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ISNI agency

ISNI and Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

The International Standard Name Identifier (or ISNI – ISO 27729) is a persistent, unique 16-digit identifying number assigned to individuals and organizations involved in creating, producing, managing and distributing cultural content.

The unique nature of an ISNI resolves the problem of name ambiguity when searching for people and organizations. It also makes it easier for the various metadata-producing communities and rights management companies to automatically exchange data.

The ISNI International Agency (ISNI-IA) is responsible for creating and distributing the identifiers and maintaining the database. It is also responsible for managing and promulgating the ISNI identifier system worldwide.

BAnQ has been an ISNI agency since July 3, 2019. As such, it acts as an intermediary between the ISNI International Agency and local applicants for ISNI identifiers. Having an ISNI identifier makes it easier for Quebec cultural content to be found online; it also helps get the correct payment to the right artist.


Top. How do I get an ISNI?

Two possible scenarios:

  1. Any person or organization who has created or contributed to the creation of a Quebec work that is subject to BAnQ's legal deposit must deposit it with us. When they do so, an ISNI will automatically be assigned to the work.

    To learn more about BAnQ's legal deposit: https://www.banq.qc.ca/services/bibliotheque_nationale/depot_legal/index.html?language_id=1

  2. Any person or organization who has created or contributed to the creation of a Quebec work that is not subject to BAnQ's legal deposit can apply for an ISNI by filling out an online form.

    We recommend that you read the instructions for completing the online ISNI request form in the Guide pour remplir une demande d'ISNI par formulaire en ligne [PDF - 758MB - In French only] before filling out the form.

    ISNI requests

To learn more about ISNI, please see the Frequently Asked Questions section below.


Top. ISNI Agency at BAnQ – Contact Information



Mailing address:

Agence ISNI
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
2275, rue Holt
Montréal (Québec) H2G 3H1


Top. FAQ section

  1. What is an ISNI and what is its scope?

    An International Standard Name Identifier (or ISNI) is an international system of assigning persistent unique identifying numbers to individuals, including authors, composers, cartographers, performers, researchers, and more, who are involved in the chain of creation, production, management and distribution of intellectual or artistic contents that are published or otherwise made publicly available. This definition also includes organizations and fictional characters, as well as groups of people or organizations operating under a common name, such as music groups, universities and university departments, etc.

  2. What is a public identity?

    A public identity is the name by which an individual, an organization or a fictional character is publicly known.

  3. Can multiple ISNIs be allocated to the same party?

    If the same individual or organization has multiple public identities, as when a party uses one or more pseudonyms in addition to their real name, each public identity relating to that party shall have a separate ISNI.

    For instance, Stephen King (ISNI 0000 0001 2144 6296) published several novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman (ISNI 0000 0001 2021 3263) and a children’s book under the name Beryl Evans (ISNI 0000 0004 6413 7380). Each of these three public identities has been assigned a separate ISNI.

    However, alternative spellings of the same public identity do not have a separate ISNI. For example, Stephen King, Stephen Edwin King, S. King, and Сти́ вен Э́двин Кинг all refer to the same public identity, to which a single ISNI (ISNI 0000 0001 2144 6296) has been assigned.

    Other examples of variants referring to a single public identity:


    • Mary Rose-Anna Travers / La Bolduc
    • Pyotr Tchaïkovski / Peter Tchaïkovski
    • Guenter Grass / Guenter Graß


    • Oxford University Press / OUP
    • Bibliothèque du Congrès / Library of Congress
  4. Who can apply to BAnQ for an ISNI?

    In its capacity as an ISNI registration agency, BAnQ can respond to requests by any party residing in Quebec, or by any party that has created or contributed to the creation of a Quebec work. All other parties should contact the ISNI International Agency directly, at isni.org .

  5. What are the benefits of having an ISNI?

    The unique nature of an ISNI resolves the problem of name ambiguity when searching for people and organizations, thereby making it easier to find and showcase the works that they created or to which they contributed. ISNI also acts as a bridge identifier across multiple domains and is a critical component in linked data and semantic web applications.

