Popular ISO standards: An analysis of the ISO 2021 survey


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has created a wide range of management standards to assist companies in enhancing their performance, and the number of ISO certificates is rising globally. Continue reading to learn more if you're curious about which standards are most used, general trend, and the leading countries.

The largest ISO standards in terms of certifications issued

We may gain some important insights into the current ISO standards by using the ISO Survey for 2021, which provides information on valid certificates issued by certified certifying bodies globally. The ISO Survey offers data on 16 important certificates, which is collected for each country at the end of the year. The current trends are:

  • There are presently more than 1.9 million ISO certificates in use globally, according to data from the most recent ISO Survey 2021.
  • In comparison to 1,593,031 valid certifications registered in 2020, there were 1,956,811 valid certificates reported in 2019 (an increase of 18.59%).
  • The most widely used certifications are ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management), ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety), ISO/IEC 27001 (information security), ISO 22000 (food safety), and ISO 13485 (medical device quality management).

General trends

In comparison with last year’s survey, the number of certificates for each standard examined in the survey has increased, with ISO 45001, ISO 20000, and ISO 39001 facing the biggest rise. The two most popular standards, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, increased by 14.94% and 17.12%, respectively.

It appears that the greatest increase in certifications were by ISO 450001 (35.02%) and ISO 20000 (33.33%), which are both information technology related. This is due to organizations becoming increasingly conscious of the growing need of an information security management system as data breaches and cyberattacks become more frequent.

This year’s ISO survey also includes four additional standards: ISO 20121, ISO 29001, ISO 44001 and ISO 55000. These are 1034 more new certifications in total.

countryISO certification by country

Similar to past surveys, the findings indicate some variations at the national level that can be attributed to participation-related variables. In the case of ISO 9001, for instance, Norway, Portugal, and Germany indicate a decline that is mostly attributable to the nonparticipation of certifying bodies that participated in the last Survey.

The participation of certifying organizations that did not participate in the last Survey has led to an increase in the number of certifications for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 in Japan, the US, India, Thailand, Taiwan, and Korea. Due to the data given by the accrediting body being added to the data reported by the certifying bodies, there has been a specific rise for the UK.