What is an ISBN?

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally. It is essentially a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format. ISBNs were 10 digits in length up to the end of December 2006, but since 1 January 2007 they now always consist of 13 digits. ISBNs are calculated using a specific mathematical formula and include a check digit to validate the number.

Applying for an ISBN in Malta

The National Book Council is the official agency issuing ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) in Malta in accordance with international standards and obligations. All publications with an ISBN issued by the National Book Council are listed on the ISBN Book Database Malta.

Publishers, as the group, organisation, company or individual who is responsible for initiating the production of a publication, can request an ISBN through our online form for their upcoming publication/s. Applicants are frequently commercial publishers, but they can also be other entities, or the author of the book if the author has chosen to publish their book themselves.

An ISBN can only be issued once a client provides the National Book Council with the details of the publication that will be using the number. Clients can apply for 1 ISBN or up 5 ISBNs at a time providing all the required publication details – this procedure will guarantee that numbers issued will follow a sequence.

ISBN Application Form

Apply by filling the online ISBN Application form.

As of 1 January 2020 all ISBNs and ISMNs issued by the National Book Council are free of charge.
For more information about the ISBN, please consult the ISBN User’s Manual (in Maltese).

Queries can be addressed by email to: michael.mercieca@gov.mt