  6. Do I have to pay for an ISNI?

    No, the service is completely free for applicants. BAnQ is happy to support Quebec's cultural development by covering the cost of the application and paying the ISNI Agency for this service.

  7. How can I know if I have an ISNI?

    You can access the online database containing all ISNI identifiers for free. Once there, use its search interface to find out if you already have an ISNI identifier.

  8. How do I apply for an ISNI?

    If the work that you created or to which you contributed was published and therefore subject to BAnQ's legal deposit, you must make sure that it was in fact deposited with us. If that is the case, you should already have been assigned an ISNI. If you have not received one, please write to us at isni@banq.qc.ca; a BAnQ employee will review your situation and get back to you within 10 business days.

    If the Quebec cultural work that you created or to which you contributed is not subject to BAnQ's legal deposit, you can apply for an ISNI by filling out an online form. (in French only)

  9. How long does it take to get an ISNI?

    If the work that you created or to which you contributed was deposited with BAnQ under its legal deposit requirement, you will get an ISNI a few days after the work was received at BAnQ. If you applied using the online form, and the information is complete and accurate, you will get an ISNI immediately. However, if the information submitted is not sufficiently accurate or if it contains errors, your request will be reviewed by a BAnQ employee and you will receive an answer within 10 business days. Note that BAnQ may have to contact you for additional information.

  10. Is all the information about my public identity publicly available?

    Information about your identity is a vital part of assigning an ISNI identifier, so it is important to provide data that is both complete and accurate. However, ISNI only makes public the information required to differentiate between two different public identities. You can ask that certain information about you no longer be made public. For more information, visit ISNI's Data Policy page.

  11. I found several ISNI identifiers for myself. What should I do?

    If you have several public identities – for example, your real name and one or more pseudonyms – it's to be expected that you will have an ISNI identifier for each of your public identities. However, if you believe you have found more than one ISNI identifier relating to your single public identity, please contact us at isni@banq.qc.ca. The case will be reviewed by a BAnQ employee and you will receive an answer within 10 business days. After we have confirmed that the identifiers do in fact pertain to a single public identity, only one identifier will be kept, and the superfluous identifier(s) will be deactivated.

  12. How was the work of ISNI Registration agency launched?

    In April 2020, BAnQ conducted a bulk data upload to the ISNI database, as a result of which over 210,000 parties received an ISNI identifier.

    Since the summer of 2020, BAnQ has been sending daily requests for ISNI identifiers on behalf of parties whose works have been newly added to its collections.

    Parties involved in Quebec cultural productions that are not subject to BAnQ's legal deposit can request an ISNI identifier by filling out an online form.

  13. How are ISNI identifiers structured?

    An ISNI is made up of 16 characters: 15 decimal digits and a final check character. The check character is calculated by an algorithm in accordance with ISO/IEC 7064, and can be either a decimal digit or the character “X”. The purpose of the check character is to prevent errors resulting from incorrect ISNI transcription.

  14. How is ISNI governed?

    The registration authority for this standard is the ISNI International Agency (ISNI-IA), which provides a user interface and assigns identifiers using a disambiguation algorithm and database. It promulgates, coordinates and supervises the ISNI system in accordance with ISO 27729, and represents the interests of the ISNI community to other bodies. Its duties also include managing and maintaining user data, metadata and administrative data related to ISNI allocation, maintaining ISNI identifier records and associated administrative data.

    The Registration Authority does not provide direct services to users. It systematically channels potential users through independent bodies called Registration Agencies that act as local representatives and intermediaries between ISNI applicants and ISNI-IA. BAnQ became an ISNI registration agency in July 2020. The quality team, part of ISNI's safeguards, consists of experts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, who work together to ensure quality control of the data in the central ISNI database. They also respond to suggestions for improving the data submitted by Internet users via the database's public interface. For information on governance, you can visit the ISNI website at isni.org . For more information on the services we provide, you can contact us at: isni@banq.qc.ca.