Revision July 2018

Scope and mission

The scope of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 is the “Standardization of generic biometric technologies pertaining to human beings to support interoperability and data interchange among applications and systems.” Generic human biometric standards include:

  • Data abstraction and encapsulation
  • Biometric application programming interfaces
  • Biometric data interchange formats
  • Related biometric profiles
  • Application of evaluation criteria to biometric technologies
  • Methodologies for performance testing and reporting
  • Cross jurisdictional and societal aspects

The mission of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 is to ensure a comprehensive and high priority, worldwide approach for the development and approval of international biometric standards.

Work done by ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 complements but does not include:

  • Work covered by ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 17 for applying biometric technologies to cards and personal identification
  • Work covered by ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27 for biometric data protections techniques, biometric security testing, evaluations, and evaluations methodologies


ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 was established in August 2002, after the approval of a proposal submitted by the American National Standards institute (ANSI) to ISO/IEC JTC 1 for the establishment of a new JTC 1 subcommittee on biometrics.  The main purpose of the new subcommittee was to provide an international venue that would harmonize and accelerate formal international biometric standardization, resulting in better interoperability, reliability, usability, and security for future standards based systems and applications.  With better interoperability between biometrics systems, the success of these applications would be much more likely. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 was created with the intent that it would create standards that could support the rapid deployment of open systems, standard-based security solutions for a number of purposes, such as prevention of ID theft and homeland defense.  Standards developed by ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 supports a wide range of systems and applications that provide accurate and reliable verification and identification of individuals.  The subcommittee has published a significant number of standards pertaining to biometrics in the areas of technical interfaces, data interchange formats, performance and biometric and application profiles.  Other topics within biometrics that have already, or are currently, being addressed by ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 are conformance testing methodology standards, biometric sample quality standards, and generic technical best practices, guidance, and implementation requirements that support the interoperability of biometric applications. The Subcommittee also addresses cross jurisdictional issues related to the utilization of biometric technologies in commercial applications

Structure and Working Groups

ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 is made up of six Working Groups, each of which carries out specific tasks in standards development within the field of biometrics.  The focus of each Working Group is described in the group’s Terms of Reference (TOR).  The WG TOR, current standards activities, published standards and future plans are reflected in the WG roadmaps.  The Working Groups of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 are:

Working Group Working Area Activity
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37/WG 1 Harmonized Biometric Vocabulary WG 1 is responsible for the development of a Harmonized Biometric Vocabulary.  The main purpose of this work is to provide a systematic description of the concepts in the subject field of biometrics and to clarify the use of the terms in this subject field.   It supports ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37’s goals by responding in a timely fashion to requests pertaining to the area of expertise in biometric vocabulary initiated by ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37, its WGs or other organizations such as ISO/IEC JTC 1 SCs, ISO Technical Committees and ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC 37 Liaison organizations.
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37/WG 2 Biometric Technical Interfaces WG 2 addresses necessary interfaces and interactions between biometric components and sub-systems, as well as the possible use of security mechanisms to protect stored data and data transferred between systems.  Responsibilities of this group include the development of the ISO/IEC 19784, Information technology—Biometric application programming interface (BioAPI), and the ISO/IEC 19785, Information technology — Common Biometric Exchange Formats Framework (CBEFF) multi-part standards. Versions of these standards have already been published in previous years.
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37/WG 3 Biometric Data Interchange Formats WG 3 addresses the standardization of the content, meaning, and representation of biometric data formats which are specific to a particular biometric technology or technologies.  WG 3 responsibility includes the development of the ISO/IEC 19794 Information technology — Biometric data interchange formats multi-part standard which specifies these biometric data interchange formats for a number of biometric modalities, associated conformance testing methodology standards, ISO/IEC 39794 Information technology – Extensible biometric data interchange formats multi-part standard, and the development of the ISO/IEC 29794 Information technology — Biometric sample quality multi-part standard.
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37/WG 4 Technical Implementation of Biometric Systems The initial focus of WG 4 was the development of biometric profiles.  Biometric profiles specify what base standards apply and what options and ranges of values in those base standards are necessary and sufficient to ensure biometric interoperability for a particular set of application functions.  This work led to a three-part international standard, ISO/IEC 24713 Information technology — Biometric profiles for interoperability and data interchange. The present, ongoing work is focused on generic technical best practices, guidance, and implementation requirements that support the interoperability of biometric applications.  Areas being addressed include: biometric enrolment; biometrics use with mobile biometrics; best practices for implementing biometric systems; use of biometrics in video surveillance systems and design and specification and biometric recognition in automated border control systems.
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37/WG 5 Biometric Testing and Reporting WG 5 addresses the standardization of testing and reporting methodologies and metrics that cover biometric technologies, systems and components.  It is responsible for the development of the ISO/IEC 19795 Information technology—Biometric performance testing and reporting multi-part standard.  WG 5 is also addressing other performance and evaluation-related standards and technical reports to meet current biometric technology trends and future needs in this area such as an evaluation methodology for environmental influence in biometric systems and a technical report on the characterization and measurement of difficulty for fingerprint databases for technology evaluation.
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37/WG 6 Cross-Jurisdictional and Societal Aspects of Biometrics WG6 supports the design and implementation of biometric technologies with respect to several cross-jurisdictional issues such as accessibility, health and safety, societal considerations and legal requirements. WG 6 is involved in the development of the multi-part standard ISO/IEC 24779 Information Technology — Cross-jurisdictional and societal aspects of implementation of biometric technologies – Pictograms, Icons and Symbols for use with Biometric Systems. WG 6 is also developing technical reports (some of them already published) such as ISO/IEC 29144 Information technology — Biometrics — The use of biometric technology in commercial Identity Management applications and processes and Information Technology — Biometrics — Guide on designing accessible and inclusive biometric systems, ISO/IEC TR 21421 – Information Technology – Biometrics – Biometrics and identity management for major incident response, and ISO/IEC TR 24119 – Information Technology – Biometrics — Use of biometrics for identity management in healthcare.



ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 works in close collaboration with a number of other JTC 1 subcommittees:

  • ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 17 – Cards and personal identification
  • ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27 – IT Security techniques
  • ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31 – Automatic identification and data capture techniques,
  • ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 35 – User interfaces,
  • ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 38 – Distributed application platforms & services
  • SO/IEC JTC 1/SC 41 – Internet of things and related technologies
  • ISO TC 79 – Alarm and electronic security systems
  • ISO TC 292 – Security and resilience

In addition, SC37 works with external standards organizations

  • FIDO Alliance
  • International Biometrics and Identification Association (IBIA)
  • International Labour Office of the UN
  • CEN/TC 224/WG 18, Interoperability of biometric recorded data
  • Frontex (Category C liaision with JTC 1/SC 37 WG 4)
  • OSAC Forensic Standards

Member countries

The 27 “P” (participating) members of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 are:

Australia (SA), Canada (SCC), China (SAC),  Denmark (DS), Finland (SFS), France (AFNOR), Germany (DIN), India (BIS), Israel (SII), Italy (UNI), Japan (JISC), Kazakhstan (KAZMEMST), Korea, Republic of (KATS), Malaysia (DSM), Netherlands (NEN), New Zealand (NZSO), Poland (PKN), Portugal (IPQ), Russian Federation (GOST R), Singapore (ESG), South Africa (SABS), Spain (UNE), Sweden (SIS), Switzerland (SNV), Ukraine (DSTU), United Kingdom (BSI), United States (ANSI).

The 20 “O” (observing) members of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 are:

Austria (ASI), Belgium (NBN), Bosnia and Herzegovina (BAS), Czech Republic (UNMZ), Egypt (EOS), Ethiopia (ESA), Ghana (GSA), Hungary (MSZT), Indonesia (BSN), Iran, Islamic Republic of (ISIRI), Ireland (NSAI), Kenya (KEBS), Lithuania (LST), Mexico (DGN), Norway (SN), Pakistan (PSQCA), Romania (ASRO), Serbia (ISS), Thailand (TISI), Turkey (TSE).

Lists are maintained here:

Standards and Plenary Meetings

As of May 2017, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 has 121 published standards/technical reports (including amendments) in biometrics. A further 31 standards remain under development. The following plenary meetings of SC 37 have been held since 2002:

# Date City Country
1. 2002-12 11-13 Orlando USA
2. 2003-09 11-12 Rome Italy
3. 2004-06 14-15 Seoul Korea
4. 2005-07 04-05 Sun City South Africa
5. 2006-07 10-11 London UK
6. 2007-06 25-26 Berlin Germany
7. 2008-07 14-15 Busan Korea
8. 2009-07 13-14 Moscow Russian Federation
9. 2010-07 19-20 Melaka Malaysia
10. 2011-07 11-12 Kyoto Japan
11. 2012-07 16-17 Paris France
12. 2014-01 20-21 Darmstadt Germany
13. 2015-01 19-20 Toledo Spain
14. 2016-01 18-19 Martigny Switzerland
15. 2017-02 6-7 Sydney Australia
16. 2018-01 22-23 Tel Aviv Israel


Each of the six SC 37 Working Groups meets twice a year. One of the set of meetings is held in conjunction with the Plenary.