Technical Articles

What is the difference between ISO and IEC?

Title: ISO vs. IEC: Unraveling the Differences in International Standards



Standards play a crucial role in ensuring interoperability, compatibility, quality, and safety across various industries. Two prominent international organizations, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), play a significant part in the development and promotion of globally accepted standards. This article delves into the differences between ISO and IEC, shedding light on their specific scopes, functions, and roles in standardization processes.


1. Scope and Foundation:

The ISO, established in 1947, is an independent non-governmental organization headquartered in Geneva,Switzerland. It is responsible for creating voluntary international standards in various domains, focusing on areas such as manufacturing, technology, healthcare, agriculture, and more. ISO standards aim to address global challenges and enhance efficiency, safety, and innovation through conformity and guidance.


On the other hand, the IEC, founded in 1906, is a global organization that focuses primarily on standardization in the field of electrotechnology. It comprises national committees from various countries and collaborates with industry experts, professionals, and stakeholders to develop technical standards related to electrical and electronic technologies, energy, telecommunications, and more.


2. Structure and Membership:

ISO operates through national standards bodies (NSBs) from different member countries. Each NSB forms a technical committee responsible for producing and updating standards in specific domains. ISO standards undergo rigorous consensus-building processes involving experts, academia, industry representatives, and consumer organizations.


In contrast, IEC works directly with its member National Committees (NCs) representing over 170 countries. These NCs participate in developing, reviewing, and maintaining the IEC standards. IEC's structure involves technical committees, subcommittees, and working groups that focus on specific sectors within the electrotechnical industry.


3. Standards Focus:

ISO standards encompass a wide range of industries and sectors. They aim to address generic needs, target broad application areas, and promote compatibility, quality, and safety in products, services, and management systems. ISO standards provide frameworks, requirements, guidelines, and specifications to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and global acceptance of various processes, products, and services.


Conversely, IEC standards have a more specific focus on electrical engineering, electronics, and related disciplines. They cover areas such as power generation and management, energy efficiency, electronic devices, telecommunication, and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). IEC standards help ensure safe, sustainable, and reliable utilization of electrical and electronic technologies worldwide.


4. Collaboration and Harmonization:

ISO and IEC share a strong collaborative relationship by jointly developing standards and ensuring consistency. The two organizations maintain a Joint Technical Committee (JTC1) working on information technology standardization. They have also established a strategic partnership known as the Vienna Agreement to avoid duplication and promote worldwide technical harmony.


5. Adoption and Implementation:

ISO standards are widely recognized and implemented across industries, aiding organizations in achieving compliance, enhancing customer satisfaction, and facilitating international trade. Many countries adopt ISO standards as national or regional standards to align their regulations with the international framework.


Similarly, IEC standards play a vital role in ensuring compatibility and interoperability within the electrotechnical industry. IEC standards are adopted as national or regional standards in many countries and are commonly referenced in legislation, procurement procedures, and conformity assessment programs.



ISO and IEC, as global standardization organizations, exhibit distinctions in terms of scope, membership structure, standards focus, and expertise. While ISO develops standards across various sectors, IEC concentrates on electrical and electronic technologies. However, both organizations collaborate closely and contribute to global harmonization, ensuring the efficient and safe utilization of technologies worldwide. The complementary roles of ISO and IEC are vital in establishing standardized practices, promoting interoperability, enhancing product quality, and facilitating international trade.



Contact: Eason Wang

Phone: +86-13751010017


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