International Standard Book Number (ISBN) - The National Library of Jamaica

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

ISBN Request Form | ISBN Registrant Element (Registration Form)

What is an ISBN?


The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is an internationally accepted code that provides a unique numerical identification for a publication. The ISBN has 13 digits with a hyphen separating each section and it has five parts:

  • Check Digit: permits mathematical checking for accuracy
  • Publication Element: identifies a specific edition of a publication by a specific publisher
  • Registrant Element: identifies a particular publisher or imprint with a registration group
  • Registration Group Element: identifies the country’s geographical region or language area, participating in the ISBN system
  • Prefix Element: a 3-digit number that is made available by EAN International


 How do I get an ISBN?

Applying for an ISBN includes completing the requisite forms and payment of the fees applicable.


ISBN Registrant Element Application Form – First time applicants are required to complete this form.
ISBN Request Form – A copy of this form should be completed for each publication to which an ISBN is to be assigned.

ISBN Forms may be submitted to National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) through electronic mail, fax, post or hand delivered.


Fees for ISBN are to be made payable to the Caribbean Community Secretariat. An international bank draft is needed for this, and is to be paid in at the Accounts Department of the National Library of Jamaica. Applications will be processed only after fees have been received.

The value of this draft is based on whether the publisher is new or already registered and the number of ISBNs being requested. The processing fees are as follows:


1 ISBN20.0020.00
10 ISBNs50.0020.00
100 ISBNs300.0020.00
1,000 ISBNs700.0020.00
10,000 ISBNs1,500.0020.00

Examples of types of monographic publications to which an ISBN shall be assigned are:

  • Printed books and pamphlets
  • Braille publications
  • Publications that are not intended by the publisher to be updated regularly or continued indefinitely
  • Individual articles or issues of a particular continuing resource (but not the continuing resource in its entirety)
  • Maps
  • Educational/instructional films, videos and transparencies
  • Audiobooks on cassette, or CD, or DVD (talking books)
  • Electronic publications either on physical carriers (such as machine-readable tapes, diskettes, or CD-ROMs) or on the Internet (for download or streaming)
  • Digitised copies of printed monographic publications
  • Microform publications
  • Educational or instructional software
  • Mixed media publications (where the principal constituent is text-based)

Processing Information

The National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) is the only agency in Jamaica which has the responsibility to assign ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) to local publications. To obtain a number complete the ISBN Registrant Element Application Form and the ISBN Request Form below.

The NLJ will not provide ISBNs via telephone. The processing time for ISBN requests is 3 working days from receipt of the correctly completed form. This excludes Saturdays, Sundays and holidays and is from the date, that the correctly completed form is received in the Library and not the day on which it was posted or emailed.

ISBN Request Form | ISBN Registrant Element (Registration Form)