This obligation only applies to the owners of the exploitation rights of the film work. As a rule, these are producers and distributors.

      The ISAN is also required for film festival registrations. This is the case for the Solothurn Film Festival, for example, where the ISAN is only obligatory in the sense of the Film Ordinance if a film is actually selected by the Solothurn Film Festival for screening during the festival.

      It is a labour-saving tool developed by the industry for the industry. ISAN's efficiency and precision in identifying audiovisual works makes it a logical business decision - without, however, being mandatory for all filmmakers and regardless of the length of a film.

    • Who issues the ISAN?

      The ISAN system is managed by the ISAN International Agency (ISAN-IA), which coordinates the entire system, is responsible for the technical generation of ISAN and manages a central database of all ISAN registrations. ISAN-IA designates the individual ISAN registration agencies and oversees their work. These agencies have been established to serve specific countries, regions or industry sectors. All ISAN registration agencies operate as non-profit organisations.

    • Who can create an ISAN?

      A new ISAN is usually created by the film producer or her representative. If an ISAN is needed before the producer has resolved it, the distributor or sales agent as well as a rights holder can also file the application. The ISAN created by the distributor or rights holder can later be assigned to the producer.

      The entity or person requesting an ISAN should be able to permanently affix or link the ISAN to the work to be identified. Clients must first register with an ISAN registration agency in order to be authorised as users of the ISAN system. In this registration process, it is checked whether the client is active in the film sector. This client registration is unique and free of charge.

    • What does an ISAN cost?

      See price list

    • Who developed ISAN?

      The ISAN system was developed as an international standard under the auspices of "ISO/TC 46/SC 9":

      • ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, based in Geneva
      • TC 46 is the Technical Committee of ISO for questions of standardisation on information and documentation
      • SC 9 is the subcommittee of TC 46 that develops and manages ISO standards for the identification and description of information objects

      In May 1997, ISO/TC 46 Subcommittee 9 established a Working Group (WG 1) to develop the ISAN project. The project was under the leadership of:

      • AGICOA: Association de Gestion Internationale Collective des Oeuvres Audiovisuelles (Association for the International Collective Management of Audiovisual Works)
      • FIAPF: Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films (International Federation of Associations of Film Producers)
      • CISAC: Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Auteurs et de Compositeurs (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers)

      Representatives from several countries and international associations were members of the ISAN Working Group and actively contributed to the development of the ISAN project.

    • The ISAN 2D barcode

      Once your audiovisual works have received an ISAN, you can download the associated barcode in your customer account. The download package consists of a machine-readable 2D barcode, the ISAN logo and the ISAN.